By Monica Ng
You open your inbox and you see a new email from the market you’ve recently applied to.
“Congratulations! Your application was successful!”
You ogle at this sentence and you begin to buzz with excitement. You do a happy dance, Elaine Benes style to celebrate your success and show off your rad moves to the four walls of the room you’re sitting in. Yaaay!
My jewellery shop, Geometric Skies has participated in a variety of showcases and markets including some specialty designer markets such as the Sydney Finders Keepers, the Etsy Interactive Exhibition at the Fracture Gallery in Federation Square as part of the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, RAW Artists’ first Sydney showcase, The Makery and the fashion markets at Bondi Beach and Kirribilli.
I started from scratch as a complete newbie and through these experiences over the past year, I’ve gained some insight and learned some tricks that may help set up your market day for success. Regardless of whether it’s your first time, or if you’re a seasoned stallholder, here are a few pointers to help you prepare for your next event.
Think about your display
Dedicate some time to how you want to set out your work. This is especially important if there’ll be a lot of other stallholders selling similar types of items, like jewellery. I’ve seen a lot of jewellery designers at markets lay their pieces flat on tables, which may make it more difficult for customers walking by to see the work from afar.
How can your display be different to other stallholders?
Can you arrange it at different levels? Use busts? Racks? Trees?
Will you be buying these props or will you construct them?
What materials will they be made from?
What do these materials say about your brand?
Try to be consistent and use the same materials to display your goods, as this gives your shop a cleaner and more cohesive look.
Also, consider using a mannequin. I use a half body mannequin, so customers can see from afar how some of my more adventurous pieces like ‘The Lily body chain’ looks and fits. Often, this draws in customers who wander up to my shop to have a closer look and to 'ooh' and 'ahh'.
How will you display your shop’s logo? Laser cut on acrylic, wood or another material? Painted or printed on canvas? Wooden or metal letters? Sounds like a fun DIY activity!
Will you be bringing your own table or will you hire one? If you’re using a tablecloth, make sure it’s wrinkle free.
Bring marketing materials
What if the customer doesn’t buy today, but wanted to show their friend first before making a decision? How will they ever find your work again? What if they do buy, and want to share your other work with their friends and family?
Be sure to bring business cards, postcards, a mailing list sign up sheet, branded packaging, or an iPad with photos of your work and a slideshow of press clippings. These are all great items to promote your shop. If you need help designing these, why not ask your friends and family to see if there’s someone who can help you?
Printing business cards doesn’t have to be expensive as there are some inexpensive online options like Moo, Vistaprint, or Print Together where you simply upload your design, and they’ll print it and post it straight to you.
Also, prior to the event, remember to publicise it! Speaking of publicity…
Tell everyone about your event!
Tell your friends, family and colleagues. Even if you think they won’t ever buy from you, they may forward the news of your event to people who will. Let your existing customers know too!
Publicise your event through different channels such as your blog, word of mouth, newsletter and social media.
Be a “yes” person and set up future sales
Is the size too big, too small, too short or too long for your customer? Offer the option for customisation.
At the market, consider offering a free shipping or discount coupon to customers for their next purchase.
Running a competition can help direct traffic and add new followers to your blog, mailing list and social media channels. Why not try partnering up with a blogger to help increase your competition’s outreach?
Be prepared for all weather conditions
If the market is outdoors, bring warm clothes, hat, sunblock, snacks/drinks and a chair to keep you going during the day. If business is super busy and you can’t get duck away to buy some food, at least you have some snacks to keep you going.
Also, sandbags for your gazebo are a lifesaver (in case it gets windy). I’ve seen some gazebos blow away before and not only is it dangerous to yourself and others, it could also result in property damage. If weather conditions become too dangerous, it's the organiser's discretion whether trading can continue. Safety first!
Pack the night before (or even earlier), to save yourself a freak out the morning of the event. Use the checklist below so you’re not kicking yourself at the event for forgetting something.
• Stationery/admin: blu-tack, pen, notebook, measuring tape, screwdrivers, drill, receipt book, bull clips, plastic bags, duct or masking tape
• Sales: Sufficient change in your float, credit card machine, mobile phone, phone charger
• Furniture and accessories: tables, chairs, trolley, gazebo, sand bags
• Props/display: Stands, mannequins, table cloth, signage, business card holder + extra business cards, price tags, mailing list sign up sheet, packaging
• Enough stock to sell (always better to take more, than less)
• Personal: Mini first aid kit, snacks/drinks, hat, sunblock, warm clothes, umbrella
Network with other stallholders
Get to know your neighbours and become friends! Gather business cards so you can remain in contact after the event. You never know when a collaboration opportunity might pop up and you’ll be kicking yourself for not getting their contact details.
Sometimes business is so crazy, before you know it you’ve sold out of everything. Congratulations! On other days, business may not be as well as you hoped it would be. Perhaps it’ll pick up later on in the day or the next person that stops will shop up a storm. Stay positive and enjoy the experience.
Monica Ng left her accounting career at the end of 2013 and began studying a two-year jewellery and object design diploma at the Design Centre, Enmore in 2014. She blogs at www.geometricskies.wordpress.com and you can also find her on Instagram @geometric_skies, www.facebook.com/geometricskies, and her Etsy shop/
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