Tag Archives: market

To market, to market. Part two – 7 things to do in preparation for a market.

Thanks for all the lovely feedback on my earlier post about things to think about before attending a market.   I have had some great conversations with people as a result of this!  Today I am going to focus on the things that you should be doing in preparation for attending a market.   These are all things that take a bit of time and organisation and need to be done in the weeks leading up to the market – not the day before. The stuff you are doing the day before is a whole other list!!

  1. Organise some great product shots.

What?   Why do I need good photos of my products for a market – the customers at the market will be able to see them in the flesh (so to speak!).   Hypothetical narrators questions aside, the answer is that having great product shots means that the promoters of the market are going to be able to share your images on social media, and on their advertisements, so that people are enticed to attend the market. If you have some dodgy shots taken on your old iPhone3 in dim lighting and with a cluttered background the organisers are not going to want to use your images, so you miss out on attracting a whole bunch of potential customers.   I have seen some shocking product photos provided by designers – one set was of some beautiful handmade knitwear displayed on a glass topped table that was covered in greasy hand prints and dust – which definitely did not induce me to look further at the products.

Tips for good product shots include natural lighting ( I personally love taking photos outside in spring in the middle of the day but that is not always possible or convenient!), a flattering background that doesn’t overpower the product, and if the product is an unusual one, having it presented so that it’s purpose is obvious.   For example a scarf will have more impact draped over a form than folded flat on a table.  Backgrounds don’t have to be elaborate – I have friends who have had great success with some patterned wallpaper that gave the look of wooden boards or bricks.    Once again, making sure that your photos reflect your brand is important.  You don’t have to have a professional photographer take shots for you (especially if all of your products are one of a kind) but it can be a good idea so that you have a nice set of professional images to use in your marketing.

A designer I know has a great eye for matching objects and creating stories.  She has helped out a few other designers I know by taking flat lay photos of their products paired with accessories that enhance them. Those photos really pop on social media!   (Hmmmm……maybe I need to give her a call myself!)  Remember – you don’t have to do everything yourself – you might know someone who is happy to help with making sure you have great photos.

2.  Make sure you have a way of letting people know who you are.

I get really frustrated when I attend a market and see a stall that I like, but I can’t see the name of the stall or business so I can’t make a note about ordering from them, etc.   Letting people know who you are is really important.   Getting a banner made up doesn’t cost a lot these days – a vinyl banner with your own design from Vistaprint starts at about $20.  If you want to do something different to match your brand there are lots of options for handmade signage, from painted fabric banners, to bunting, painted wooden signs, light boxes and more.   It just needs to be something that can be identified by someone who is a few metres away from your stall. Hanging it below your table may look cute but can’t be seen by someone the next row over. Hanging signage above your stall or on a stand that stretches above eye level is much more effective.

The second thing you need to have organised in this regard before you attend a market is business cards or flyers.  Customers will often take a card so that they can remember you for a custom order, or to come back to at the next market, or for them to follow you online and purchase from you in the future.   If you don’t have an easy piece of paper for them to pick up they aren’t going to remember you.   What should be on your business card or flyer?   Your business name, your tag line (you know – the bit that tells people what your business does), your email, social media addresses and website.   I used to keep mine really anonymous until a marketing expert told me that if she is given a business card that doesn’t have a name on it she throws them out.  As a result I now have my name and phone number on there too – in case someone wants to place an order that way.

3.  Be ready to take people’s money.

After all, that is the name of the game. You aren’t there to take names, you are there to take money in exchange for your wonderful products.  (Actually you might also want to take names but we will talk about that later. Right now we are focused on the moola, the cash, the big bucks. Alright – I will stop now.)    What does that mean for preparation?   You need to think about how to look after the cash that you receive in a safe manner, and you need to decide if you want to be able to offer credit card facilities.

Dealing with cash first, there are two main options that I think work for a market – a cash box or a cash apron.  A cash box is useful because you can separate the notes and coins out and therefore give change easily.   It can be locked and you can keep the key on yourself for added security during the market.    An apron has several advantages – you can have a zipped pocket to hold the money so it is on your person at all times and less easily stolen by dodgy thieves, and you can use the apron pockets to hold your phone and credit card reader.    I have previously used an apron that I made myself so it had pockets for everything, plus a copy of my old logo printed onto fabric so it marked me as the stall holder.   I am undecided about which option to go with this time, but will need to make the decision soon so that I can buy or make what I need.

With regard to taking payments from bank cards it is worth thinking about because many markets don’t have ATMs and once people run out of cash they stop buying if they can’t use their cards.  The options for taking money via card are broad these days.  Paypal offers a facility that connects to your Paypal business account, many banks offer a facility that connects to your bank accounts, and there are card readers such as Square which allow you to take payments without belonging to a certain bank.   Each of these methods will charge a fee for transactions, so you need to be aware of how this affects your prices, but with the ability to buy a unit like these starting at $60 it is a good investment to make if you are going to be attending a number of markets.

