Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Urban Craft Uprising + tips for a good craft show experience as a non-vendor

Hurray! Finally got all the photos edited. It only took me two weeks....


Anyway. A few weekends ago I was delighted to attend the summer edition of Urban Craft Uprising. I have attended all but one of these events since the very beginning, and let me tell you, it's totally a great time.

I love to support fellow indie crafters, and the fact that it's a local event makes it even more fantastic.

Since I've gone a few times and since the event and vendors tend to stay fairly similar from show to show, I have a few "traditional" things I try to do each time I attend.

Number One: Get the bag of swag.
True story. The first 50 people who enter the show each day are guaranteed to get a free bag of merch and coupons donated from many of the vendors. It is always good value. And hey, you can use it as a shopping tote!


I tend to show up at a certain time (sorry folks, it's a trade secret) and hang out until they open the doors. I bring a book and a latte and I am good to go.

This year, the bag was particularly good. There was a spool of bright purple yarn from Yarina. An eyeliner pencil and some sweet orange foaming milk bath from Meme cosmetics. Some cute plaid buttons from Midori Fabrics.Detail scissors from Pacific Fabrics. A tape measure from Stitches. More coupons and business cards. You get the idea.


This is a photo of my total haul from this year. Let's talk about some of my other "traditions." See if you can spot them in this photo. ;)


Number two: do a lap before committing. 
I usually go through all the aisles to do a full reconnaissance sweep before I commit to the serious task of shopping.


This allows me to be a little bit more tactical and to plot out roughly where I think I might spend my dollars. This is not a good strategy when the craft fair is huge, however. In that case, hopefully you have been able to look through some sort of index or map while you were waiting in line.


Number three: shopping (and exploring)! 
This is the good part.

Here are some of the highlights from my adventures this year:



I have blogged previously about the super-adorable Tako Fibers and their cute little crewel embroidery kits. So for now, if you want more info, check out this post here. Definitely a great find. And you know, they did a demo class the day I went, but I totally missed out. Ah well.. Onto the next!



There were quite a few temptingly awesome jewelry designers this show. I particularly loved the vintage designs on the enamel lockets from Locket 2 You. And of course, I was very much drawn to the bottlecap jewelry (not my style to wear, but I love how it looks and it is so fun to make).

But it was finally at Fable & Fury that I was forced to make a purchase. See those rad looking crow earrings in that last photo? Yeah, I got a laser etched steel pendant (powder coated in black, of course) with that design. My inner goth would not let me leave without it. It just kind of makes me happy. (Birds, octopi and sea turtles are just irresistibly adorable to me)


I made my required purchases at Estrella Soaps. It is such a great deal for handmade super delicious smelling organic soap. I got grapefruit eucalyptus, ginger orange, pink lemonade, vanilla bean, and peppermint.  Yum.

During the holidays, I always get a bunch of these to add to gifts for my friends. But these ones are all mine.


And this is my super-shaky stealthy fangirl shot of the CakeSpy booth. Yes. It was a little stalker-ish.


One of the highlights for this year's show for me, was the abundance of letterpress vendors. Just beautiful. My favorites were Bison Press and Sycamore Street Press.

One of my favorite parts of the show is to just wander and be inspired. So many beautiful colors, textures, and ideas to discover. Revel in the craftiness!


Number four: take a break for lunch.
Some times you just gotta get away to clear your head, review your purchases, and ponder the things that you are on the fence about. I always take a break after an hour and a half or so and walk up to the Queen Anne Pagliacci's for a slice of pizza pie and a soda. Cheap, tasty, and right near a scrapbooking store (Monkey Love Rubber Stamps).


Self portraits by graffiti walls are mandatory.

This time around I was good with just the one go round at the craft fair...so since it was a lovely day I decided to walk around the Seattle Center and take some pictures. And then I ran into Bastille Day celebrations. But that's another post.

