Saturday, February 25, 2006

Your First Craft Show

You have decided to take the plunge. You have been making cute little teddy bears for years. People love them, and they always ask if they can buy one. You always have shied away, but now you are thinking that selling your bears might not be such a bad idea. You are ready to begin, but you have never run a business. Where does one begin?

Your first bet would be to look at your inventory. What kinds of bears do you sell? Sit down and do some planning. Think about how much you spend on each bear for materials. Then think of how much time each bear takes you and add half an hour to that total. Now multiply that by what you would like to make per hour and add in the materials cost. That is the pricing for your bear.

Decide how many bears you can make over the course of a week. Here is one of the keys to having a successful small crafting business. You have to think about making time for the business. Your family may have a quick meal once a week so you can work. Your husband may have to take over a couple of loads of laundry. That is okay; you should be confident in asking your family to take on some of the responsibility so that you can make your crafting business successful.

Once you know how many bears you can make in a week, decide how much you would want to make at a first or second fair to make it worth your time. Think small at this point. You may want to make only $50 or $100. Just come up with a figure.

Now you are ready to begin searching for local craft shows. There are some fairly simple ways to look for the shows. You can keep an eye out in the newspaper or in local crafting magazines. Call the Chamber of Commerce. They should have their collective fingers on the pulse of everything going on in your community. Call the mall to see if they have any fairs coming up. Also check with neighboring towns to see what they have.

For each show, you should find out the price, the size table that includes, and the deadline. There are other details, but those are the most important for you right now. Once you have a listing of craft shows, you should sit down with a calendar and your calculations from earlier.

Come up with an additional budget. You will need to pay for gas and possibly lodging. If you have found shows locally, then you can mark lodging off the list. Still, think about food for the day. Perhaps you will pack your lunch, but you will need to buy ice. Add in every small detail of how much you will spend that will be related to the craft show.

Now go down your list. By each show, add up the figure for extra costs and the cost of entry into the show. Include the amount you want to make. Now use your calendar to count the weeks until the show. Decide if you can make enough bears in the weeks until the show to cover that number. Remember that you are calculating the profit you will make from each bear, not the selling price. So if you are making $5 a bear, and your costs break down as follows: $25 registration fee, $10 miscellaneous expenses, $75 profit margin, then you would add those figures up: $110. The show would need to be 22 weeks away (110/5) for you to make the right amount of money.

That may seem like a long time, but it really is not. You may need to plan now to be in a show that will happen in six months. Another option is to look for less expensive materials, pay someone (like a teenaged child) a small amount to help make bears, or to charge more per bear. Still figure out these costs now, and you will find that you will be able to make significant progress toward your craft business. Be confident. You can do this. You just need to work at it.

By Julia Mercer

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