4.  Know how you are going to display your products

In Part One I talked about designing your display to enhance your product, etc.  In the lead up to a market you need to know what props, tables, screens, marquees, etc you are going to use so that you can buy parts you don’t have, repair any that have been damaged, or make what you need.  A few things to consider here are the size of your furniture and props, and how you are going to transport them to the venue of the market.   For example I have a great set of shelves that would be really attractive as part of my display in a stall, but they can only go in a trailer, not in my car.  Taking a trailer will work well for some venues but not for others, so making sure you know what you are taking and HOW you are taking it is good to work out well in advance so that changes can be made if necessary.

If you are going to use a table cloth (cannot recommend this enough) you need to make sure that you have one that fits your table/s, and check whether it needs cleaning, ironing, etc.  Again – not something you want to be doing the night before a market if you can help it.

Having a trial run of your set up a few days prior to the market is a good plan as it allows you to check that you will fit into your allocated space, that you have all the pieces you need, and that nothing needs repair or replacing.  If you are relying on the venue to provide a table, display board, or chair, make sure that you know the dimensions so that you can measure and check your equipment at home and know that it will fit.

5. Know how much product you have and what you need to make before the market.

I know I sound like Captain Obvious but you might be surprised by the number of times designers ask a few days before a big market how much stock they should bring.   If you are going to have a successful market then you need to have this worked out a few weeks in advance.   It is a good idea to make a list of all the products that you already have, and how many of each item you have, then to make a list of what your target amount to take to market is.    This then allows you to map out how much you need to make before the market.   In determining how much product to take things to think about are what sort of traffic the market is expected to get, how long it goes for, what have been your best sellers previously, etc.   One designer I know who attends a quarterly market keeps records of each market so she can predict how much stock to bring for different times of the year.  When you are starting out it is definitely a bit of trial and error so it is important to have a plan and then you can assess after the market what worked and what didn’t.

I recently read a comment in a forum I belong to by a woman who explained that in deciding whether to attend a market she looks whether she can make 10 times the cost of the stall hire. If she can’t then she doesn’t apply.   This is useful to think about when determining your stock levels.    If you are paying $20 for a stall then on this formula you need to sell $200 worth.  If you have paid $50 you need to sell $500 worth. How much do your products cost – do you have enough to sell to make that sort of money?   Do you have a good level of stock at the price point that you think will sell best? For example a school fair will probably see a high turnover at the low price point with kids spending their pocket money and parents supporting the local school.  At a design market touting itself as high quality, exclusive, etc, customers are going to be willing to spend larger amounts of money on big purchases so you would be short changing yourself if you only take a small number of high price point pieces.

6.   Tell people that you are going to be at this market

Social media promotion of an event that you are attending is a free but effective way of drawing customers to your market.   Most markets will have some graphics that you can use, or you can use your own images and set out the location, date and time of the market.   Creating a Facebook event and inviting all your friends is another great way to make sure that people know that it is on.  And don’t just tell them once – remind people in the lead up to the market that you will be attending and share some images of what you are bringing with you to the market.  Build a campaign so that they can’t avoid knowing that there is a market on next Saturday and that you will be there, and that there are lots of other great things to do in the area.

7.  Read the stallholder information

When I was working on the administrative side of a market it was incredibly frustrating to have repeated frantic phone calls from stallholders asking questions that had already been answered multiple times.   It was equally frustrating to arrive at the market to hear stallholders say things like ‘If I had known there was this event on at the same time as the market I would have brought different products’ when the details had been provided and advice given on this very issue a number of times.   So many of the designers would then say ‘Oh I don’t have time to read that material’.    Really???  This is your business and you don’t have time to read the information that will help you to have a really successful market experience, not get fined for breaking local bylaws, be promoted as a designer to watch, etc?

If you are serious about getting the most out of your market experience, do yourself a favour and read the material provided.    Know what time you can bump in and what time you have to bump out by.   Know what the rules are about whether you can set up a marquee inside a building, whether you need to have your electrical cords tagged and tested, whether you will be allowed to drive into the venue or not.    Know whether you need to provide your own tables and chairs, what size your allocated space is, whether there is free wi-fi, and what will get you banned from the market!  Because when you don’t know these things and are confronted with them during your set up, or in the middle of selling your products it causes nothing but stress!!

 

If you are on top of these 7 things in the weeks leading up to the market you are attending then you are well on your way to a successful market experience!    My next post will be the list of things that you need to take with you to a market – the checklist of what to pack the day before.   If you have any suggestions to add to the list of pre-market preparation I would love to hear from you!

