Woodlawn Street Market

I find that life gives you opportunities to jump into the deep end of the pool, and when those opportunities come, you just have to plug your nose and go for it. About a month ago, I signed up to participate in the Woodlawn Street Market, and whether I was ready for it or not, it was time to see how well my felt goods could sell outside of Etsy.

The day turned out to be a success. Though the market was pretty small (it had about 25 vendors), I was happy to make a  handful of sales and walk away with a little over $100 in profits.

Somethings are best learned through experience, and when it comes to being a vendor, I think this statement holds true. But for those of you who are looking to try a craft fair or street market for the first time, here are the lessons I learned from my first experience.

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Lesson #1: How much inventory should I bring?

A week before the market, I felt completely unprepared. So I created a long to-do list for myself and spent every spare second (included lunch breaks and normal sleeping hours) cutting out and sewing together my felt creations. I decided to sell 12 different items. For the best sellers (lunch sets, breakfast sets and Pop Tarts), I create 10 to 15 of each. For others, quantities varied from 5 to 10 items each. By the time Saturday rolled around, I had a lot of stuff, but I still felt like it wasn’t enough.

It was only until I started to set up that I realized I had a ton of stuff! I couldn’t even fit everything on the table. I knew the market was going to be small, but I brought enough inventory that if I sold out, I could make $800. It was a little overkill. I would have done fine if I had brought half of what I actually did. But, on the flip side, it was nice to feel prepared, and I have plenty of inventory left for Etsy orders or possible another craft market before Christmas.

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Lesson #2: How should I  best display my items?

Next time, I’m going to use more tables. I was given a lot of space (a 12 x12 booth), and I should have taken advantage of it. (Plus, I should have centered my table cloth. Looking at the picture now, I realize how silly it looks.) A friend gave me the advice that a clustered look attracts customers, but I think I had too much stuff on top of each other.

I did use display pieces, which turned out to be a great sale technique. These items are meant to be touched and played with, so I wanted people to pick them up, examine them (and then fall in love with them, of course). The kids that came by totally got it. Before their parents could make it to the table, they were waving around the bag of chips like it was the coolest things they’ve ever seen. They dove their little hands into the bowls of felt salad and pasta before anyone could stop them. Kids know toys when they see them.

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Lesson #3: How much should each item cost?

This is an question I am still asking. Someone told me a story once. They had a friend who wanted to go into the photography business but didn’t know how much to charge for his services. He researched what other photographers were doing in the area and picked a middle of the road price point. He barely booked any sessions. Then he decided to find the highest price out there and top it, and his business took off from there. He said that because he had the highest price point, people assumed he was the best. He was the best that money could buy.

Though I do not think I could start selling my felt items for hundreds of dollars, the story proved to me that we cannot always guess what the consumer is thinking. I would think that at a middle-road, affordable price, my felt breakfast sets would sell like crazy! But alas, I only sold 3 sets this weekend.

The issue I find with pricing homemade items is how to you quantify the amount of time you send to create it. If I priced the felt lunch set to reflect the amount of time it took me to create it, I would need to sell it for at least $50. But why would you pay $50 for my homemade item when Target has shelves of more inexpensive, yet equally adorable items. So I’ve decided to use prices that do not account my time, but instead build in room for a small profit with the price of the materials.

Maybe over time, if items become more popular, I’ll increase prices. But for now, I like how my prices are affordable. I rather my felt food be in the hands of children that stored in the back my closet!

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Holiday Yarn Pom Pom Garland

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As you know, I love a good pom pom made (See: Pom Pom Flowers), so when it came time to decorate for Christmas, I thought I would whip up an easy pom pom garland. And though I have already posted a tutorial, I figured it would a refresher wouldn’t hurt. And this time, instead of telling you, I thought I would show you!

Need it now? You can buy the garland on Etsy today for $15.50.

What’s in a Name: Creating my Etsy shop

As this blog approaches its third birthday (celebration soon to come), I figured it was about to time to expand – enter Etsy from stage left.

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This Etsy shop has been a long time coming. People kept asking me why I didn’t sell the items I made. And the fact is, I’m not very good at production. Crafting is no longer fun for me when I feel like I have to do it. Once I make something, I want to move on to the next, new and exciting thing!

So I created a shop that works for me. I want my shop to be an extension of this blog – hence the shared name. I’ll keep posting projects and tutorials here, hopefully providing you the inspiration to create wonderful things. But for those who love the idea but don’t have the time to make it themselves, they can now skip the steps and buy the final product by clicking the link at the end of the post.

The shop has been open for about a month now, and I know I still have so much to learn about Etsy. It’s a big marketplace, and I’ll admit, I haven’t found my niche. But this is what I have learned so far and am still trying to figure out.

(1) Amazon has taught us to expect free shipping. 

Now Etsy doesn’t tell you this, but I realized it after spending quite a bit of time shopping on Etsy myself. For my mom’s birthday, I found this amazing pie plate for a reasonable price, but I didn’t buy it because shipping was going to cost an additional $20. It takes away the confidence of an impulse buy. So I’m offering free shipping on all my products. And so far, my items are small/light enough to not cost that much to ship. But we’ll see how it goes with future purchases.

(2) Price point is a hard thing to figure out.

Of course, before I opened the shop, I did a little bit of research, and I found that items similar to the ones I will be selling go for several different prices. One pillow with a felt appliqué was on sale for $75, another on sale for $20. And there wasn’t much of a difference between them. So I decided to pick a price on the low end – $25. Then a friend suggested a start with an even lower price to encourage the first few sales, so I bumped the price down to $20. That same friend said she builds the Etsy fees into her prices. I like the idea but didn’t like the uneven number, so I just added 50 cents.

So to review, a felt appliqué pillow at For the Love of Felt costs $20.50. (For now, at least. You should get it while the prices are low.)

(3) Making those first few purchases are hard.

I’ll admit, when I opened my Etsy shop and posted a link on my Facebook page, I thought I would sell a good amount of items to friends and family. But instead, I sat there and watched the stats increase as 50.. 60… 90 people “viewed” my shop, but didn’t buy anything. I guess you are never a prophet in your own hometown. Though after two weeks, my sweet mother proved she is the best, and purchased a pillow! My first purchase – I was stoked. I have only made one more purchase since, and I’ll still trying to figure out how to turn my shop’s viewers into buyers. (If you read this before midnight, the entire shop is 25% off for Cyber Monday.)

I still have lots to figure out and learn about running a shop on Etsy, but I’m taking the first steps. By all means, check the shop out for yourself, and if you feel compelled, share it with others. And hopefully one day I can call this endeavor a success.