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A Juried craft fair is a carefully selected, high-quality, handmade only event. Most require potential sellers to send in an application that includes a detailed description of your products along with several clear photographs of your items, booth, and displays.
The higher-end craft fairs are nearly all juried to some extent. Some are more relaxed, and merely want photographs to ensure your products are indeed handmade by you and that you aren’t simply re-selling Chinese products from eBay etc.
Other craft fairs, and particularly art shows, are extremely rigorous in their selections. These are the fairs and festivals that feature only the best. You won’t find run of the mill craft items at these types of shows and many of them have long waiting lists and an exhaustive list of rules you must abide by. These shows are amazing for those who create art pieces and high-end, truly unique items.
Non-juried craft fairs that accept just anyone are often open to other vendors and mass distributors like Tupperware, Scentsy, Pampered Chef etc. These craft fairs are typically not the most profitable for handmade crafters since people are not really going there specifically to seek out handmade goods. That doesn’t mean you can’t do well with certain items, but for the most part, I advise crafters to avoid these types of events unless its well-established and something truly special.
How to Apply to Juried Craft Fairs
I recommend taking a day to set up your booth at home if you can. This gives you the opportunity to “stage” your items and take the best photographs. Another option is to photograph your booth right after you set up for an event, but before customers come through and start to touch and move items.
If you do it at home, you can relax, do retakes, even get some great shots of your individual products to list online too if you are so inclined.
Most events I apply for have a very straightforward application. They usually ask for 3 to 5 photographs of your items to be included along with a check for your space fee. If they reject you, they will return the check.
Some higher-end events do require a small application fee that is non-refundable. Always check with the event coordinator however and follow all the application rules to the letter.
As a promoter, nothing is more annoying than people who don’t take the time to read and carefully follow directions. Be careful to go through all information before asking questions. Most are answered on an events website or in the vendor contract etc. Do your homework, be polite in your inquiries and thorough in your application process.
Getting Accepted Into Juried Craft Fairs
Along with having great pictures of your set-up and following all application rules, you also need to have a cohesive look and feel to your business. You must present professionalism.
In this day and age, you need to have an online presence, whether it’s a website, a Facebook business page, etc. This needs to look nice and be regularly updated and maintained. This is part of your image. Even if you don’t sell a lot online, this is still a marketing tool that helps you establish trust and credibility in addition to new customers.
If you sell multiple types of products, that’s fine, but make sure they flow well together and that your branding is top-notch, so that it doesn’t look like a hodgepodge of random stuff strewn about. Most promoters don’t like “random” they want a cohesive look and feel to each display in their event.
Your displays and packaging should tie everything together nicely and present a strong image. That is what makes an impression on judges. Make good use of line, color, contrast, and texture. Ensure your displays complement your products, not detract.
If you can stick to a tight theme that’s great. The more specialized you are the better for many events.
I enjoy a variety of crafts, but for most I will focus on one type of item. For example some events I take my soap and bath products, for other events I take my handmade pet items etc. You can split your items up for different shows if necessary.
Also, keep in mind your prices. Fine art and craft fairs are expensive and time consuming. Yes, the return on investment is often higher, but not always. You’ll need to have enough items to cover the entry fee and turn a profit.