We love hearing about the shows that makers love selling at! Today we have Ryan from ReAcoustic and shares experience as a vendor for Makers Collective's Indie Craft Parade. Learn more about the show and how to apply at the end of the post!
Q: Tell us about your work! What do you make? How long have you done this? What's the process?
A: My name is Ryan and xfI take antique Phonographs, Gramophones, and Musical instruments and turn them into Acoustic (Passive) speakers or Bluetooth speakers. I get the Phonographs and Gramophones from antique dealers all over the country and I typically get the musical instruments from band directors and repair shops. I then build a wooden base for them to be mounted to.
I started making these in my garage back in 2011 after I got my first iPhone. I was surprised at how powerful the little speaker in the phone was and started looking for ways to amplify it. I was in the band in high school so my first thought was musical instruments. I started with the bell from a trumpet and it did a great job. From there, I just kept asking "What else can I use?", and my product line kept getting bigger.
In 2012 American Express ran an article in their magazine Departures which included my speakers. That article was seen by their top cardholders all over the world. I had orders from over 30 different countries and a waitlist in the hundreds and that allowed me to take on the business full time.
Q: Why did you decide to apply to this show? Had you done any shows before?
A: Once the online orders started to slow down, I knew the next step would be to start doing shows. My product was something that needed to be seen and heard. Pictures and online videos only go so far.
I had never done a show before and found the thought of participating in one a little intimidating. It made sense to make my first show a local one so I applied to Indie Craft Parade.
Q: What was the atmosphere like? Who was there? Was it what you expected?
A: Indie Craft Parade was my first show ever so I had no idea what to expect, but it was everything you could hope for in a show. It was a very organized event with extremely helpful staff and it was packed with enthusiastic buyers.
Q: What did you learn from doing this show?
A: It showed me what to look for when considering other shows. It made me wish I would have applied a couple of years sooner. It opened my business up to all of the opportunities that a great show provides.
I made a lot of sales during the show, but it also gave me so many contacts for future sales and repeat customers.
Q: What (if any) changes have you seen in your business or your customers since doing this show?
A: It has pushed me to improve and create new things for the customers to see each year. It has been great to see the expressions and to receive the direct feedback that selling face to face brings.
The biggest change for my business has been the shift in where my sales come from. Before Indie Craft Parade, all of my sales came from online orders. Since my first show with Indie Craft Parade, the majority of my sales come from shows.
Q: What factors should people considering a new show think about?
A: There are so many things you can consider when doing a show. You could write a book on this one question. You need to consider the actual cost of the show, associated expenses, and how far away it is.
A three day show along with set up and take down that is 8 hours away is really five to six days of additional work on top of all of the work that you put into your actual product. You could do a chapter in that "book" on how that affects your hourly rate. One thing that has really stuck out to me lately is to consider shows with the "right" customers for your business.
Some shows attract a lot of people but they might not the right people for your business. For example, some shows have huge crowds but most of the people there didn't come to buy. They came to be entertained. It was more of an event to spend an afternoon at. I have also done shows with half of the crowd and four times the sales.
Some shows attract the wrong demographic for your product. I have participated in some shows that attracted a much older crowd that wasn't a great fit for my "tech" product. Some shows attract customers looking to spend $25 an item and they shake their heads in disbelief at the larger price tags. Some shows attract customers looking to spend $500 an item and smaller items are completely overlooked. Don't just consider the number of people, but also consider if they are the right customers for your business.
Q: Anything else you'd like to share?
A: I have done around 25-30 shows since I did my first show with Indie Craft Parade. They set the bar extremely high and I still compare every show I do to my experience with them. They are still my favorite show and I look forward to it every year. I still have not been to a show where the organizers were as involved, visible, and as invested in the success of the event.
I have also still never been to a show where the customers were as excitedly lined up, waiting for the doors to open. It is also one of the lowest cost shows and by far has the highest ROI that I have participated in. To sum it up into one sentence: Indie Craft Parade is a seasoned show, in an awesome venue, run by great people, and packed with enthusiastic buyers.
Q: Where can people find your work?
A: The website ReAcoustic.com redirects to my Etsy shop where I have been selling since 2011.
The 2017 Indie Craft Parade will take place September 15-17 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.