Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Your First Market | When things don't go *exactly* as you would have hoped.

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Since it's Tuesday, it's another edition of indieBusiness Bites! A new blog series I started a little while ago documenting my journey of The Creative Business. As many of you know - I attended my very first market last Saturday at Holy Cross School. I was super excited about having my first market stand and dived straight into market preparations and preparings! For today's business blog post I wanted to share some of the lessons that I took away from my very first market - which was a big learning curve!

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1. Arrive as early as possible 
Make sure you get to the market with plenty of time to set up your stall. Trying to finish up last minute things whilst the customers are starting to arrive will make you feel flustered and overwhelmed. We arrived at the market with plenty of time to spare - but on arrival, I realised that the table that had been allocated to me in all the email communications between the organiser and the market stall holders, had been taken over by other market stall holders, which was slightly disorientating. My market table had been switched on the day by other vendors to a table right in the corner which I was not expecting. I am not one for confrontation so I just let it go. This may not have had any impact or affect on sales at all, but it did start the day off on a bad note. It may have been avoided if we had arrived even earlier than we did. So make sure you get there early-early.

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2. Know your market, ask questions.
Before you sign up to a market - do some research. Ask the organisers for mini profile of their "expected buyer". Many markets (and particularly markets in the UK) are quite expensive to sign up to - so it is your right to a few questions about the market in general before you sign on. Get an idea of expected foot traffic and the type of buyer who they most likely expect. If you feel unable to ask these questions to the organisers - then take a trip to the market yourself and gauge the type of crowd who is entering, the type of products they are looking at and the items/things they are buying. Your assumed buyer may be very different to the actual buyer.

I got very excited about my first market and jumped in semi-deep end without really doing much research. Since it was an annual School Christmas Fair that I participated in, I wasn't able to have a look at the market before I signed up and I assumed the average buyer would be school parents. In reality, the majority of the "buying power" came from the young kids at the school with their little pounds to spend.

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3. Cater to the expected buyer
If possible, (and in the creative businesses I would usually say it is) cater your products to the expected buyer. For example, had I known that the mass buying power would come from 8 year old girls (as discovered above), I would have created a MASSIVE SPINNING WHEEL-OF-DEATH GAME and Hello-Kitty-ed the SHIT out of my stall. Let me tell you, that when the buyer is an 8 year old girl - you absolutely cannot compete with decorative nail-painting and pink-iced-biscuits. 8 year old girls are not interested in (nor should they be looking at) "Love Vouchers" - which include "professional back massages - with fancy oils" (below).

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(love vouchers: 12 per pack, 2 blank for your own messages)

Whilst my products all have very cartoon/fun/childlike imagery, the humour and target market is for an older crowd (see below). And had I known that the mass buyer were young girls, I would have altered my range slightly. This is not to say that you should abandon your product range and make completely new items based on each individual market - but getting an idea of the expected buyer (which comes from asking questions) will help you get more sales. For example, say you are a baby-bootie knitter, if you know you are going to be at a market which is a Christmas themed affair - why not "grow the size" of your baby booties and knit some epic Christmas stockings?

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4. Mock up  your table beforehand but know the exact dimensions
Mocking up your table beforehand is essential. You can see how things all work together and how they look when they are placed next to each other. You will also way more easily be able to make sure that there is a spectrum of different priced items available. I am so happy that I mocked my table up beforehand and I was really happy with the way it all came out!

Although, as a "test-run" I set up a table in our spare room across two desks. The size of the two desks together were much bigger than the actual trestle table size - and as such things looked a bit more "bunched together" than they should have been. I also ended up putting my "portfolio board" on the floor - for lack of space - which made it not very visible! Get the exact dimensions!
Also - if you set it up at home and force your husband to remember where everything goes - he will be invaluable in helping you set up your table on the day - since he already has an idea of what should go where. Score. Take pictures of your set up, if you think you may forget!

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(left: Portfolio pin board | right: Christmas Gift tags)

5. Engage with customers
This is an obvious one. There were a few people who came over who were very interested in the custom poster designs I had displayed. Of the people that came over - those who I offered information to - ie: "I can do a poster for your whole family, you can use it for personalised greeting cards/present stickers/bedroom decor etc" where those people who picked up business cards and took down my details. Offer people some insight into how your products are created, the processes you use and the services you offer - people love hearing about the creation behind the products.