Anyway, just to recap, here are the things I recommend you do (in general) when attending a craft fair:

Show up early.
You get first pick at the goods, and also in this case, a swag bag. Also parking is typically easier to find.

Bring cash.
Not only will bringing the cold hard cash help you set a limit on your purchases, refrain from unnecessary craft-related impulse purchases (I know we've all been there) and avoid having to beg the artisan to "hold" your item 'till you get back, but it will also help to avoid any last minute ATM usage fees. Bring lots of small bills and coins and the vendors will love you.

Have an idea of what you are looking for.
Going to a craft fair can be very overwhelming. Having a battle plan in place will help you stay focused and will facilitate your enjoyment of the event. Ask yourself what you really want (or want to accomplish) while you are here. Are you there to get some serious visual inspiration? To see what the newest trends are? To take photos for your blog? To find gifts? To learn a new craft? To get supercute indie accessories? It's fine if your reasons are all, or none, of these things. But having a plan really helps you get the most satisfying result out of the experience.

Strike up a conversation.
These events are a great way to make new crafty friends, or to at least learn a little bit more about the person who put their effort and energy into their crafty items. One of the reasons I like arriving early (and also going on the last day of the show) is that you can meet some really cool people while hanging out in line. And also the vendors have a little bit more time and energy to chat with you before the brunch-time crazies start coming in.

Be respectful of the business aspect here.
I know I just mentioned that it is a good idea to strike up a conversation, but you also have to be respectful of the craftperson's business during these events. I speak from experience here, having bravely manned a booth a few times with the intent of selling my own craft items at events similar to these. While I can say for sure that these people are there and making stuff because they love it, they are also in it for the money. They are probably not there for 100% fun times. They are there at this event with the end goal of selling their stuff. And hopefully, they will. But there is nothing more frustrating for a craftsperson than having people come to your booth and jibber jabber and fondle your merchandise and take up space but then walk away with no purchase. When I go visiting at these events, if the booth is busy, I try to be unobtrusive and if I can't buy something, but love the vendor, I'll try and get a photo (and always ask for permission to take photos!) for the UCU Flickr Group or plug them on the old blog. It's the least I can do for my fellow crafters. And business cards are also good to collect.

Remember to take care of yourself.
Wear comfy shoes. Take a purse that has lots of room and will be comfortable to carry, or take your re-usable shopping bag. Bring a beverage or a water bottle with you so you stay hydrated and away from expensive vending machines and bad concessions (because you need to save your cash for the crafty goodness!). Snacks may be required for extended shopping sessions (though usually I will take a break for lunch and come back). And also, I've found that if you give yourself permission to splurge on at least one thing that you've absolutely fallen in love with- whether it's a handmade notebook, a crazy gothic bird necklace, or a piece of artisan toffee - you will feel very good about your adventure at the craft fair indeed.

So those are my "tips" and "traditions." Do you have any good ones for me?
I'd love to see them posted in the comments!

There will be more Urban Craft-y goodness this December (which isn't as far away as you think), when I recap the holiday show.

Next up: Bastille Day Celebrations, Seattle Center photo fun, and the story of how I acquired the Cutest Umbrella Ever.

9 comments:

Urban Craft Uprising said...

This is an amazingly fun and informative post and we are so lucky to have you as a fan! One correction: it's the first 100 each day for swag bags. See you in December!

Michelle said...

Dude. :) Rad post & tips! I'm wishing this fair came to Vancouver, now...:) It looks like sooo much fun! I'm all for the lapping-before-buying, but I can never get up early enough for the swag bags at shows here - lol. Will have to change that! Looks like fun was had!

tnt521 said...

Love your tips! And I hope to make the next one...I don't think I could have resisted that necklace either!

tammy t

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Melissa Mann said...

Wow! Great recap and tips!

Lindsay said...

Great tips! I wish I had a craft fair like that near my area!

Hope you're doing well!
-Lindsay

Serviced Apartments London Lady said...

Excellent tips, I want to get down to a few craft fairs this Summer!

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