All the fun of the (craft) fair

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December 10, 2012 by thepolishedbutton

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Firstly, I should give you some background information. I have been working on my little haberdashery empire for about 6 months now, slowly building things up on my etsy shop page, fiddling with packaging and generally trying to focus where I’m going with it. I work part-time in a vintage clothes shop (more about that another time) and spend the rest of the time with my lovely daughter. Trying to find time to photograph buttons, list them, post orders etc is tricky, and many a nap time is filled with The Polished Button gumph!
So I thought a natural step would be to book myself in for a couple of craft fairs over the Christmas shopping period and see how I got on. I have recently done a small line of button inspired jewellery, and figured that may be a good place for them also – good gifts and stocking fillers, you know how it goes!
I have attended many fairs in my pre baby days as a vintage clothing dealer, so am familiar with the set up and potentially what a long hard day it can be. I eased myself in with a very local one, although as it was in the busy city centre on a Saturday, I left the car at home and got the bus. My first mistake. How easy it is to forget what a pain in the bum lugging a suitcase and bags of stuff round, at rush hour, can be. But the fair itself was in a great location, really busy – the organisers really got folks through the doors. But no one was spending. A sign of the times perhaps, but I barely shifted any buttons, although a few bits of jewellery went, and I got plenty of compliments. (as well as the obligatory ‘ooh that’s a bit pricey isn’t it love?’ Why do people think it’s ok to do that? It’s not Primark and I blinking well made it with my two clever hands…anyway I digress)
After paying the stall fee I was left with just enough money for a bottle of wine, no such a bad thing but in real terms, it’s hardly sustainable, unless you can live on wine, and I personally like to throw in some nachos too.

So, my next fair was a well established one down in Brighton, and run my a lovely and very clever friend of mine Zoe. (You can find her here: so zo blog)

I decided to combine it with a visit to my sister in London, but of course once again failed to think through travel plans, so ended up on some very long (cos they’re cheaper) train journeys across London and Sussex. The fair was great – well attended with some lovely things on sale, but i think it really confirmed to me that the jewellery side of things either needs to shape up or ship out. There were plenty of others doing very similar things,and although they were selling, I don’t want to be jumping on a bandwagon of button themed jewellery, especially when my real love is the haberdashery side of things. I did make a decent amount at this fair, but once I took out travel costs, feeding myself and generally the cost of being out and about, it really made it more of a social trip than a money making venture. Still, I’ve viewed both of these events as marketing opportunities, handed out lots of business cards and really cemented my feelings on what I want to be doing and where.

I think as far as the buttons go, fairs are not the way forward, so I need to concentrate on driving things forward online and with stockists, both bricks and mortar and online. Bring on the New Year and a new focus for me!

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