17 August 2015

First Craft Bazaar

(Yes I on purposely wanted to give you the big spoiler first thing in this post.)

Well I'm not that upset anymore, so let me tell you the story, and what I've learned from it.

There was Indonesia's independence day celebration held on last Saturday here in Singapore (the actual national day should be today, August 17th. But the organizer chose the nearest weekend which is on Saturday August 15th.)
It's an annual event organized by our Indonesian community here, mainly to celebrate the independence day with various traditional games usually played back in Indonesia.
It has a parade for children wearing traditional dresses or red & white themed clothings, hanging "kerupuk"/crackers eating contest, marble race, sack race, tug of war, and so on.

This year they added a new face to the event. They set up a small bazaar. They have preloved books freecycling, face painting, craft demo, and also a booth selling handmade items.

I knew about the bazaar two weeks ago when a fellow crafter friend mentioned it in our chat group. She said the organizer would invite whoever interested to sell their handmade items in the bazaar.

And I thought, why not! I've never sold any of my items in public. As a matter of fact, nope, I never sold any of them*, and I never declare publicly anywhere that I'm accepting custom order or anything (*Except the mango cushion which was a custom order from a friend, because she knew I can sew).
Back to the bazaar news, so yes of course I'm VERY interested to do that.

There was one thing I'm hesitant about.

They specified that all items to be sold at a fixed price of $7.00 each, to conform with the theme of 70th year of Indonesia's independence day.

No matter how many articles I've read about pricing in handmade world, it still seem very vague to me. What if I charge too high, or too low? Will people wanna buy? What kind of things I can make to match that price point?

So the following one week I spent on thinking and finding ideas on what small items I can sew.
There was one day I met up with my patchwork class friends, and our lovely teacher taught us how to make a simple drawstring backpack.

At home I tried making it, but somehow it came out too small so I gave it to Afa. But then I thought I can't sell adult size drawstring backpack for $7 because it required quite a long rope and the rope itself would easily cost around $3 and I have not put the fabric into account.

After a week long browsing thru Pinterest and google search, I decided to try making triangular zipper pouch. I made the first two and it took me almost two hours to finish! Ok, I thought, perhaps it'd be faster as I make more of them.

Then I decided to make some fabric bookmarks with elastic band. This one was a lot faster. So I thought might as well throw in these bookmarks too to balance things up.

Well, life got in the way in between, so on one day I could only *choose* what fabric to use, then another day started cutting, and another day continuing cutting, and all little-bit-here-and-there sewing progressed.

In the last two days I panicked. I only had 2 pouches and 4 bookmarks done, and I planned to make 15 pouches and 10 bookmarks.

On the last day I still need to bring my younger daughter to polyclinic for her injection. Then I still need to buy some plastic wrapper for the packaging, and I totally forgot about the gift exchange for the day itself! So I bought some things for the gifts too.

That friday evening I told my husband that I really really need to finish my work so I need his help to babysit the kids while they're still not asleep yet.

I did not sleep at all, except the one hour plus while I nursed the young one to sleep.
I made multiple pouches production-line style. Meaning I already cut all of them into pieces, then I sew the zipper on all, then sew the sides on all, and finishing them.

Eventually I managed to make 14 triangular pouches! (And still 4 bookmarks only) Yay! I was very proud of myself!

Yes I supposed to have another breakfast cum farewell gathering on that day, and I came late (because I still need to finish those pouches!). No time to put each of them in the plastic wrapper, no time for making a hang tag with my brand and name. So I snatched all the wrapper, blank cards for name tag, cotton rope, hole puncher, and scissors into my bag.
While waiting for the cab to come, I took one final photo shot on them. And off we go.

After the breakfast gathering I went straight to the bazaar. The lady in charge, which is also a dear friend of mine, showed me the table for the craft booth and let me arrange my things there.

