Listen up Southern makers! We've got the lowdown on Greenville, SC craft show Indie Craft Parade from vendor and #ahasmember Sarah of Once Again Sam. If you are wondering if this show is for you, read on.
Q: Tell us about your shop! What do you make?
A: My handmade business, Once Again Sam, started out as a side hobby in 2009, but within a few years, it unexpectedly became my primary income source, so I consider myself a full-time maker now even though I hung onto my “day job” as an interior designer (because I love doing that too!).
I create handmade jewelry using a combination of basic hand tools and high tech equipment, working mostly with wood and upcycled leather. My jewelry ranges from modern laser cut leather cuffs, to hand painted landscape pendants, to cute little novelty rings, and just about everything is under $30. I also have an unrelated collection of quirky needle felted fiber art pieces, or “Felted Curiosities” as I like to call them, which include realistic looking succulents, ridiculous monsters, and even anatomical hearts, all sculpted out of wool fiber.
Q: How did you hear about this show?
A: I moved to Greenville, SC in May of 2010, only a year after starting Once Again Sam. I remember seeing an Indie Craft Parade flyer in a local coffee shop, and although the deadline for applications had already passed by the time I discovered the flyer, I made plans to attend Indie Craft Parade that September. At the time, I wasn’t sure I was ready to do craft shows, so I attended the show mostly to shop, but also to scope it out. I didn’t realize it was the show’s very first event – you’d never guess that by the caliber of the artists present or how well organized everything appeared to be!
Q: Why did you decide to apply to this show?
A: The following summer (2011), I decided to give Indie Craft Parade a shot. It was my very first time applying to a craft show, but I figured this show was local, it seemed like my work might be a good fit, so what did it hurt to try. I didn’t really expect to get in, quite honestly. Once I was accepted, I spent the entire summer preparing. I had no booth display, almost no inventory, no idea what to expect in the end, and it ended up being a crash course learning experience for me, but diving in headfirst was the best possible thing I could have done.
Q: What's the application and jurying process like? What requirements do you have to meet?
A: You will get to submit 4 photos for each category you apply for. Since I apply for 2 categories (“Fiber Art” and “To Wear”), I submit 8 images total, but it’s still the same application fee regardless of how many categories you try for, which is nice. If you make items that fit into multiple categories – you should definitely apply to all of those categories.
You’ll get to include a little info about you and your work, but it’s the photos that are going to make or break your application. The photos have to be perfect – no joke. I spend several months and lost a lot of sleep obsessing over which photos to use! These 4 photos need to show that you’re different from everyone else applying for the same spot within your category (because each category only has so many spots and some are especially competitive). With those 4 images you have to prove you’ve got a product that people are going to be lining up for, and you have to show you’ve got a consistent brand and collection. The jury may only see your image for a few seconds, so it has to be an incredible image. That’s a lot of pressure on these photos, but when competition is this tight, you know it’s worth it!
Q: What was the atmosphere like? Who was there? What could you do?
A: This is the only show I’ve ever done that has a line to get in for the entire weekend. The line of eager attendees stretches down the block and around the building, and people know the wait will be worthwhile. The show is always crowded, which is a good thing for us vendors, and every year I’m making sales the entire time, one after the other, with no lull whatsoever. Sometimes is a real challenge to replenish inventory on the table or scarf down a granola bar!
The building where Indie Craft Parade is held is a very cool space – it’s a renovated mill with lots of big windows that look out onto Greenville. This show is located right downtown and gets tons of traffic. Indie Craft Parade is very vendor friendly – every year the load-in is just about stress free (there’s people to help, carts you can borrow, plenty of time to set up, and only so many people using the loading at once). Plus, and this is a big big deal as many of you show veterans know, you WILL have plenty room to stand and a guaranteed exit for your booth. Amazing, right? I tell ya, it’s the little things…
Q: What kind of vendor would do well here or not do well here?
A: If you sell modern handcrafted items at a lower to mid price point, you’re a great candidate for the show. If you make quirky children’s toys, modern jewelry, affordable gift items, or are able to sell original paintings as well as prints, you should definitely consider applying. There’s such a wide range of items available – everything from baby bibs, to dog toys, to leather goods, to embroidered art and greeting cards.
Q: What should people considering the show know about it?
A: It’s a tough show to get into. I believe they have a few hundred people apply each year, but only around 75 vendor slots, so the odds aren’t always great. If you’re lucky enough to make the cut, be ready to spend a lot of your summer working in your studio. This show actually shapes my whole year – I make very few travel plans over the summer because I need every possible minute to create inventory for the show. I typically sell 700-800 items over the course of Indie Craft Parade weekend, all of which are handmade by me and only me, so it’s a very full summer’s worth of work getting ready for this one event.
Q: Anything else?
A: If you’re new to the craft show world, don’t let that stop you from applying to Indie Craft Parade. You just never know what’s going to catch the jury’s eye! When I first applied to this show, I was sort of doing it to practice submitting an application, and was thrilled to make the cut, so you just never know how things will shake out. It’s only $25 to apply – not so much to lose, and it could turn into a huge gain if things go well. Indie Craft Parade weekend typically earns me around 10% of my business’ income for the entire year…in just 2 days. In addition to being my most profitable show every year, it’s also a lot of fun. I know that sounds a little cliché, but it’s true. Everyone is so happy to be there – the vendors, the shoppers, the volunteers, and the organizers too!
For the last few years, I’ve shared some personal stats following Indie Craft Parade, so if you’re interested in more details, these are backlinks to those posts:
Q: Where can people find your stuff?
A: Find me here:
The 2016 Indie Craft Parade will take place September 16-18 in Greenville, SC. Artist applications are open to Southern US artists from June 1-20. Visit indiecraftparade.com for more details.
If you like this post, you might also want to read about craft show application tips from Indie Craft Parade here.