To market, to market. Part One – 5 things to think about before you hold a market stall

In preparation for my return to the world of being a market stall holder in a few weeks time, I am going to publish a series of posts on preparing for a market, and attending a market.      I have spent the last few years working on the other side of the fence, supporting designers to hold stalls themselves, and giving advice on how to maximize their sales, their business and their brand.    Now that I am back on the designer side of the fence it is time to remember all my good advice and apply it to myself.  By writing a series of posts I hope to help myself remember all that good advice, and share it with you at the same time!

  1. What is the purpose of you having a market stall? 

This might sound silly but actually there are lots of different reasons for taking your products to market.   These can include testing your products, marketing your products, taking orders for future delivery of custom products, attracting wholesaler buyers, and, of course, making money.  Your purpose might be a combination of all of these reasons, but it is good to be clear with yourself why you are doing this, as it will help guide your decisions about which markets to apply for, what products to take with you, how to display your products and how to design your stall presentation.

2. Who is your target customer?

While it is easy to say ‘anyone who wants to buy my stuff’, actually knowing who your target customer is can help you with everything from which stalls to apply for, to how to display your products and how to market them.    When I was holding market stalls selling my bags I had a description of my target customer that I wrote down – it included the sort of job my customer might have, the things she liked to do in her spare time, and where she lived.    While my target customer never actually presented herself to me and said ‘Hi, what you have is perfect for me, let me buy it all’, having a clear idea of who I was aiming my products at helped a lot.  It especially helped a lot when someone who didn’t fit my target market criticised my pricing, or when someone who didn’t fit my target market started a conversation with me that ended up with them learning more about my product and buying it after all!

My target customer is more than someone who likes tea.   My target customer also includes people who are buying gifts, who like quirky ideas, quality materials, and unique, one of a kind items.   This means that they probably aren’t going to be found in abundance at a garage sale set up in the carpark of a shopping centre, but will definitely be found at a market promoting handmade or local makers.

3. Do you know your brand and how you want to represent it?

Describing how you develop your brand is a whole separate post, but the question is, do you have a brand, and do you know how you want to use your brand to sell your products?   Knowing your brand can help with things like how you want to display your products, what you will wear while working on your stall, what colours and styles you will use in your signage, and how you will ‘dress’ your stall.   For example, if you are selling a product that is organic and earthy in nature, your brand is likely to be one based on nature, clean lines, and healthy.   Having a market stall dressed with flashing coloured lights and blaring 80’s rock is not representing your brand or telling your story.

My brand is more than just a logo (although my logo reflects my brand).   It is about handmade items made with care using quality materials to create unique, one of a kind, products, and products that are kind to the environment.  My stall set up needs to convey this, so there will be no flashing Christmas lights, or hawker style inducements as they don’t reflect my brand.    (There probably will be a few cups of tea happening though!)

4. Do you have a range of products that will appeal to different price points?

If your products are all handmade, unique or artisan items they are likely to have a higher price point.   Not all customers can afford large purchases, but many are attracted to your stall by the promise of beautiful things, so having a range of items with differing prices can allow them to buy something that gives them that sense of being part of your story, without breaking their bank.   At my first stall at the Handmade Markets, selling my bags, I also had a box of fat quarters for sale.   My bag prices started at $40, but the fat quarters were $5 and $6 each.  Part of my brand at that time was about sharing a love of beautiful fabrics in each piece that I made, so selling some of those fabrics stayed with the brand, but allowed for smaller purchases too.    I also had smaller pouches and pencil rolls priced between $10 and $25, again providing a range of prices for those attracted to my brand.

5.Is there a cohesion between your products and how you are displaying them?

The ways in which you can display your products at a market are many and varied and range from the simple to the elaborate with everything in between.  I will write a separate post about the options with displays but the question I am asking here is a little like the question about branding, but has a different emphasis.   A designer who I know and respect changes her display props regularly, always looking for a point of difference between her stalls and her neighbours.  However there is one key point that always remains, no matter what her props – they are always re-purposed objects that subtly highlight that her products are ethically made from recycled clothing.  The cohesion between her products and her display means that the display doesn’t overpower the products but enhances them.

Knowing your brand helps here, but also knowing how your products will stand out helps with this question.   Now that I am focused on quirky tea paraphernalia using large shelf displays where teacups will look lost in proportion to the shelves isn’t going to work. I need to have smaller displays that won’t dwarf the products, and will allow them to  be clearly seen.   A flat shelf full of teacups has much less impact than a tiered display where each cup and saucer can be seen fully.   Tea and all it’s paraphernalia lends itself to a cosy indoors feel, so having an industrial style display shelf would be incongruous.

 

My next post will be all about the list of things you need to do prior to attending a market, and then I will follow it up with a list of things you need to take to the market.    With all of this writing I am sure to be organised for my first stall!   I would love to hear any advice you have about things to think about before you attend a market!

