NORTHERN INK - Our first craft fair

Recently we attended Northen Ink, a craft fair hosted by Northern Craft, Leeds Tattoo Expo and Awesome Merchandise. This was our first ever craft fair, and one that we set a goal to be a part of this year, so we were stoked when we got the email confirming our stall!

Due to this being our first fair, we then had a lot to prepare to ensure we were going to be ready for it. So we hit the drawing board to get down ideas for the items we wanted to display. Once we had a rough idea, we headed to get the materials to make props for our stall, We spent a total of £22 on everything we needed to make our stands/signs. We wanted to make our stand look bespoke, and thought the best way to do this was just to make everything ourselves, we wanted a rustic look anyway so it didn't really matter that our woodworking skills weren't great.

We spent a couple of late nights printing more stock at Hey Ho Print Co, we had just released a new collection but wanted to make sure previous designs were fully stocked up ready for the event, plus the event was on the 13th, so we decided to release a new product too (the black version of the 'LOVE YOU TO DEATH' t-shirt). We finally finished everything for our stall by 12 pm on Friday night, it was close but we got everything sorted and ready to set off early in the morning.

Here's our checklist for the day:

  • Card reader, we decided to go with iZettle, we managed to pick up the card reader for £29 delivered, and it paid for its self on the day as the majority of people paid by card.
  • Cash tin, with a change float (£50 worked fine for us)
  • Receipt book, no one actually wanted a receipt but it was better to have it.
  • Branded bags. Seems as we screen print all the items ourselves we were able to get brown paper bags in a couple of different sizes and brand them ourselves, it made a difference when people who purchased were walking around with our name on display.
  • A small toolkit with pens, pencils, blu tack and tape in case.
  • Store sign, if people are looking for your stall, it makes it easier to find you.
  • A tablecloth, this was recommended by Northern Craft, and it makes a difference for hiding spare stock below your stand without looking cluttered to the public.
  • Sweet bags, we put these with every purchase and seeing peoples reactions were worth it, it was just a moment which helps them remember us, as well as sharing the spare with our neighbouring stalls.
  • Business cards, quite a few people who didn't purchase on the day took a card and then converted to new followers on social, or a customer afterwards through the site.

The day arrived and we were all set and ready to go on time. We set off with plenty of time and got there just after the doors opened for load in. When we arrived I was pretty nervous about doing the fair but was able to laugh it off with Leah, being a team of two we're able to support each other when we need to. Organiser Sean Mort was around and able to help us unload the car and set up our stall pretty quickly. Those couple of hours for setting up just disappeared but we were finished just in time for the opening crowd. 

Once we had the first sale and I had my first beer (the event took place and in Northern Monk so I had to try one beer) it was smooth sailing from there, the initial nerves had gone and we met some awesome customers. The footfall for this event was great, we were constantly seeing new faces go around the place, and familiar ones coming back and making a day of it. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a tattoo, I tried to get booked in around 12:30 after the initial rush but all the artists were booked up! However, this did mean I had a chance to check out some of the other vendors. The level of craft from everyone was insane, we were particularly drawn to HORD's stall, their handcrafted leather goods were amazing so I picked up a patch. 

Whilst there we were able to enjoy the day but also take away what we could do better for our next event, the whole process is new to us so we're just taking every opportunity to learn how we could improve our stall. A couple of things we think we can improve on next time were:

  • We should have had items individually priced, we had a chalkboard in front of the stand, but more people kicked it then noticed it, so it wasn't very effective, having individual prices next to items would have been a lot better.
  • We didn't display the fact that our items are all organic, and printed with water based inks, we were able to mention this in passing to people but we should have highlighted this fact a bit more.
  • We had a lot of stock and keeping it organised underneath our stall was a task. Having sizes labelled and organised into better stackable boxes would have worked much better. We only opted for a 3ft stall as we're still building our product range up so making the most of what space we had was key.

Overall we had a great day and really enjoyed meeting some of our customers and all the other awesome vendors. If you're a maker be sure to attend the Northern craft events if you can! We had a great time and can't wait to attend more, hopefully as a vendor but also as a customer. 

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