How I Prep for a Craft Show

Originally published April 17, 2018

I’ll be the first to admit it: sometimes, I could probably be diagnosed as certifiably insane. How else could I possibly think now is the right time to launch my own business as sole owner and operator? I have a toddler!

The answer is, of course, that I’m doing it because I love it, and because this hobby is a healthy, non-destructive way for me to burn off all the nervous energy that comes from trying desperately to figure out parenthood. (Is she sleeping enough? Is she eating enough? Am I spoiling her by giving her so much attention? Am I neglecting her because I turned down an invitation to build blocks in favor of reading my book? How do so many people manage to actually raise children?! – An excerpt from my train of thought on a daily basis)

Now, usually, I dive headfirst into the things I tackle and assume I’ll figure things out as I go. As you might expect, though, that’s not the most efficient way to run a business! It’s become desperately clear to me that I need a better strategy. Hence the poll aimed at focusing the shop – which, by the way, is still open! I also now have a monthly strategy for this blog – a strategy beyond “figure it out on Tuesday,” even. I know, it’s a revolutionary thought!

As the title mentions, I also have another craft show coming up (see you in Grand Rapids on the 28th!), and my display DEFINITELY has room for improvement. I spent the vast majority of Liv’s nap today experimenting with set-up ideas on my coffee table, and came up with this:

I’ll have more space to work with at the craft show to alleviate the cluttered effect, but I at least have better ideas to work with now!

For context, this is where I started:


Not the most visually appealing collection in the world. Even if jewelry is beautifully crafted, it’s hard to gauge from a distance – I noticed a lot of eyes simply sliding past my table! So, my goal is to draw people in, not disappear under their gaze. I’ve spent the past week or so scouring other blogs for advice and inspiration, and here is a list I’ve cobbled together of the most important aspects of a table display:

1. Add height!

This is #1 for a reason. A flat table does not draw shoppers in from across a room. A flat table says nothing about your brand. I had the necklace stand and the earring trees at first, but 90% of the table was a vast expanse of tablecloth peppered with necklaces. Now, I have a vertical necklace display to bring more of them up to eye level, leaving table space open to showcase my crochet work. I also added books under the earring trees to catch the eye – I like the personality it adds to the table!

2. Focus on your products

This sounds like a no-brainer, I know. But as you can see, my first set-up included a bunch of knick-knacks that I brought along to pretty up the table. Bad idea! Shoppers were confused about which items were for sale and which were just display. I could’ve easily sold the stone pears, even though I didn’t make them myself! Now, I’m discovering ways to decorate with my products, not random knick-knacks; the books are the only things not directly related, and they’re being used as a specific prop. After all, if you love what you’ve made, why hide it from potential buyers?

3. Make sure there’s a flow to the composition

This idea is applicable to any artistic endeavor, really. It’s important to guide the eye toward whatever you want to showcase. Not enough to look at is bad (i.e. a flat table), but too much to look at is also bad (overstimulation isn’t just for toddlers). You’ll notice in my revised arrangement that I have the earring trees set up extremely tall to catch the eye, then the necklaces, then the crochet pieces. There are three clear types of products and three clear levels on which they sit. (You’ll also notice that the background is too cluttered, which couldn’t really be helped given the coffee table situation but does serve to highlight my point!)

4. Position yourself as the brand representative

I rolled in to my first show wearing a typical jeans-and-tee combination, looking relatively indistinguishable from my high school photos save for the laugh lines I’ve accumulated since. But the more I started to take myself seriously as a business owner, the more I’ve spent time polishing my look before I set up at craft shows. It’s not like I prepare for a day in the office, but I do make sure that I’ve covered up the bags under my eyes, and I at least attempt to tame flyaways in my hair. After all, customers won’t take you seriously if they can tell you’re not invested either!

Whew! List over, at least for now. If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. I’m sure I’ll make many revisions and/or additions to this list as time progresses, but everyone has to start somewhere, right? And remember, just because you’ve already started doesn’t mean you can’t perfect your approach! Change is the only constant in life, after all. 🙂



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