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(above & below: Peace, Love, Doodles art journal book)
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6. Don't get disheartened
This is by far, the hardest lesson that I have learnt in my first market endeavour. Anyone who knows me, will tell you right away that I have very high expectations for myself. And when those (extremely inflated) expectations are not met, I feel let down. Markets are tough. Unlike a specific shop, where people go, to find exactly what they are looking for, markets cater for "the chance buyer" people who may or may not see something they like, who are there to browse and be part of the market atmosphere more than anything else. People who come to the market may not necessarily be looking for the things that you are selling. If you think of your own experience of "market shopping", it is very different to your experience of walking into Sainsbury's where you know you are going to be spending money. So, it's important not to feel disappointed and not to assimilate those feelings with the products, services and goods you produce. Alternatively, find yourself a good husband who buys you a bunch of red roses to say chin up! (If you haven't found yourself one of those and you have a meh-market day - give me a holler and I will send you some LOVE!)

All in all - it was an awesome first market experience and the things I have learnt from this market which will help me move forward have been invaluable! My main take-away is to find a platform/market that is more suited to my craft. Something like the Renegade Craft Fair or an Etsy collaboration show would be a MUCH better environment for me to have my range showcased at! Learning curve for the win!

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I am SO thankful for everyone who came to say hi and support! Kasha from lines of escape (above) wrote such a lovely write up on her blog! Thank you lovely lady! Also thank you to Lulu from Berry Diaries and Anna, Shan, Paula and Ryan for all coming to say hi! Muchos muchos gracias! I hope you love your indieBerries goodies!

Also - massive thanks to the fam for their support and to husband... 
for all the reasons that you already know <3 br="" nbsp="">
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PS - I have received quite a few emails for price lists of my products  and I have already shipped some goodies to far away places - USA, Singapore and a shipment is off to SA this afternoon! My online store is still under construction (and I will be uploading onto Etsy over the next little while- but it all takes time!) So in the meantime, to save myself repeating the same information over email - I will be posting an album today on the indieBerries Facebook Page with a list of product prices. If you are interested in ordering anything - you can pop me an email at:
che.strawberries @ gmail.com

Shipping prices are dependent on where you live and the products you want to order (weight wise) so get in touch and we can work something out!

11 comments :

Turquoise Teapot said...

Congrats on your first market!

Turquoise Teapot said...
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Che Kershaw said...

ah thank you! it's good to hear! I think I will know for next time the TYPE of market that is more geared to what I offer. thanks for the comment and good vibes! :)

Kasha Dubaniewicz said...

Hi Che!


I'm sorry that the market didn't turn out to be everything you wanted it to be, but I thought your stall and your products were absolutely lovely. Maybe it is as you say - you need to find the right market for what you're offering.


Thanks again for letting me come along to see it all. I'm so excited to see all of the indieBerries products :)

allydlv said...

Hi Ché!
I was looking forward to this post since the weekend. I'm so happy that you decided to share your experience with us.

It sucks that things didn't turn out the way you expected, but I love how you always try to look at the positive side of things. We always learn from experience, no matter how much research we do on something, there is no way of knowing how it's going to turn out until we're there living it, and seeing with our own eyes the things that work or don't work for us. The most important thing is that you take those things you learned and do it differently next time.

I can't wait to visit your finished online store/etsy shop!

-A.

PS. I loved the pics of your display! Good work!

Sarah Jager said...

Could totally relate to this post. Jane and I have done our fair share of markets this year and learnt so much in the process - some sat twiddling our thumbs and eating all our chocs and some run off our feet... Love your stand though - well done, your stuff is awesome xx

Caley said...

Well done girl, valuable lessons learnt and your head still held high! Great way to teach others too x

Natasha Clark said...

This is VERY Hout Bay Market / Bluebird Garage and Biscuit Mill vibes. You should maybe ask a friend (like me) to run a stand for you at a Cape Town market or share some space with someone else that does markets here. Cape Town is about to be PACKED with tourists. You have stock, so I think you should spread it around a bit too - like in black jack when you split your bets. Your products are wonderful, as are you! x

Che Kershaw said...

ah ya! i hear you on that! markets are tough! a big learning curve and I would guess very much "right place, right time/luck of the draw" type of thing! So i think just have to find a market that is more suited to my products. Hope the choccie-biz is going well!! :)

Che Kershaw said...

Ah thank you so much - it was def a big learning curve - but have taken what I can out of it and will implement it next time! Can't wait for my online store to be up and running! :)

Che Kershaw said...

ah thanks Tash - that would actually be awesome! think its about finding the right environment fit for the products - so am also on a scout around here to see which markets would work - problem here is that public liability insurance is so expensive and they are super sticky about it. :( but black jack splitting your bets - i like it!