Your first craft show or even first couple can be pretty overwhelming (especially if you're an introvert!). The day is usually long, you're on your feet, you're answer a lot of different questions and you're always in that awkward balance of wanting to sell your stuff but not be pushy or hover. Community member Maria Aranes shares the lessons she's learned as newbie seller.
Q: Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your business and what you make.
A: My name is Maria Aranes and my business is Remnants of Nature. I make home decor such as coasters, tote bags, moss art greeting cards and moss art. I bring art to life using nature by incorporating things such as wood burning techniques, moss and other natural resources in new and innovative ways.
Q: When did you start participating in local markets as a vendor and why?
A: I started participating in local markets during the Fall of 2016 because I wanted to gain exposure with my products and business since I launched it in June 2016. Also, I love meeting new people and thought it would be a great way to get feedback from buyers first hand.
I had only gone to markets as a buyer because I wanted to see other vendors booths and also get a sense of what type of inventory people bring to a market.
Q: What helped you take that first 'leap'?
A: I had spoken to a good friend of mine who is also a maker and she suggested participating in local markets is a great way to learn more about my target audience.
I was extremely nervous since I was not sure how people would respond to my work. It's different posting things on social media and receiving likes, but to have people see your work and observe their reactions in person is another thing. This was more so because no one really makes the type of art I do.
Q: Since beginning to participate in markets, what has been the most important thing you've learned?
A: Not all markets are created equal. Sure you can apply to markets but it helps to know if the market you are applying draws in your target audience. If it's the wrong crowd it could be a waste of your time and money.
Q: Through what experience did you come to this conclusion?
A: I honestly didn't know too much about the first market I was accepted into, and I was more excited that I just got into a market than anything else. I also figured since it was a juried market, the organizers would know if my products would be a good fit for the type of crowd that shows up to their market.
When I saw their Instagram posts the few months leading up to the show, I realized their audience wasn't my target audience and most likely wouldn't be interested in buying my products. My hunch was proven right when I didn't make any money at the market.
Q: How do you research and prepare before applying and participating in a show?
A: Now, I go on the show's website, check out their social media feeds and try to see what other vendors have previously participated in the show. If possible, I also try to attend the market if I consider applying to one its events. This helps me get a feel for the market, its crowd and what types of products other vendors make.
Q: What factors do you take into consideration before applying for a market?
A: I take many things into consideration: location, whether or not it's a juried show, size of the booth space allocated, cost of applying and vendor fees. I also like to keep in mind if the market is one day, an entire weekend and the time of year.
A majority of my business is maintained by my commissioned work and purchases people make either on my website or through social media posts. I do about 2 markets a year, so it's not the sole source of income for my business.
Q: What advice would you share with a maker who is looking to get into shows and markets for the first time?
A: Do your research! If possible, go to a market you're interested in person. Check out their website, previous list of vendors and any reviews people have left on social media regarding the market.
Q: Where can we find your work?
A: My website is: https://remnantsofnature.com I'm also on Facebook and Instagram @remnantsofnature