Monday, 25 April 2011

Craft Fairs - Pain Or Pleasure?

Welcome to Handmade Monday 13 organised by Wendy of 1stuniquegifts which welcomes crafters, each week, to share their week of crafting with fellow readers.
I missed last week as was busy preparing new stock for the long awaited and most anticipated Pennine Fairs first event of the year at Sywell Aerodrome, Hangar One in Northampton.
Over 60 exhibitors travelled this weekend to this well acclaimed fair with high expectations of a successful and profitable weekend.
Run by "The Anns" these fairs promote handmade crafts and all stalls are personally vetted to maintain a high quality fair.
I arrived rather late on Sunday morning and was pleasently suprised to be next to my lovely friend CJ from Curious Cat. I set up quickly and had a quick look around the fair.

As always the stalls were of a high standard and there was a lovely variation and a few faces i hadnt seen before as well as many that i had.

My favourite stall of the day was run by Irene Campsill with her gorgeous "handbags for individualists". These photos dont really do the bags justice but believe me they are beautifully made and very individual.

Irene spent a lot of time sitting sewing and i spent a lot of time observing, fascinated by her work and such attention to detail. You can find her designs on her website

As always the fair was well attended and had a high footfall.

I found myself, quite often, people watching.

I love to sit and watch as exhibitors explain their crafts in detail and the visitors keenly listen and take in everything being said.

Crafters at work are amazing to watch.

Even in quiet moments you will see stall holders chat, laugh,share experiences and knowledge and quite often good friendships are formed. And we all share with each other joy when our goods are purchased and dismay when the day is not so good.

But there is a downside to this crafting world. As i said you have high hopes that this fair will be your success story. You are passionate about what you do, it excites you and suddenly you have a bad day, few sales, and you start to question the worthwhileness of this journey that you are on.

I have witnessed today one stall holder at such a low point after not reaching their weekend goal that they were actually reduced to tears at the sheer frustration of spending hours creating something new and original
and not reaping the rewards that they truely deserve.

So does the GOOD outweigh the BAD?

And just for your amusement let me share with you 3 ignorant public remarks from this weekend, i'm sure you have heard plenty more in your time!

"Would you give me a discount on your bag as the straps are too long and i will be adjusting them myself?"

"I know this is cheeky but if i bought 5 pen cases would you give me a discount?" "I cant really as they are only £3"" Ok i thought i would ask, i wanted to sell them in my shop"

"These tooth fairy pillows are gorgeous, bit expensive though" "You wouldnt think £8 expensive if you had sat for 3 hours making them!"

Thanks for stopping by today, hope you enjoyed the read. For more interesting craft tales pop by Wendys blog and read what other crafters have been up to this week.

And incidently the lady bought the tooth fairy pillow!!!!!!

Until Next Time


  1. Loved reading that. It's interesting to get a flavor of what it's like at those craft fairs, since I don't participate. Sometimes it seems like it would be great fun (meeting other crafters in person!) rather like dog shows which I have participated in for years. But there is always a downside. I can make my things and not have to worry that someone else won't like it, or listen to criticism or imagine how much someone is willing to pay for my hard work. That must be difficult.
    But thank you for sharing, I enjoyed it. :)

  2. A lot of people really don't get how long some of these beautiful things take to make....I think £8 for the tooth fairy pillow is amazing value!!
    S x

  3. We all put so much emotion into preparing for a fair, but it is important to put up the barrier ready for the slights, and insults that are scattered our way.
    A customer told me this weekend I couldn't expect to get my time paid for!

  4. Beautiful photos and a real insight into fairs. Unfortunately, there is a certain sector of the public who assume fairs are for bargains: buying from stallholders who craft in their spare time for peanuts. I'm sure there is a knack to organising a fair that dispels these myths but I'm not sure what it is. Actually, they are not myths: we've all seen people make stuff and almost give it away. I'm sure it's down to lack of confidence in their product as much as anything else. For the underconfident, some of these comments must be nightmares.
    Thank heavens for websales, where customers seem more willing to spend!
    My favourite customer quote, which sums it up? "Oh what a lovely hobby to have!" She meant well, but that night I carried my stock down an unlit, wet, outdoor staircase in cold, wind and rain. The downside to my lovely 80-hours-a-week hobby!!!
    Rant over - thanks for taking part in HM xx

  5. Interesting post, I blogged back in 2009 and likened a craft fair to giving birth...I haven't attended a craft fair since and probably never will.

    Shocking! £8 for a tooth fairy said it took 3 hours to make, well that makes them at least £18 each just accounting for your time!


  6. Lisa - how did your flowers go down? They look fantastic on the pics of your stall.

    As to the buying patterns, it is just so difficult. The lady who ran the felting course I went to last week only does shows from Sept - December as that is when people are disposed to buying - but we agreed as long as you have a good selection under a tenner then people are more willing to consider buying.

  7. Very interesting post! I also had a comment at the weekend that I couldn't expect my time to be paid for... and I agree with Wendy saying thank goodness for the internet! You really do need confidence in your products & prices, and need a thick skin too. There are always people who don't appreciate handmade products and won't pay a reasonable price - it's very tricky finding craft fairs where the 'right sort' of customers will go, but the one you attended sounds fabulous! Wish it was nearer to me so I could go too!!

  8. I definately felt like I was at the event with my family :) I was so pleased to hear of those who did well (and rightly so) But my heart goes out to those who sold little and for whom this is their job! Talking to people who say if it carrys on like this we're going to lose the business :( Its so wrong and so unfair when you see the high quality products these people are producing. Ah well, I enjoyed the great company and I might now be the proud owner of one of Irene's bags!!

  9. wow wonderful handmade :) I realy love all accessories that u made, I like to make accessories too , I hope u can visit me back in my website , my blog , thank u :)