Q. I was reading your website and getting lots of valuable information, but I have a couple of questions which I really need advice on. I am just starting out in the craft fair business and share a booth to keep down costs. However, there are a few issues that I can’t find any solution to. For instance, how should we go about using signage for our booth? A lot of fairs insist you have a sign of some description, but as we are essentially two different businesses, we have two different store names. Do we display each name on a different sign? Or, do we come up with an entirely new name incorporating both our store names? My partner (who is related to me) wants to use her name since it is more generic (we sell very different things), but I am opposed to that since it is her branding and not mine that will get all of the advertising. Do you have any suggestions?
A. I do, and I totally agree that you always want to protect and promote your own products and brand. First, you need to be clear with the promoter of each show that when sharing a booth each participant is allowed to promote their identity. Assuming that is the case, you’ll want to have a sign that incorporates your logo and any colors you use in your printed materials. You would want your items to carry tags that clearly identify the work as yours.
Setting up the booth will present some challenges. If you each have signage that relates to the tags on the work you could display your work together and work the booth as a whole together. The tight graphics will help the customer identify the maker. On the other hand, you could divide the booth. Perhaps you each take a side, hang your signs on the side walls and create your displays beneath it and each work your own space. This is the clearest way to promote your work and brand. The back wall could be used to hang large pieces or photos of your work or studio shots designed to bring in customers.
Speaking of brand, you must always be mindful that everything you do reflects on your brand. The printed materials you use, the way you display your work, the clothes you wear, the way you interact with customers, and the company you keep all reflect either positively or negatively on your brand. In this case, you have already begun a relationship with another craftsperson whose work you respect. As you go forward, always be mindful that your work will be impacted by the work around it; therefore, be sure to choose booth mates whose work will enhance the customer’s impressions about your products.
Donald Clark is the author of Making a Living in Crafts and was a partner in Ferrin Gallery for 25 years. In addition to writing, he is currently a consultant to artists, a personal property appraiser, and a collection manager. He also continues to create his constructions that have been shown extensively and collected internationally.