Monday, January 24, 2011

Craft Business: Changing Directions and Increasing Sales

Image by modomatic, via Flickr. Used with permission.

It's story time!

I have a craft business. (Thank goodness! What am I writing about here, anyway?) My husband and I make and sell handmade soap. For the past 6 years, we've been doing this primarily at farmer's markets. There are a lot of them in our area, so this is a lucrative choice for us.

Our best and favorite market is luckily our local one--it's only 2 miles away. We love it there; we have a loyal customer base, and meet new people every year who become repeat customers. The market has live music and great ready-to-eat food, so families often come to spend some time each week. It's fantastic.

Our Saturday market has moved around for the past few years. We started out just doing Sundays. The next year, we wanted to expand, so we thought we would add a Saturday market. Since then, we have participated in three different markets: two years at one, one year at another, and two years at this last one. The first one was too far to drive; the second one went defunct, and the third one just didn't perform as well as we had expected.

Last year, the Saturday market was so bad, we decided mid-way through that we would not go there the next year. Well, here we are, the next year, and we are making decisions about the direction we want to go.

Our goal this year? Increased retail and private label sales. Our decisions?
  1. Attend one craft fair/market per month (as available) on Saturdays, varying the location.
    I have already signed up for a market that happens three times per year. I am looking at an April market that is the first of four per year, and another show that happens the first Saturday of the month, May - October. I've investigated one show that happens the second Saturday of each month--it's a bit of a drive, but may be financially worth it. I'm planning on doing a large craft show in December, too.
  2. Increase contact with shop/spa owners who may want to do private label body products. We would make the products--they would buy them from us, label and sell them. We would replenish their supply via repeat orders. The ideas for shop owners vary--we've got a lot of leads. We have one client already, from last year, who has already re-ordered!
  3. Create a monthly sale for the website, and advertise it through our newsletter list.
Our progress?

  1. I've signed up for one market, and I'm still reviewing the other options. I need to print out a bunch of calendars and line them up, marking all important dates, so nothing overlaps. I have also signed up and paid to be a sponsor of the handmade soap competition in the first ever Denver County Fair!
  2. I have made a list of shop owners to contact this month.
  3. I created a sale for January, and sent notification to the newsletter list. I got 6 sales.

January has been successful for our plan, but it could be better. I hope to be able to report that I have a new private label client in February. What do you think of our progress? Lame? or Awesome? What do you think I should add?


  1. Anonymous1:21 PM

    I think it's great progress. :) Admittedly, I'm a new follower to your blog and twitter but my family and I did the craft-show circuit for a while and so I know how rough those shows can be sometimes.

    As far as needing to call other shops... I'd be happy to chat about maybe being able to carry your soaps. :) I'd actually begun looking into it before Christmas, but wanted to deal with local folks. I have a used bookstore... but I always rather thought that soap, coffee, and books could go together for a lovely "pamper yourself" kit. ;)

  2. Becky,

    I will have a look at your site and will be in contact with you. Super!

    When you did the craft show circuit, what were you vending?

  3. Anonymous2:21 PM


    We made beaded jewelry (as many, many of the folks seem to do at the fairs). Did that for 2-3 years in the Fort Collins/Northern CO area and managed to do well enough that it was paying for itself at least.

    I forgot to mention, also... I'd be more than happy to have you come in for a day to sell a wide assortment of your soaps. No booth fees or anything--just the risk of it being a slower day. I have authors come in and I've chatted with some gals who do jewelry, but nothing has come into fruition yet.

    Anyways! Look forward to chatting more. :D

  4. Becky,

    I just emailed you, but it bounced back to me saying your email box was full. Any ideas?