planning

How to Plan a Craft Show

Have you ever wondered what happens between, “Hey, let's put together a craft show and call it the Spring Bash!” and “Whew, the Spring Bash is behind us now and I need a nap…”

The Etsy Dallas Bashes are a labor of love for all of us, so we thought it would be interesting to give you a glimpse of what goes into a show like the Spring Bash.

A line of shoppers wraps around Gilley's Dallas before doors open for the  2018 Spring Bash . The first shoppers arrived at 7 a.m. to wait in line for the event that started at 10:30 a.m. on May 5, 2018. Photos courtesy of  Mirrorless Mind Studio  for Etsy Dallas. 

A line of shoppers wraps around Gilley's Dallas before doors open for the 2018 Spring Bash. The first shoppers arrived at 7 a.m. to wait in line for the event that started at 10:30 a.m. on May 5, 2018. Photos courtesy of Mirrorless Mind Studio for Etsy Dallas. 

Let’s start by picking a date and a venue.

Venues book up way in advance, so in November as we prep for Jingle Bash, we have already been planning Spring Bash. We usually know where we want to be and when we want to do the show. Oh, but wait, Gilley’s isn’t available both dates we want (we need to book two days so we can set up), and the weekend before/after is Earth Day, Mother’s Day, or the same day as some other show that many of our vendors may want to do. Or, as happened with our 2018 Spring Bash, the NRA Convention came to town and POTUS would be coming in to speak. What would that do to traffic? You can't plan for everything!

After some back-and-forth about the venue and dates, we make a decision and put down our deposit. At this point it's time to start cheering. Yay! We can start telling people to save the date!

Shortly after the holidays, people start asking when the applications are going to come out for Spring Bash. Before we can put out the call for vendors, we need a rough budget. Yeah, Bash prep involves a fair amount of administration, accounting, and budgeting.

The budget looks something like this:

Cost of Bash $$$$$ = Venue $$$$$ + Ads $$$$ + Bash Bags $$$ + T-shirts $$$ + Lighting $$$$ + Printing $$$ + Marketing $$$ + Photographer $$$ + Deco $$$

Next we’ll see if we can get some sponsors lined up to offset some of the costs. Big Etsy sometimes sponsors the Jingle Bash, but we are on our own for Spring Bash. This is the time where we hit up our day jobs, friends, former sponsors, and anyone else who might want to sponsor the Bash.

The next question is, “Will that many vendors fit in our venue?” After some measuring and mock layouts, we're good to go. 

Time to get some vendors.
We update the dates and info on the online application and make them live on the website. Applications come (hopefully) flooding in. Yay! But we can only take about 80 vendors and there are so many good ones to choose from. Boo!

It’s time to jury. Out of ~150 applications, we have to narrow it down to ~80. On top of that, we have to make sure there’s a good mix of product categories. Jewelry and home goods are 40% of the applications, so we have to make sure we have the right number of each category and that the one’s we pick are different enough from each other to make sure there is variety within the category as well. We just can't fit all the good shops in.

After a long day of deliberation, we get the vendors down to ~80 and now we need to see how many 10x10s and 8x6s are on our list. There are always more 10x10s requested than we can fit in our venue. A lot more. So we have to review all the vendors who requested 10x10 booths and narrow that down to the ~30 available 10x10 spots (imagine furniture vs jewelry type discussions). We’ve narrowed it down and have the final vendor list with the appropriate number of 10x10 booths. We celebrate with a glass of wine!

More administrative stuff happens.
During the next month or two we send and receive lots of emails about the Bash. Things like we need your logos, don’t forget to pay your invoice, remember to send your Bash Bag goodies in time, no really, we still need your logo, and so on.

We are also updating the Etsy Dallas website to add vendor and sponsor info and promote the Bash and deciding when Deco Party is and what we are going to make. Did I mention that we all have Etsy shops, children, and/or day jobs too… It’s ok, we can sleep again after the Bash.

Time to get the food trucks lined up. What about coffee… that's right, we can't serve food or drinks inside because it's Gilleys. But we can have donuts, right? Yep! Mmm donuts…

There’s also a lot of marketing collateral and graphics to create now. Every ad website wants a different size graphic. Plus flyers, postcards, Bash Bag art, t-shirt art, Facebook frames, Snapchat filters, sharable images for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., parking passes, Bash Bucks, banners, maps, and more.

Whew…

Where's my booth?
If you have ever planned a wedding reception where your aunt Jo can't sit next to your Aunt Jane, your friend can't sit next to your other friend because she stole her boyfriend in high school, and this side of the family can't be in the same side of the room at the other side of the family because of that thing Uncle Bob did in '82, then you know what planning the Bash booth layout is like. Except instead of family, it's product categories.