There are quite a lot of items already. A lot means, the table was pretty packed. Other zipper pouches were lined back to back in a row inside some cardboxes. People would need to pull them out to be able to see it better.

I feel like my things seem lost in it. Because they're arranged in a small space, and because apparently almost other items are bigger in size then mine. I didn't feel good but anyway, what's done is done so let's just enjoy the rest of the event.

At the end of the day when I came back to the booth, I counted what left from my things.
It means I sold one. Only.

A lady came besides me and took a drawstring sling bag on the table. "Look! So cute!" It might be a simple drawstring bag with an added strap, but it has a bold, prominent ballerina prints on the fabric.
Then I knew another thing I learned.

So here it is, the things I have learned from my first craft bazaar:

1. Plan EARLY, do not cramp too many things in the last minute.
Making stocks in multiplies is different from making one single item. Your cutting may not be always straight, the thread stuck, not enough zipper, you forgot to put the label on, you need to unpick, some corner was not sewn shut, your kid throwing all the thread spools out of the box,...

2. Use whatever supplies you have on hand first. Remember, any supplies laying in your studio means cash laying on your studio. Better get them out as much as possible, convert them to real cash.

3. This one might be better put on top of the list, but I still don't really have the skills to gauge this.
Read your audience. What they might want to buy.
On my case, I think since everything is $7, it's kind of expected that most people would choose to get "more", the best bang for the bucks. Among two items with similar form or functionality, they might choose the bigger one.

4. If it has a fixed price point, here are some things to consider when deciding item to make;
a. Can you cover the cost of batting/interfacing?
If not, choose thicker fabric, or cheap flannel fabric can also be used, or choose a project which does not really require to hold things up. I think a rice sack can also be used in substitute of a stiffer interfacing. A friend of mine used a rice sack as the bag lining, or the bag outer.
b. Can you cover hardware?
Zipper, hook, clasp, D ring, etc could be costly. Less expensive closure option could be drawstring, small magnetic button (depending on quality), snap button, sew on button with fabric loop / thread loop.
c. Things in rectangular form is faster to cut and faster to sew, compared to anything with curve. Use rotary cutter and cut multiple layers once.

5. Choose neutral colored thread.
This is so that you can use across all kind of fabrics that you choose for the project. It's taking too long if you still need to keep changing to different thread color in between.

6. Zipper is taking longer than you (*I*) think!
The layers of fabric might shift, the corner might be too tight to stitch, etc.

7. Any add on embellishment means extra time and extra care on placement required.
For example if you have a sew-on label, a ribbon, a strap, you have to pay attention when to put them and in what sequence each thing should be placed. Because usually when you need to turn it right side out, it would matter which one will be in front and at the back, or which one will be on the left or on the right.

8. Think of how you want to display your item.
I feel that plastic wrap is great for a flat objects, such as folded bags, or flat zipper pouch. But, for things which has dimension to it, such as the triangular pouch, it does not look very appealing to people to buy if the pouch is put flat inside the plastic wrap.
So perhaps you may want to display them without wrapping, or having 1 or 2 without wrap, and the rest can be wrapped and arranged near the sample.

9. Nicely printed hang tag really make a difference.
Decorate with washi tape, put a hole at the corner, and hang it to the item with a jute rope for a more natural appearance.
Hang tag may contain your brand name, perhaps your name, your social media handles (where people can contact you), and maybe a description of your item.

10. Fabric/materials matters.
I think even if it is a simple item like napkins, if it featured a unique prints, it attracts people.
Yes style preference is very personal, but I think I understand why yesterday more people like the ballerina, London buses, bold big floral better than symmetrical small flowers prints, or small chevron prints for example.

11. But no matter how bad it was, getting myself -or my creations- out there, is one step forward to me. WELL DONE, me! ;)

That's all!
Sorry it's a long post. So I hope this is helpful if you want to try to sell on a craft bazaar.
And yes I would still want to participate on any more bazaar in the future!

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