What I Learned from My First Craft Show

The past month or so has been a bit surreal.

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As a kid, I wanted to be an artist or an art teacher when I grew up and last month I felt like I fulfilled a piece of that childhood dream–I sold artwork at my very first craft show! It’s funny how things come full circle like that. I shared a little booth with my friend Danielle in the Sensational Spring Arts and Craft Show in Norfolk, VA and sold a bunch of pretty things, like this Be Thou My Vision calligraphy screen print, Virginia state watercolor prints and postcards and coffee themed wall art.

There were a lot of favorite moments from the weekend. I offered a calligraphy demo during the middle of the day and (hopefully) inspired a few kiddos to embrace the art of writing by hand. I had a nerdy conversation with a guy who used to work with a sign painter. I explained how letterforms worked to a lady who wants me to paint a quote on her wall. I made my first print sale. Lots of friends stopped by to share in the excitement throughout the weekend. I had the best pizza I’ve tasted in Hampton Roads (Shout out to Over the Moon Pizza). I slept for 13 hours the night after it was over.

I loved this experience and I’m so excited for my next show (date to be determined). I thought I would share…

–Things I Learned as a First-time Craft Show-er–

(Also, let’s all embrace these classy iPhone photos)

First Time Craft Show | Allocco Design and Crafts

It’s Okay to be a Newbie.

I was actually really worried that people would judge me because I didn’t have a white tent covering my booth. It’s just a stupid tent, but I didn’t want to look like an amateur. A friend of mine kindly lent me her bright red tent but it was too small for our area so we decided to go tentless. Lucky for us we had PERFECT weather, so I was able to work on my tan (okay, burn) and engage people who could have felt uncomfortable entering a tent (because let’s be honest, when you walk into a booth, you’re committing to talk to a stranger trying to sell you things).

There’s a Crafty Community

Piggy backing off being a newbie, the other vendors were SO encouraging and helpful. We were surrounded by experienced crafters who shared about past shows, told us about what type of crowds we could expect and encouraged us while setting up our booth. They were free of judgment and super kind. I now follow a bunch of talented creatives that I met just from walking booth-to-booth. Plus, it was nice to have friendly people to talk to while there was a lull in traffic.

Calligraphy Demo | Allocco Design and Crafts

I’m Glad I Brought

I wasn’t entirely sure what to bring with me the day of, but here are the things I would definitely bring to every show.

  • My crafting belt. Yes, I have a crafting belt (it’s original use was back when I made bulletin boards during my RA days). I had a pocket for my Square readers, phone, pen, cash, chapstick etc. It was on me all the time and I didn’t have to go looking for the necessities.
  • Business cards. This may be a no brainer, but bring plenty of business cards. I packaged business cards with each product, too. I had a lot of people take my cards and even share them! One woman bought a print and her daughter ended up following me on Instagram. I’ll credit that follower to my stack of cards.
  • Decor pieces. It’s one thing to have prints available for purchase. It’s another thing to see how that print will look in a frame or next to your knick knacks. I framed all my major pieces and displayed them with baskets, glass bottles, ceramic birds and hedge hogs, flowers, etc. I also wasn’t selling a ton of items, so the decor items helped make my booth look full.
  • Water. Again, obvious. But I only had one bottle of water for day 2 and I was dehydrated and sunburnt. No bueno. Bring plenty of H2o.
  • Extra packaging supplies. I had one or two prints framed but not packaged. Since they were unique products (painted state prints in various colors), I had to take the print out of the frame and package it nicely for customers. It’s good to have scissors, washi, chip board and plastic sleeves on hand.

Craft Show Display | Allocco Design and Crafts

Square Saved My Butt

Square isn’t sponsoring this post, but I am just thrilled with how their system works. The majority of my transactions were made via credit card and I would have missed out if I didn’t have my handy square, especially my chip reader! When I went to sort through all of my transactions and books on Tuesday (because let’s be honest, I slept all day Monday), Square made it super easy to see what fees and taxes were involved, what products sold at what time, etc. And my money was in my account the first business day after the show. Too legit.

Calligraphy Craft Show | Allocco Design and Crafts

Use Keywords on Signs

I created two chalkboards (using thrift store frames and foam core–super cheap and LIGHT, bee tee dubs). I specifically wrote the word “calligraphy” on my signage. And I had a woman ask me “are you the calligrapher?” and hire me on the spot to do a commission. It’s helpful for customers to see up front what you do, even if they haven’t scoured your booth. It’s like SEO in real life.

Share Your Products and Event Details Ahead of Time

I had about 30 people that I knew come visit my booth. Some people bought stuff, some didn’t. Regardless, people bring an energy and buzz to your booth. Plus, it’s super encouraging to have friends support you! I shared a “save the date” about three weeks before my craft show on Instagram and Facebook, then posted pictures of my items with a map of the show and the location of my booth the week of the event. I made it easy for friends and fans to find me. I had some visitors who came because they saw something on social media and wanted to buy a specific item.

Virginia Beach Calligraphy Watercolor | Allocco Design and Crafts

If you’re looking to set up shop at your first craft show, I hope these tips make your day run smoother.

Thanks again to all who came out to see me at my booth. It means the world to have your support and I couldn’t have come this far without you. Here’s to achieving more childhood dreams.

Watercolors and Calligraphy | Allocco Design and Crafts

Next dream to fulfill–trip to Antarctica and I’m not even kidding…