Tips for getting started in Art & Craft Shows and my own business journey

When I first started thinking about creating my own business and doing craft shows, I had to do some research along with determining what types of products I wanted to make. My husband had greatly encouraged me to start my own business after my temporary work position was cut back in the Summer of 2019. In all honesty, I truly did miss creating art and craft items with my hands. Even though I have an extensive art background and picked up crocheting back in 2008-there was a period of time I stopped doing all that. I felt like I had lost that fun, creative part of myself. So starting my own business was a re-discovery of what I love doing: creating art and craft items. My journey with my business has had some good days and bad days. But overall it has been a great learning experience.

One of the hardest parts what trying to figure my business name, create a logo, a website and start marketing my business. I finally was able to use my College Graphic Design degree along with my art skills and created a logo. It’s part watercolor painting featuring a paint brush and crochet hook. I then added text with it to get the final logo.

I did do some research online for different businesses or creators that made art and craft items to get an idea of possible business names. After several drafts I came up with Crafty Side of Karen which encompasses my artist and crafty side of my business.

Even though I spent the better part of the rest of 2019 developing my business, I was able to meet some people that became my very first customers. I was able to do some custom orders for them which they were thrilled with. In that time I worked on what items I wanted to create and sell. Primarily focusing on watercolor painting and Amigurumi food crochet. Thankfully my husband who does website design as his side business helped me create a beautiful website. I would created the crocheted items and watercolor paintings, then we would photography them and get them up on my website.

Some unplanned things may happen while getting started with your own business and doing shows. But at times you need to get creative to solve different problems. In 2020, I was fortunate to be able to do my first couple of craft shows until everything shut down for the pandemic. This was a crushing experience with officially launching my business in beginning of 2020 and not sure what to do next since I could no longer do shows for the rest of year. Thankfully I did not let this deter me from continuing with my business, I had to get creative. I did find some local Facebook virtual markets in which I was able to sell some of my products on which I was grateful for. During this time it gave me the chance to better refine my craft and allowed me to build up stock of my crocheted items. I was always on the lookout for different opportunities to get my name and business out there.

One thing I find very helpful is looking for different art and craft shows that you are interested in possibly participating in the future. It’s always wonderful talking to the different vendors especially that make something similar to what you are interested in doing: craft items or artwork. You can always ask them questions and they are always helpful. I have discovered by attending different shows as a shopper and talking with vendors that I learned a lot. At one show I saw a local artist that had beautiful prints and greeting cards of her work. After talking with her, I got a recommendation of a local printer to go to. This helped since I was interested in finding a place locally to get prints and greeting cards of my watercolor paintings done.

When I am at a show, I enjoy talking to other vendors and I usually ask them what shows they do. This is how I found out about a lot of different art and craft shows that I wouldn’t have known about. I do find that when you talk to vendors they are more than happy to chat and help answer any questions. Another resource that I have found helpful is on Facebook: The Wisconsin Arts & Craft Show and here people post about different shows, it’s a community where you can ask different questions about shows, booth setups etc. You can always check out social media to see if there is a art or craft group that might fit your needs. It amazing the amount of information you can find online to help you out.

Another thing to keep in mind is to take a look at different booth setups to get ideas for your future booth display. I also did research online as well for different booth setups. Overtime my booth setups have changed due to me finding a better way to display my artwork and crocheted items. Every show I’ve done is a learning experience. On numerous occasions at different shows that I have participated in, I enjoy seeing some familiar faces of the vendors. It’s great to be able to get to know them too and known that we are always rooting for each other to be successful.

Social media is very helpful in promoting your business, along with doing shows and networking. Whether it’s through Instagram, Facebook or another social media platform. You will need to find out what works best for you. There are a lot of tutorials available online to help you get setup.

It does take some work starting your own business whether it’s full time or a side hustle. Everything will not happen overnight but the more you put into your business the more you will get out of it. Never be afraid to ask help from your family, friends or others. I feel that some of my best supports are friends, family, customers that continue to help my business grow. Whether it be by referring others to my business, those that purchase items at shows, or people that follow me on social media or leave reviews-this all helps me continue to grow my business.

I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. I am fortunate enough to be creative everyday in making different Amigurumi items or creating watercolor paintings. It does give me joy when I am able to interact with different customers and vendors at shows-seeing the smiles that my items bring to their faces.

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