To you, from me: packaging made pretty

In preparation for my first upcoming craft show and in planning my future Etsy shop, I have been spending time considering packaging and branding. Part of the branding work has been done for me with the logo design that my hubby came up with. The logo has given me more than just an image to use on packaging, labels, and banners. It has determined a colour scheme and aesthetic to use going forward with my business.

Wanting to stay on track with keeping things simple, I had to force myself to make “Must Have” and “Would Like To Have” lists for approaching packaging and branding. I’ve poked around online to find inspiration and guidance and included a list of helpful links below. For now, I have resolved a couple of “Must Have” items, while keeping in mind how I can gradually reach the “Like To Have” items.

First off, I figured the simplest solution to tagging my items for the craft sale, would be to use the business cards (which I already have), as hang tags. I purchased a package of adhesive labels to stick on the back of the business cards so that I could include content and care information. There are super easy and free online templates to use in conjunction with the adhesive labels, so that layout and printing is a no-brainer. Then I figured I could just hole punch the business card and use a scrap piece of yarn to tie onto each scarflette. Viola! Hang tags!

Materials for branding shopping bagsThe second item could be argued as a “Like To Have”, but in all the back and forth conversations I had with myself, I did indeed “Need” to have bags for the craft sale. There is plenty to be said for people using their own re-usable shopping bags, which I try to do as often as I can remember. However, applying my retail expertise to the situation, I want to ensure a pleasant shopping experience which includes being able to offer a customer a bag. If they have their own, then great! If not, then I want to be able to provide one to them. Since I can’t feasibly purchase or make cloth bags for customers to re-use at this time (it’s on the “Like To Have” list), I made a compromise. I ordered sturdy kraft paper bags with twisted handles. I considered getting black bags to go with my branding colour theme, but found them to be more money than I could justify. As it turns out, the brown kraft paper has provided a solution to branding my bags because now I can simply stamp them with my logo (which would not have shown up on the black). I hope to order stickers very soon, which I can then use on the bags and elsewhere, but that won’t happen in time for the craft show. So now, I guess I have a stamp I need to make. Fun!

The third item that I have been trying to resolve, is packaging items sold through my Etsy shop. I’ve been under slightly less pressure with this one, since I haven’t even officially opened my shop. Also, this is probably one area that will grow and evolve as my crafty business grows. All I know for certain, is that I don’t want to just cram items into mailers or boxes and send them on their way. I used to work at a shop that also did international mail orders, and one thing that always sticks in my mind is the desire to have orders be like gifts. So the simplest solution that I have devised for now is to fold black tissue paper around items and use a sticker with the company logo to secure it. Hence, needing to order the stickers sooner rather than later. Looking at all the incredibly creative ideas for packaging, leaves me wanting to offer so much more to customers. I take a deep breath and remind myself that I can’t do it all in one swoop. When I am able, I will get there. Wishing you good luck with all your own branding challenges!

Here are some lovely thoughts on and ideas for packaging:

How will my booth grow?

Buttons on scarfletteThe first step to prepping for a craft fair (assuming that you have already submitted an application) seems to be pretty obvious; make stuff! I do this on a regular basis anyway, but I picked a couple of items to focus on, stocked up on materials, and ramped up my crafting.

The second step, for me, has been to read, research, brainstorm, and daydream. I’m realizing that there are a bunch of factors to consider when designing a craft booth/table. Of course, you have to decide the most attractive way to display your handmade items so that people are not only drawn to your space, but can also readily see what your items are and how to use them. In my case, I’ve decided to focus on crochet scarflettes, which I am making in a rainbow of colours. Folded up, it’s hard to tell what they are and when they aren’t being worn they seem like an odd shape. First solution to this display challenge, I will make sure to wear one of my scarflettes at the show (duh). Second solution, I will include a couple of pretty framed photos of the scarflettes being worn by others. Third solution… not sure yet. I’m debating about bringing my dress-form along to put a scarflette on display. I know for sure that one element I want to play up is the colourful rainbow, so I will continue to brainstorm the best way to do this.

Okay, so besides keeping in mind the actual items that will need displaying, I’m also trying determine a general “feel” for my crafty business. Not just for craft shows, but for my online shop too. Have I mentioned that I am FINALLY getting an Etsy shop set-up too? Well, now you know. It’s all very much “in progress”, but I will make sure to share more about it here when it is closer to completion. So, right, back to brainstorming crafty business “themes”. I am starting to keep a notebook in my purse that I can whip out whenever I have an idea or see an intriguing store display. I am also trolling the internet for inspiration. Here are a bunch of links that I’ve found helpful in learning about what to keep in mind for craft shows, including craft booth/table ideas:

Preparing for your arts and crafts shows
Prepping for your next art & craft fair
13 Craft Show Display Do’s
Fair game: how to maximize your craft fair profit
Craft fair tips and lessons learned
How to set up a craft booth that customers can’t resist
Craft show suggestions/table setup
Show me your booths
Arts & crafts fairs & shows

Hope that helps any of you who might also be getting ready for a craft show! For now, my own check-list is growing each day. Not too much getting marked “done”, but plenty of brainstorming happening.

Looking at all the lovely booth pictures on Flickr, I find that I need to remind myself of one very important thing, keep it simple. Let me write that again, just for good measure. Keep it simple. As much as I daydream about a beautiful craft table, the last thing I want to do is become too overwhelmed, trying to develop everything (off and online) for my crafty business while working a non-crafty full-time job. Yes, a craft table needs to be appealing and represent your handmade product as best it can, but I think it is also something that I can grow over time. So for my first craft show I want to keep it simple, especially since I will be sharing the space with a friend. The reading, learning, and inspiration continues though, and I am eager to apply all of that in the near future.