I’ve written this blog post ‘Clever props and styling tips to make your craft fair booth stand out’ after being asked by so many people about displays. Even if you haven’t anything to sell or promote, this article will give you lots of inspirations for displays in your home too.
When a stall is competing for attention at a craft fair and when your specifically selected and painstakingly hand crafted examples of practiced skill and creativity are waiting to be admired, chosen and taken to a loving home, it is important to ensure that the products are the stars of the show.
It was Chanel who suggested that a woman should get ready, stand in front of a mirror and remove one accessory before leaving the house. The essential advice being that ‘less is more’ and the same is true of the art of visual merchandising.
A great idea is a custom made wardrobe which can be transported to a fair and it’s ready for action as soon as you’ve opened the doors
It is not necessary to have everything on display all at once. Having too much to look at can become less of a feast for the eyes and more of a confusing overdose, which detracts from the features and qualities of each individual item. Extra product can be concealed under fabric-draped tables or safely hidden elsewhere so that each item is allowed its own place in the spotlight. Dependant upon the products, some can even be presented in boxes on the floor below the main, more accessible display.
If you’re mixing colour do it in blocks
Grouping similar items together and creating sections of colour coordination is key to making a cohesive visual impact. It only takes a second or two for eyes to advise the brain to keep walking or to take a closer look and clever styling will draw people in and allow items to be easily seen and, more importantly, be presented at their best.
Colour Order works well and is easy on the eye especially in cramped spaces. Ribbons by Jane Means
Today, your products are also going to become the photo shoot models of virtually every camera and phone that flashes by your stall. You are suddenly selling to people who are not even attending that particular event as each picture could Facebook and Instagram its way across the globe and your small craft fair stall has suddenly become the unassuming platform of your worldwide advertising campaign. Every vista of your visual merchandising counts.
Image courtesy of GoodSamShow
Items are generally, extensively displayed on tables, which means table cloths or lengths of fabric are required. Select beautiful fabrics such as black crushed velvet, crisp white tablecloths or a fabric colour that really compliments your products in a way that makes them stand out. A vital tip is to ensure your table covering is spotless and creaseless and, perhaps, have a spare on hand just in case of unforeseen accidents.
Image courtesy of Aroka Weddings
Tearing of your stall is a great way to optimize the amount of product and the clarity with which it can be seen. Boxes can be built up and concealed under table coverings or display props can be used. Creating height at the back of your stall makes your presentation area appear bigger and, remember, the aim of the game is to create a perfect picture, illustrating your product from a few metres away, so keep stepping back and admiring your merchandising until it looks just right.
Watering Can by Clifton Nurseries
Creating a focal point such as this turquoise watering can will catch the eye and draw people in. A sense of spectacle and drama is not to be under-estimated but one main focal point is more dramatic than throwing on everything you think is wonderful for impressive effect. Your focal point may feature your star products framed by a stunning free-hanging, picture frame, suspended from the stall roof or it may be a customized prop that has been styled to suit your theme perfectly. I love to use cake stands
Small stand – Great for highlighting your favourite products
Props need not be expensive and can be as random and quirky as your sense of styling allows. I recently purchased an old but beautiful bureau from ebay for ten pounds but a weekend of sanding, sweating and painting later and it was a terrific, turquoise display fixture for stationery items and the perfect focal point for my pop up shop in London at Clifton Nurseries.
Tall, wooden stools, antique tables, free standing or stepped shelving and upcycled old chairs hung on walls as shelves, make great merchandising furniture and old copper kettles, elegant cake stands, antique typewriters, painted bird cages, vibrantly coloured watering cans, large candlestick stands and artist’s easels are examples of random, beautiful objects that may just enhance a theme by their strategically placed presence. I love these painted apple crates
Image courtesy of Pinterest
Do not forget the backdrop of your stall. Plastic sheeting of a blue and white, stripy nature may be what the stall was supplied with but consider the scenery of your stage setting. Clip on fabric, tape up wallpaper or use an opaque plastic sheet of appropriate colour. Every inch of your selling space should be considered, designed and intentionally presented. Space is expensive. Use it to maximum impact but remember, ‘less is more’ and, if something does not add to the show, then it takes away and it should probably be removed.
I’ve also utilised crates under the table so it acts as display as well as storage. I’ve also made a ribbon curtain to hang on the wall as a feature
Remember, people will look with their hands as well as their eyes. Although people are just being enthusiastic and probably just can’t keep their hands from the textures and fabrics, etc, (we all do it!) it is our own responsibility to keep our stage set spotless. Maintenance of the area should be constant as photographs certainly will be. Nobody wishes to enter an untidy stand or would be tempted towards a messy stall when the one next door is looking stunning so, paying attention to house keeping detail is a vital piece of advice.
Keep your display neat and tidy
One of the most important fixtures of your stall has not yet been mentioned and this is you! You are the key to selling your products, ideas and inspirations. Always be friendly and approachable. This is your stage so wear a smile. Eating and spending time on your phone are not ideal or appealing things to do in this, your professional place of work so save that for an allocated break time when you can step away from your stall.
Your stall is also a good place to inspire potential customers and to show them just how beautiful, versatile and useful your products are. Giving demonstrations is also the perfect way to engage people’s attention and keep them at your stall. Remember, there will be equally interesting stalls or booths beside yours but the clever trick is to make yours stand out and look like ‘this is the place to be’. Drawing a small crowd with a demonstration is always a good idea and this can be done at several times during the day.
Gone are the days for me when I’d head to a village hall and throw a tablecloth to see my wares. With the birth of social media I’m now aware that many shoppers are taking photos of my stand and it’s a great way to get keen instagrammers to snap away and highlight your products and hard work. Soft lighting and props are always eyecatching
Leather Journal by Hope House Press
Our Haberdashery Closet in Lincoln full to the brim with ribbons and we use baskets, crates, terracotta pots, planters. I also bought a gorgeous pine sideboard off Ebay seen here
Inject humour to make your customers smile
Use quirky props. Tea cups are good for small items
You could add flowers even if they’re fake
Finally here’s some more tips…
Always look friendly and approachable
Try and look slightly busy or demonstrate your craft so you don’t appear too intimidating
Never eat or be on your phone – take a break to do this
Ensure table cloths are washed and ironed
Wallpaper makes a great back drop in a booth. Just use Masking tape
On a final note, we’ll be at a few shows this year including Burghley Horse Trials, Handmade Fair, Spirit of Christmas, and Country Living Fair, London. Do pop and say hello to us if you’re there, we’d love to see you.