I like running an internet craft business. It's warm and dry and apart from visits to the post office I can mostly do it in my pyjamas. I also have a lovely support network of other crafters, especially on my Facebook page. Whilst I wouldn't know them from Adam should I bump into them in the street (unless they too were in the post office queue in their pyjamas, which would be a dead giveaway), Facebook regulars such as LizzieMade, FionaT and OddSox make the virtual world seem like one big crafty community as homeworkers everywhere wait with bated breath for the 5 o'clock Friday wine bell to be rung by Little Black Heart.
So it was more in the aid of facing a fear than anything else that made me sign up to do my first actual, Real Life (TM) craft fair stall last weekend.
I live in West Norwood, a suburb of South London that has in recent years become home to the West Norwood Feast - a 'people powered market' that takes over the area on the first Sunday of every month. There are food stalls, craft stalls, performance areas, and a general feeling of villageyness (yes, that is a word. now.), in this unassuming high street. Since I live literally walking distance from the Artisans Hub (posh words for 'craft stall bit'), I thought it was time to stop spectating and get involved.
The month or so running up to the Feast saw me in a flurry of activity, desperately trying to get enough items made to have a respectable-looking stall. Finally, after burning the candle at both ends for so long that I gave up and chucked it on the fire, I was ready.
The night before I set out all my wares on a practice table at home. Eschewing the idea of a boring white tablecloth, I found this smashing spotty affair in IKEA. An eleventh-hour panic about how to display jewellery was quelled by the ever-resourceful Significant Otter, who invented the mushroomy-looking thing on the right of the table. It's a lampshade, stuck on top of an old gin bottle. And it spins! Honestly, that man could give MacGyver a run for his money. I'd worry, if his freaky talents weren't so useful.
|The actual table was much bigger. I will remember this next time....|
I was ready. I had stock, I had stuff to put stock in and on, I knew where I was going and when I had to get there.
Unfortunately, I also had a birthday dinner to go to that evening. The phrase "I'll just have a couple of glasses of wine, I've got a busy day tomorrow" was heard to escape my lips early on, but was quickly forgotten.
I learned the hard way, so you don't have to, that craft fairs are probably best attempted without a hangover.
|I'm pretty sure the TARDIS parking space brought me luck.|
Against my expectations, I really enjoyed myself. I was convinced that people would think my stuff overpriced, underwhelming, badly made - all those things that the sensible me knows aren't true but that still rear their heads. But it soon became clear that my stall - and my items - were making people smile and, importantly, part with their cash.
Would I do it again? Definitely, although with a full-time job as well I would never be able to maintain stock levels high enough to do fairs every week, or even every month. But it was a great confidence-booster to show off my work in the real world.
Having said that, I'm glad to be getting back to my custom orders and my online shop. Perhaps when I am a rich lady of leisure I'll be able to do both, but for now, I'm off back to Facebook to find out what everyone's been up to without me.