So a few of you asked how to deal with the first craft show anxiety. The short answer is to be prepared and just do it. I'll give you some of my long answer thoughts but B.B. Bellezza, a craft show veteran who has far more experience than myself addresses craft show jitters in this very comprehensive manual if you want some other good ideas.
The pictures above were borrowed from my sister in law, the sewing extraordinaire Gray Eyed Scorpio on the right, and is from our first adventure in craft shows. Our friend Leslie is to my left and she made some decoupaged creations for the day. It was an outdoor street festival in Troy, MO in October 2007 and Debi blogged about it back then here. You can't tell from the picture but we were all very nervous. The good thing was we had each other to joke with and bounce ideas off of. If you can do you first show with a friend or team I would highly recommend it. It takes some of the pressure off of you to make sure everything is perfect. Some shows won't let you share a table so be sure to ask, but other low key events won't make a fuss.
I can't say that I'm proud of our booth display but we were total newbies and trying to combine 3 different crafts into one display. We used to joke that we had the "Power of Three" and Debi made up a banner to try to tie things together. Luckily we had plenty of room to spread ourselves out.
The best way to elevate your anxiety is to be as prepared as possible. Set your booth display up at home and get everything just the way you like and then take a picture. Save it to your phone or make a copy of it so that you have something to work from on the big day. I'll talk in another post about how to find display items and ideas for how to set it up.
Have your checklist of things that you need for the day printed out. I found a very comprehensive list here that covers just about everything you could possibly need. You might not need everything mentioned but it is a great place to start.
Be sure to have everything priced and tagged clearly before hand. For last year I hand wrote on the back of my business cards, hole punched them and tied them to my items, but I'm hoping to come up with something more professional for this year. I usually take a day off of work the day before to make sure my inventory is in order. Have some sort of signage for your table to let people know who you are. You don't have to spend much money if you are just getting started. Get creative and make your own. Here is a step by step tutorial that my sister in law did for her banner.
For your first show start small. Find a low key event at a school or church near your house so you don't have to worry about getting lost or running late, always one of my big fears the night before. If you are traveling somewhere unfamiliar print out the mapquest directions and if possible check somehow to make sure that it is the most direct route.
Don't be disappointed if you don't sell a ton of stuff at this first show, just look at is as a dry run to get over those first show jitters. Keep telling yourself that this is your hobby and it's supposed to be fun. That helps me for some reason. I will also tell myself that this is not my job and my mortgage doesn't depend on it. If it did I can't imagine how nervous I would be. I'm usually a mess until I have my first sale and then I will calm down a bit. Once I make my booth fee I breathe a sigh of relief and am much calmer for the rest of the day.
At the very least load up your car the night before and go through your checklist to make sure you have everything so you don't have to worry about it the morning. If you are allowed to set up the night before take advantage of it. Even if you don't leave all of your inventory just having the display done will save you a major headache in the morning. That first hour of getting the car unloaded and getting things set up is always the most harried for me. I end up hot and sweaty and feeling disheveled, not how you want to feel right before facing the public. If you have a friend or agreeable hubby have them come along for at least the first part of the day if you can't set up the night before.
Definitely get a good night's sleep the night before. Don't, I repeat Don't, stay up all night making new items to sell. If it relaxes you to work on your craft do so but having a few extra things will not be worth the all nighter if you are tired and cranky the next day. I try to go to bed early and may take a Tylenol PM to help me calm down and slow my racing thoughts. Don't take it too late in the evening so you wake up with a cloudy head and definitely don't go out and party the night before.
Wear something comfortable but not too comfortable. I generally don't wear jeans but this is a personal preference. I wear comfortable knit slacks with something that I hope reflects my personality. It is important to remember that we aren't just selling things, we want people to buy into the whole package and hopefully come back for more. Definitely wear one of your items if applicable. You want them to see the inventory in action and how cool it looks on. Have a big mirror to whip out and allow people to try things on themselves.
Whenever we interact with the public there will be a few bad eggs. I've never had an aggressively rude customer but I've heard horror stories from other vendors. Try not to have a thin skin and don't take it personal if someone turns their nose up at your booth or doesn't get the inherent wonderfulness of you and your product. If someone says something hurtful smile and show them you are a bigger person, because you don't know who is behind them that could overhear you. Vent to your neighbor but don't complain about things too much or too loudly because that will make you a target. If it is a juried show or even if it isn't don't make too much of a fuss or you will be remembered as a troublemaker and you could lose out on future shows.
As creative types we tend to have a more sensitive disposition. Don't let this stop you from trying something new and putting yourself out there. Most people will be complimentary and you will get more feedback in one day about your work than in a year on line. I have had some wonderful interactions with customers that gave me warm and fuzzy feelings for weeks afterwards. When someone really gets you and wants to actually buy something you made with your own hands it's one of the best feeling in the world.
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