Hey lovelies! It's Thursday and sunny, warm and Spring out. Life is grand.
No but really. The reason I am writing is that I got back last week from the One of a Kind Show in Toronto and am once again so full of inspiration and ideas that I wante to share some insight with those of you looking to maybe do a trade show but not knowing if it's the right time or even worth it. When I was about to do my first show last Christmas I got some answers from fellow artists and was so grateful for the inside scoop.
There's a lot of stress when thinking about Trade Shows, we have so many questions as artists about cost vs. how much we'll sell. Is it worth it? we ask ourselves. It's a huge investment and feels like a gigantic risk that may not pay off in the end. I think it does. If you're prepared to work hard, talk lots about your work and your process, show genuine interest in other people and put together a booth that really showcases what you're offering, I think trade shows can only bring good. Just the fact of putting yourself out there to an audience that big is worth it, you'll never look at your business the same way again after an investment (money and energy) this large.
I chose to start small, with the Rising Star booth option - at Christmas (the 11 day show) it cost me about $1150 or $1200 for the 3x4 space (just the space and electricity). Here are some images of my booth - since each vendor gets 2 shots at this discounted section - one at Christmas and once in Spring, I obviously wanted to be able to use it at least twice and keep one main part of it in my studio after, bringing the cost per show down lots.
This piece of furniture has 8 trays for all of my prints and a ton of storage for wrapping, bags, snacks, shoe change and other stuff. My friend Eric built it for $250 ($125 per show) and I obviously use the wooden furniture in my studio for print storage. So that was an economical way to build a custom self standing booth.
I paid about $1000 for the show this time round (or a bit more) using the same booth and next show I do will be in a 10x10 booth (way more pricey at around $4000 I believe?)
The sales of this show were almost half of the Christmas show (which I was happy about) but the contacts were much more specific and fruitful - so I would think eventually it will bring in about 75% of what the Christmas market did, even if that takes the rest of the year to roll in. If anybody has any questions about the show, feel free to ask away - a few artists answered lots of questions I had before the show at Christmas and it was so helpful.
Breaks / (Get your to work)
This time I let my mom watch my booth while I ran for breaks (she hung out with me the ENTIRE time - trooper that she is - so really knew how to sell my products). This made a huge difference as I didn't get many breaks during Christmas and lost my voice on day 7. *Sidenote: I came back from one break to my mom telling a client "Yes these are so great, my daughter makes them!" - oh my God. Who could sell your work better than your own mother, really?! Best.
Loving your clients!
Free tickets; this time instead of giving my complimentary passes to my friends and buddies (I used my staff badges for them and then made them work by giving me breaks or grabbing me coffee) I sent complimentary passes to all my best customers in Toronto. It was such a pleasure to connect in real life with all these awesome people and made the custom drawings I've been doing for them that much more special. I held two babies for whom I'd done Name Prints (before they were born) and hugged a girl I'd worked with to create the most perfect map for her famous Poker Playing boyfriend - she got to tell me the feedback that he said it was the best gift anybody had ever given him which was so great to hear.
Get lots of it. Spend some money to get good lighting. It is THE single easiest thing you can do to make your work look awesome. Don't "save $200" by opting out of paying electricity. Your booth will look like shit and you will lose that money so fast.
The following lists helped me so much leading up to the show:
- Inventory (obviously) - how much, where will it be stored, how will it be packaged?
- Packaging - Write down exactly how much of each kind of packaging you'll need and how they'll walk away with it (bag? tube? with stickers? tissue paper?) Do this with every product.
- On line shop coupons (create these ahead of time to give to special customers or repeats clients)
- Promo and treats (what will people walk away with from your booth? Stickers, cards, pins, or postcards. Anything that makes them smile is a good idea.) I kept fresh flowers and plants on my booth as I wanted to spruce up the setup a bit since last show.
- Clothes (plan out a few outfits you can rotate to avoid panicking the morning of. I tend to wear the same thing everyday but didn't want to do that at a show like this. Last time around I had no clothes and didn't have the money to buy new stuff so I made a cross-back apron dress from this free pattern in bright red linen that my mom got on sale and added two large pockets on the front for all the stuff I needed at all times. Lifesaver. Also got tons of compliments!
- Square Enter all your SKUs and pricing for the event ahead of time. I did mine on the train on the way down. Add taxes according to the province you're going to be in.
- Comfort - Do you have really comfy shoes? Do you have a squishy mat to stand on? I got this one, cheap and really works. (super important if you have back / neck pain) Do you have medicine for any potential physical problems that could arise? Have a huge water bottle filled every morning. Take vitamins.
- Where will you keep things? Imagine going through a transaction - where will your money, pen, phone with Square app be? Aprons are a great idea. Throw a bottle of hand sanitizer in there - shake hands often but don't touch your face .
- Notes - What will you use to track sales, take notes, attach business cards, basically empty your head everyday and night into for follow up after? I used tabs to separate my sales per day (exactly what I sold), follow ups, ideas, and new contacts.
There you go people. If you have any other questions feel free to ask - I'll share what I know.
No go eat some chocolate and go for a walk!