How to make your own gadget cover

Make your own gadget case |a little bird made meI promised a few weeks ago that I would prepare a tutorial for you so that you could make your own iPad or gadget cover.  I probably would have bumbled along and forgotten that promise if it wasn’t for our upcoming school fete.  We always have an exceptional craft stall, with a great range of high end products, and this year a friend has been assigned the task of making iPad covers, so I decided that I needed to get my tutorial writing groove on and prepare it for her (and you!)

These gadget covers make great presents for family and friends – you can personalise them with your choice of fabric, or by embellishing them.

These instructions will make a gadget cover that fits an iPad, iPad2,  etc, and will be a little big for the iPad Air.  At the end of the instructions I provide measurements for making this pattern to fit the iPad Air and the iPad mini.

Materials

1 piece of hat elastic measuring 15 cm.

1 button.

Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me

Ninjas!!

One piece each in your chosen outer fabric and inner fabric measuring 28cm (11”) x 45cm (17.5”).

One piece of your wadding measuring 28cm (11”) x 43cm (17”).

(For wadding I use Vilene H640 fusible fleece.  Here in Australia you can buy it at Spotlight by the metre.  There is a thinner version – Vilene H620 that is also fusible but the H640 is thicker and provides more cushioning for your device.  You could also use non-fusible wadding such as cotton or bamboo, or polyester by simply stitching it around the edge of the outer fabric instead of fusing it.)

Instructions

  1. Attach the fusible fleece to the wrong side of the outer fabric, following the manufacturer’s instructions. You should have a small gap on either side of the fabric where the fleece doesn’t meet the sides.  This is to help you reduce the bulk in your seams.

When I attach the H640 using an iron I place the fleece on the ironing board with the adhesive side up (that is the rough side) and then place the fabric on top of it with the wrong side on the fleece and the right side facing up.  I then use a pressing cloth (a piece of cotton, calico, or a tea towel) over the top of the two pieces and spray it lightly with water.  Then iron the pressing cloth, applying a small amount of pressure, and holding the iron in each spot for a few seconds before moving it along.  You may need to go over the piece a few times to ensure that the adhesive has properly melted and adhered to the fabric.

  1. Fold the outer piece, with its attached wadding, in half with the right side together and the wadding facing out, so that you have a side that is 28cm high and about 22cm wide. Stitch a line from the top of the long side down that side, and then across the bottom.  Use a 1 cm seam allowance here.Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me
  2. Clip the corners at the bottom of the outer layer, then turn it inside out and poke the corners out at the bottom.

    Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me

    And if you are really lucky you will accidentally line up your pattern so that it almost matches perfectly!

  3. Fold the inner fabric in half, with its right sides together and stitch that down the long side from top to bottom, then sew across the bottom for about 5 cm, leave a 10 cm gap, then sew the remaining seam. This will give you a gap for turning your creation in the right way at the end.Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me
  4. Take your hat elastic and fold it in half, then wrap a piece of cotton around the end where the cut ends meet, to bind them together. This will stop the pieces separating when you are sewing them, and give the stitches something to catch so that the elastic is secure in the seam.Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me
  5. Pin the elastic half way across the back side of the outer piece so that the elastic sits on the right side of the fabric, with the cut end just over the raw edge of the fabric and the loop pointing down. Put the pin on the fleece side of the fabric.Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me
  6. Now place the outer piece inside the inner piece so that their right sides are together, and the seams on each one lines up. Make your own gadget case |a little bird made meStitch around the top edge of the two pieces, about 1 cm from the edge, to join them together.  When you cross the point where the elastic is sitting, reverse back and forward a couple of times to reinforce the stitching at that point.Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me
  7. Turn the piece inside out, using the gap in the lining, and tuck the lining down inside the outer piece. Press or iron the seam that joins the inner and outer pieces so that it is flat, and then top stitch a row around the top of the cover.Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me
  8. Now you are ready to close the gap in the lining. To do this you can either hand sew it shut or, as I tend to do, tuck the seam in and then machine sew across the edge of the folds.  Tuck the lining back into the cover.
  9. Yay! The last step!  Time to sew your button on.  To measure where you button should be sewn fold the elastic loop down to the front side of the cover and mark where the bottom of the loop falls, then sew the centre of your button a millimetre or two below that point.  And now – ta da – you are done!!Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me

To adjust this pattern for other gadgets you need to measure the width, height and depth of the gadget.  To help you out I can report that the measurements for making a cover for the iPad Air are 28cm (11”) x 40cm (15 ½”).  The iPad mini requires fabric that is 24cm (9 ½”)  x 33cm (13”).

You are welcome to use this pattern to make items for sale on a cottage industry scale, for fundraising or as gifts.

Make your own gadget case |a little bird made me