I have a growing collection of For Dummies books. Ollie's carries a rather large selection for $6.99 each, so I tend to come home with more than I went in for, and fewer than I wanted. Eventually, I will have an entire wall of them, unless I admit that some of them have been a bit crap, and that I really should be more selective. But, that is all beside the point. What I really wanted to talk about is a new series of posts I will be putting together. In homage to my growing For Dummies library, I will be talking about various topics through the eyes of a certain incompetent, me. So, the series will be By Dummies (well, one dummy, really, but it just sounds better if it's plural).
The first installment of this series is a focus on my lack of understanding of craft fairs, shows, and festivals. In Part II, I will talk more about my general lack of business knowledge, and maybe, if I feel like it, there will be a Part III about my general aversion to money and success. There will be other non- Crafting a Business installments, too, things like Photography By Dummies, Lawn Care By Dummies, Gardening By Dummies, and maybe even Blogging By Dummies.
I've been searching for local craft fairs and festivals for awhile, now, and have had somewhat limited success. After creating a list of those I wanted to participate in, and that had limited rules for participation, I started the contact process. It isn't going terribly well.
If I am able to participate in a festival at some point in the future, I have no idea what to expect. It seems, each fair, festival, and show has a different set up and different requirements. I've been trying to come up with packaging and display ideas that are nearly free. I don't have money to invest into this, so nearly free is about as spendy as I can get, but it's been difficult as I don't know how much space I'll have, how much stock I should take, how likely people are to touch my product with grimy fingers, and if I can leave my display up overnight for multi-day fairs. I haven't even decided what to sell.
I hope to be able to offer some actual advice to others lost in this sea of handcrafts, but for now, I just want to offer up a few resources I've been relying on. For business cards, Zazzle has been great. I would have prefered to have recycled paper, but the only reasonable option for mini-cards shipped from the UK. That, I decided, completely negated the environmental benefits (though, I think Zazzle ships from California, so maybe I'm wrong). They offer many different printing surfaces (bags, mugs, stamps, shoes, etc. ) and have an incredibly simple interface. I plan to use the chubby business cards as jewelry cards to hold my pins. I may add adapters to the back, depending on how I decide to display them.
Determining a display set-up, having not been to a fair in years, has been a bit of a challenge. So, I've gone on a bit of virtual reconnaissance (even the spell check didn't know what I was trying to type with my first attempts at that one, my spelling skills are terrible). The Craft Fair Displays Flickr group is like a giant craft fair, without all of the fried food, bad music, and guilt over looking and not buying.
FestivalNet is a great place to start tracking down craft fairs. While it doesn't offer much additional information for non-members, the list of festivals it provides is great Google fodder. You might check your state (I am struggling to understand how this works in the US, I have no helpful information at all for crafters based outside of the US, sorry.) for an Association of Fairs and Festivals (or similar), West Virginia's has a great looking website full of useless knowledge, and dead-end links. What was somewhat helpful, was the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. There I found a list of fairs and festivals with phone numbers and links to websites.
That's all I have, for now, but I will post updates if I uncover helpful information, or if I make a total ass of myself.