Here we are post-Balham Craft Fair and I have to say, I'm quite pleased with how it all went. It was a beautiful sunny day and apart from an almost-disaster the night before when I nearly forgot the clocks went forward, it was great! All the vendors were absolutely fantastic and I'd like to say a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of them for their positivity, their enthusiasm and their goodwill in helping with tweeting and publicising the event before and during the day. Here's just a few photos of the event for your enjoyment....
More photos and an independent review of the event can be found here. A full list of the lovely vendors (sadly my camera appears to have given up half-way through the day) can be found listed on my website.
I haven't written for some time on this blog part of the website, mainly because it's so hard to find the time, the energy and to be honest the words! But I thought that I'd post the story of how I came to organise a craft fair in my local area. Maybe it will inspire others to do the same.
I've been finding it really hard to make a voice for my craft business on the internet alone. There's no subsitute for enabling potential customers to see your goods. No matter how good your photos are, it just doesn't convey the feel, the fabric or the essence of what you've worked so hard to make. So, in an effort to get out there a bit more I've been looking for craft fairs to attend. They're so few and far between in London! Most craft fairs are huge affairs at Christmas time or Easter and they can cost upwards of £300-£800 for a table, for a small business owner like me this is just completely unfeasible. After looking around London for a while and feeling increasingly frustrated, I realized that perhaps I could organise my own craft fair!
So, being very brave, I contacted my local pub. The reason for contacting the Balham Bowls Club was that they already host a very successful vintage fair and I thought it might be worth asking them if they'd like to try a craft fair for a bit of variety. To my complete amazement, they said yes, gave me a room and a date and told me to get on with it!
Skip to several weeks later, I have managed to get 10 tables organised with crafters and designers from S London. To my surprise, it wasn't that hard, in fact in the end I had a waiting list! I designed some artwork for advertising. I've had flyers printed up, posters done and next week they'll start appearing in local shops.
So, here's hoping it's a good event. It'd be great to see you on the day if you're in the area!
My day starts at 6.30am when the alarm goes off. I usually groan, switch it off and then sleep again until either I wake up with a jump 10 minutes later or I sleep for another 40 minutes and then wake up in a panic that I’m late for work.
My new routine involves eating breakfast. I find this really hard. For years I never ate breakfast and now I’m training myself to expect food first thing in the morning. It’s usually porridge or muesli and a cup of coffee. Then I leave for the horrible journey to work.
I work full-time in an office so every day is the same, on the way in I get two trains and a bus into central London and then the journey in reverse on the way home. I HATE it! The first train is always late (or maybe it just feels like this). Then the second train is always packed and then the bus is like a rugby scrum. I try to tell myself it’s fun, but it isn’t.
On arrival at work, I usually start the day by checking emails, putting together a list of things to do and talking to other staff about projects we’re working on and what I need to do help move things forward. By the end of the day at 5pm, I’m really looking forward to going home. Reverse the morning journey, add in a 59 bus that always smells like pee (yes, really it does) and I’m home by 6pm or 6.30pm at the latest (those blasted trains again).
At this point my day properly starts in terms of Emma Barrett Designs and making handmade crafts or doing something creative. This is my favourite part of the day. I usually check facebook to see if I need to reply to messages and I check my emails to see if there are any orders to fill and if there are, I spend time doing this. I always try to reply the same day to questions and I try to get bracelet and jewellery orders out the same day. If it’s a big order like my handmade bunting which I make especially then it can take up to five days to finish. After that I have dinner and by then it’s usually about 7.30 or 8pm at night.
If I’m not too tired, I might do some drawing or make some new products. I like working at night, I feel more creative in the evenings than I do in the morning however, it’s not a good time to take photos of my products as the light isn’t great so I save that for weekend mornings.
By about 11.00pm I usually stop because I’m tired and starting to get grumpy at that point!
It’s a busy life but it’s fun to be doing something I love every day. One day I hope that it will be the only thing I do each day, it’d be great to just commute across the hallway to the study every morning.
Today I'm writing about the power of the customer and also about colour. When I started buying beads from Beads Direct, making bracelets and posting photos on facebook, it was really out of curiosity to see if anyone else liked what I was making. It was a total surprise when people started asking if they could 'buy' bracelets from me. So I carried on making bracelets and sometimes people were interested in buying them and other times not so much. It's hard to know what kind of bracelets people like so imagine my joy on discovering facebook had an app called 'questions'. You can ask your fans what they like and in this way tailor your products to their needs. So I decided rather than radomly buying the beads I like from Beads Direct, I should ask my lovely fans what colours they liked and buy accordingly.
So I decided to buy some lovely red and silver beads from Beads Direct in an effort to respond to my fans wants and desires. Their useful colour-coding feature on their website means you can easily choose from a colour range rather than having to trawl through each individual section searching for what you want.
The beads arrived in the usual prompt fashion from Beads Direct and as always they were packaged beautifully with tissue paper and bubble wrap.
I got to work, I had chosen my colours based on reds and silvers and I combined the new beads with some I already had in stock. The idea is to use just a few beads to create a lovely bracelet especially for my fans who voted on my facebook page. I also bought some really pretty red and white fabric beads, they're really big and chunky and I thought they'd look good as a real statement on a bracelet.
I started stringing them on elastic and then slowly built up to the length I wanted by testing it on my wrist.
Until finally it seemed long enough and ready to tie off and glue to finish.
The finished bracelets look good, I just hope my fans like them...after all it was all their idea!