WonderHill Christmas Market ( aka that one blog I was honest about craft fairs)

I'm going to be a bit frank here.

I never have any luck at craft fairs. I did a whole bunch of them in 2011 and I can only think of one or two that went really well. I generally really enjoy myself, its a great place to meet people and hang out having a chat, particularly when I team up with the wife so I have company, but I am always a bit gutted afterwards when they really, do not go as well as I had hoped.
I feel strange admitting that here, because it feels like you are supposed to always be positive about this kind of thing and put up some kind of 'gung ho' happiness front at times when it comes to being an 'Etsy' type. I try and look on the bright side, and hey yeah I have a good time. But I feel like I spend days before the event making stock, planning table layouts (I missed my calling as a shop merchandiser, by the way) and promoting the event online - it takes a lot more effort then just sitting about all day waiting for people to come in. And then you get there, and its nice and you meet some nice people, but you struggle to make back the cost of the table and about 50% of the people are a bit up their own arses (thats the frank talking) and hard to talk to. One event in particular a woman actually recoiled in horror when I just said hello to her (Stoke Newington dare I say it) - totally unessecary when you just want to have a chat and be - god forbid - polite.
I think going forward I might cut back the amount of craft fairs I take part in, for my own sanity, and focus my energy on promoting my store online. 2011 saw Dear oh Deer come along in leaps and bounds online, and I plan to carry that over in 2012. I think I'll keep doing the odd local craft fair here and there, but for the most part. I am just not sure they are for me. I never feel like my stock "fits in". Maybe I don't put enough brass bird charms or teapots on my necklaces, but I'm not ready to compromise my work just to try and be 'on trend' make a few bob.
In saying all of that I had a really nice day at WonderHill just before Christmas, met lots of lovely people and did some trades for knitwear! WonderHill is a really great market and KiKi does such a great job with it, I'll definitley be back for more Wonder!
[more photos]


  1. Particularly at the very busy fairs I think it is hard (as a punter) to focus on anything but the loudest, brashest stalls. I actually agree that they're probably not the ideal place for you. Your jewellery is just quieter and more lovely. X

  2. Wow, the bracelet in the second photo! I can't see it in your shop, but I adore it!

  3. I think Melbourne hit handmade market saturation about 18 months before London. (When I visited in Oct 2009 I couldn't find a single craft market advertised.) There were a whole bunch of us spent 12 to 24 months loving doing market stalls, before one by one we accepted that the time and cost we invested were in no way compensated. The people who make money out of craft markets are the ones collecting the stall fees. Almost all my crafty friends now just run online shops, and do a couple favourite markets a year where they know they'll like the customers and other stallholders. The makers who still do markets are the ones for whom it's a fulltime job - people with fine arts or textiles degrees. For the hobbyist it's just not feasible.

  4. @ Chuck - thanks lovely, thats pretty much my thoughts too!

    @ Nicola - Alas that was the only one of those bracelets and it was one of the only things I sold that day! I am going to make some more and get them up in the store later this month I hope.

    @Jennie - You know the comment you make about people running the markets being the only people who really make money is what I've been thinking for a long while. Its £25 a stall generally and I struggle to make that back a lot of the time. I do generally give out a lot of cards and have a bunch of people order from my store afterwards though which is nice, I do always notice a high volume of store traffic right after I do a market.

    There are just a huge amount of markets happening these days and its hard a a punter to know which to go to. I think rather than spend £25 on a market every month I'm going to put more time and money into online advertising for sure.

  5. Beautiful photographs and stunning accessories! love them! :)

  6. Everything you say is true. Craft fairs and bazaars are great for exposure and handing out busines cards in hopes it'll pay off if people look you up later online. But for actual fair sales it is very hard to cover the cost of the table and make it worth the time it took to get ready for the thing and then the hours sitting there all day. People are funny, some are overwhelmed by all the stimulation around them and don't really check out anything in particular, others back off if you even make eye contact, and others are full of questions. Also frustrating is when people treat craft shows like flea markets and expect to bargain or pay a pittance. But it is exciting to be part of it all, especially during the holiday.
    Good luck, your line is beautiful and unique

  7. first, let me say that you don't always have to be positive. it's only normal to get discouraged with things, and i think a craft fair can be really annoying. i've done a few and i've learned which ones work for me. there are two downtown which are completely pathetic. luckily it only costs $10 to have a space, but i only sold one $17 dollar necklace at one fair, and at the other one, i sold two bracelets. on the other hand, there is this art gallery about an hour north of here that has two events for local artists and designers to come and set up shop, and i make hundreds of dollars there, and the people are actually friendly which makes a HUGE difference.

    i think your jewelry is great, and the earrings you make with feathers, stones, and chain are gorgeous, and i think if you find the right crowd, they'll buy you completely out!

  8. It's already been said, but always being positive on blogs is sometimes disproportionate to daily life. Your jewelry is amazing and while I understand being disheartened, I do think you have the right attitude, too. And I'll undoubtedly swipe something off your etsy shop soon, no doubt. /dodaddict.

  9. I'm so fed up of seeing bird charms and teapots on etsy, it seems like everybody is doing it. Oddly I never see people in real life wearing teapots and bird charms, so are they really doing it to make money, or just through a lack of imagination?