We work hard to keep like products away from each other in the booth layout. This is harder than it sounds because we have to consider the booth sizes and products, then sometimes shops drop out, but the next shop on the waiting list sells the same product category as the booth next to the one that dropped, so now a couple people have to move around to make it work.

The day before. It's almost here!
We made it through all the planning and now we are just 1 day from the Bash. Woohoo? We show up the morning the day before and… umm, was that column there in the floor plans? Wasn't this a door last year? Welcome to the chalk game we call booth marking.

Ok, we got this. Move this booth here and those a few feet to the right, a couple more moves and we're good to go. Booths marked, signage up. We have 12 hours before Bash day load in. We are so ahead of schedule.

We always have our vendors come out for a group photo before the doors open. 

Bash Day! Bash Yay!
Back to the venue bright and early. I know it seems like we are yelling, "Unload on the curb and move your car" a lot, but we have to keep this traffic flow going. We've got to get about 30 shops an hour to load in. About 6 cars line up on the curb at Gilley's, that only gives us about 10 minutes per car.

By this time, the volunteers are running around, people are in line for the Bash Bags, and you can feel the excitement. It's time to have a great show!

Creative Small Business Goals for 2017 with Alexandra

My favorite thing about being a member of Etsy Dallas is growing and learning with other like minded creatives.  We are all in different places on our entrepreneurial journeys, and we learn what works and what doesn't, and support each other throughout.  Alexandra of Wandering Paper Co. is back with a follow-up to her last post with her goals for 2017.  I am so excited to see where her bright and minimal brand goes this year!

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A little while back, I wrote a recap of my 2016 small business goals, so this week it’s time to focus on 2017. I can’t wait to share my goals with you, but before I do, I’d like to ask for your help! In order to accomplish these goals, I need some honest feedback from the general public. I’ve created a short branding survey to help guide my decision making for Wandering this year. If you are willing to fill it out, I would be most grateful! Thank you in advance for giving a little bit of time to help make Wandering Paper Co. better. I couldn’t do this without you!

Okay, on to the goals. It’s taken me a while to write this post is because I’ve had such a hard time narrowing down my list of goals. There are so many things I want to do, but some of them are just going to have to wait until next year. After giving it a lot of thought, here’s my final list of goals for 2017:

SOLIDIFY BRAND

That's my new branding mood board up there! Now that WPC has a year under its belt, I’d like to thoroughly think through my storytelling and messaging, and build out a recognizable brand that my customers connect with. I put together this mood board to help guide the visual portion of branding, which includes color schemes, materials and textures, typography, and graphic elements. 

I also want to think through the way I choose to tell the Wandering Paper Co. story. This will mean thinking through a few key questions—namely, what sets Wandering Paper Co. apart, why has it been successful so far, and how does it connect with its audience on an emotional level? I’m excited to get started on this goal—stay tuned!

BUILD OUT WPC PINTEREST ACCOUNT

My goal with the WPC Pinterest is to showcase my work, but I also want to create a resource for other aspiring printmakers or creative business owners. The Pinterest page will provide solutions to common business questions and problems with links to helpful articles. It will also have lots of printmaking ‘how-to’ articles and inspiration. Plus, it will have boards dedicated to beautiful global décor examples and light-filled creative spaces to help us stay inspired and dream about the future. I really wish I'd had a resource like this when I was first starting out, so I can't wait to share it!

Follow us on Pinterest

THOROUGH SEO STUDY

This one's pretty simple. First, I will conduct a study of relevant search terms and keywords though Google Adwords and the results of my branding survey. Then I will optimize the WPC site for these terms with the goal of growing site traffic from Google searches. It's actually a really big undertaking, but it will be interesting to see how it affects site traffic!

EXPAND EXISTING PRINT SERIES

Create more prints in the City Streets series, City Skylines series, and Pattern print series to round out each collection. A few prints currently in the works are New Orleans, Austin, and a new Fort Worth print to match the Dallas one. I've also been experimenting with some floral patterns, which brings me to my next goal...

EXPERIMENT WITH NEW PRODUCTS

A few items I’m considering: tea towels, napkins, notebooks, and calendars, as well as a line of wedding invitations (hence the florals.) What kinds of items would you like to see? Tell me in the survey!

So, there you have it—my 2017 goals. I’d love to hear your thoughts about these, so if you’d like to help me out, my branding survey is here. Thank you all so, so much for participating and being part of the Wandering Paper Co. story. I can’t wait to get started on these goals and see what 2017 has in store—it is humbling and scary and exciting all at once. Here’s to 2017!