In May I had the privilege to sell and showcase my artwork at the Paperdolls Market in Birmingham. Held at The Custard Factory in Digbeth, it’s a beautiful venue, all white and open plan making the room bright and airy, the perfect spot for a craft market. I thought it would be fun to share some of the behind the scenes photos. Read on to see how I prepared for the market and more of what went on during the development of the new products that I sold there.
This year vs last year
The first time I sold at the Paperdolls market was back in November for their Christmas event. My stall looked entirely different to this years arrangement. My artwork has changed a lot since last year and I’m using warmer brighter colours now compared to my previous white & pastel watercolour paintings.
Last year it was a whole new experience for us meeting lots of customers in person and having to create a display from scratch. By ‘us’ I mean Matt, he’s helped me set up and sell at the last two markets and has been so so helpful! I would definitely recommend bringing along someone to help you out, second opinions are always great and it also gives you a chance to look at everyone else’s stalls and meet people. Which I’m so glad I had the chance to do as I’ve met some wonderful artists & makers by doing so!
Check out some of these lovely Artist’s & Makers: Chloe Hall Illustration, Simona Illustrates , Connie From Lint & Thread & Emma Wright Jewellery Design.
If you’re about to do your own market and need some ideas or tips I’ve put a few suggestions at the bottom of this blog post and a little throughout that might help you be prepared for your own!
Designing the stall
Early on this year I drew up this little version of my stall to give me an idea of what the final set up could look like. I was pretty free with it as I didn’t know if my new products would be done in time but I found it was a good visual motivation to keep on creating. It helped me see what I already had and what I needed to make in order to fill up the stall.
Some venues don’t allow you to fix anything onto the walls so you have to be a bit creative with your display, I wanted to use a ladder to display the gift wrap as it would show the designs off and add height to my stall.
Last year I used two extendable curtain poles that stood in two home made wooden bases (courtesy of Matt’s handywork) either side of the table, Then strung a thick twine across to link them. I used that to hang fairy lights all around (it looked really great towards the end of the market as it was in winter and was pretty dark). Then hung my logo and some of the prints along the washing-line-like contraption I had set up.
This year I did something very similar but used the ladder as one end of the line instead.
last minute developments
The Cards and Painted Prints were a very last minute design ideas that I came up with whilst messing around with some old scrap paper. All completely unintentional and just me trying some new combinations turned into some of my favourite products I’ve made! I ended up up making a few variations all individually different.They were a huge hit at the market as we managed to sell all but two cards. I’ve now listed some Painted Prints in the shop along with new Birthday cards!
A new item for my shop that coincided with the market was tote bags!
They arrived the day before the market so I quickly designed printed, punched & assembled tags to tie on them describing its features. Like how it’s been made as an environmentally friendly product. I think that’s really important when ordering them as it is a reusable product intended for reducing waste so going with Awesome Merchandise was an excellent choice.
I’ve been using mine basically everyday since I’ve had them and they can hold so much. I love that they fold up super small inside other bags which is perfect if you’re out shopping!
I was so excited when the gift wrap arrived as it’s a pretty big product and I’ve been wanting to create a few different wrapping papers for a while. These couldn’t have turned our any better! I wrapped a couple of empty boxes as some test versions that served perfectly as props for the display to show as examples.
The ladder was perfect, not only helpful for displaying the gift wrap at the market it now acts as compact storage for all the stock tucked neatly behind the door to my office!
The gift wrap will be coming to the shop soon!
The night before
I took everything I wanted to display and anything I would need to use on the day into our living room to do a trial set up.
I like to use my own desk for markets as it comes apart easily, it’s an a good size and it fits my theme pretty well, which I like the look of more than a sheet covering the table.
Moving everything out of the office helps to not only see what I need to be packing into the car on the day but also how to arrange my products in a way that looks appealing! I also like to take a couple of photos of the final set up incase we need to refer to them on the day to make sure we’re not forgetting anything!
Market day - the final set up
The market on the day was a huge success, we sold a pretty good amount of stock! My favourite part about selling at markets is the feedback and customer interaction. Being an online shop you don’t get many chances to hear what people think of their purchases and the feedback is so helpful!
One person who came over to look at my stall said to Matt that my art was “Happy Art” Which I LOVED definitely something I want to associate with my work! Others really loved the cards, I had a few suggestions for different types like engagement cards or ‘new home’ cards too. And the compliments on the overall display was Wonderfull!
I’m hoping to attend more markets over the next year so i’ll make sure to keep you updated with when they’re happening! Tell me what you thought of my stall in the comments! And let me know if there’s any products you’d like to see stocked in my shop!
Jo & Carolyn (the wonderful People behind Paperdolls) arranged a show guide for this summer market. You can still purchase the ones they have left here to discover the other artist’s & makers who showcased their work at the market!
If you’re doing your own market
When I was looking for ideas for my market stall I had no idea where to start and what I even needed. So here’s a few suggestions that might be helpful.
A money belt, I got mine from a hiking store, much less expensive than buying a “money belt” Intended for markets. It’s also a lot smaller so you can keep all your change safely on you without worrying about misplacing it.
Card reader or app, not everyone has cash on them and it’s much quicker to take a card payment. You don’t have to sign up for a card reader subscription if you don’t do markets often or don’t own a physical shop. You can take payments through apps like Swipe on your phone that connect through your online shop. You can even email them a copy of the receipt and upload your product prices ready!
Reusable transportation, As my stall is my desk I didn’t have a covering for the table, and had to make sure my supplies and stock weren’t spilling out in front and user the stall. I used these white fold down boxes from Ikea to transport my stock and display items. They doubled up perfectly by turning them over, to raise the basket of gift wrap up to make it more visible. But by doing this I stored any tissue paper and boxes that were used to transport the stock safely inside these boxes.
Other things to think about for your stall:
Price points! What does everything cost?
How will you package sold items?
Does your stall reflect your brand? Do you have a Logo sign?
Will you need somewhere to sit?
How can you stand out compared to other stalls?
Can you have another small low price item as an “ad-on” to increase sales?
How are you going to transport everything to the market safely?
Do you have enough stock? if you sell out of something, will you have something to replace it with?