First Trade Show

Okay, so 2018 I had a goal. I wanted to do a trade show — and not just any trade show — The Woodlands Junior League Holiday Market. This market consistent of over 45 vendors, lasting 3 nights and 4 days. It’s Christmas lights, clothing, handmade soups, ma and pa leather and sign businesses, etc.

Knowing I had to prepare for the show, I did a small test run. I registered for Arts in the Park in The Woodlands — a Shakespeare-themed event over Halloween weekend. I did my research (aka Pinterest) and started brainstorming how to display my work in a 10 x 10 tent. Here is what I learned.

Arts in the Park

You have to work with what is provided. I had a 10 x 10 tent and a table provided. I saw on Pinterest that you could use a peg board as a backdrop — and it actually worked really well. Just needed the peg board, zip-ties and the peg board hooks (or however you want to hang up your work).

So here are some helpful tips for anyone interested in doing an outdoor booth. Package and label everything — it will be be really helpful for set up. Also keep track of inventory and price your items. I also placed these description cards (with prices), so if I was busy talking with another customer, somebody else wasn’t being ignored.

I brought table clothes and other small decor to go along with my brand and the Shakespeare theme. And because it was Halloween weekend, I added a candy bowl for any trick-or-treaters.

Junior League Holiday Market

This show was a little different. The Woodlands Junior League Holiday Market is 4 days long — 4 DAYS! That’s a lot of planning and a lot of inventory. So after Arts in the Park, I got working. More cards, signs, blanket ladders — just more.

The set up was a lot different this go around. They provide the space and a table, but no outdoor tent. For this my parents and husband built a portable wall — 2 walls and benches. The benches were perfect to not only support the walls, but to display some of the merchandise too.

So I (with a lot of helpers), stuffed cards, sanded blanket ladders, packed up Christmas decor and set up the booth.

I learned a lot over those few days. Make sure you have enough inventory, bring a couple changers (if not for your phone, then for your customers), bring snacks and gum, take photos of your work and with your customers (with permission, of course), and reorganize your workspace as the hours go on (if I realized some cards weren't being seen very well or thought a different sign would be better somewhere else, feel free to rearrange your space).

All in all, it was such a great experience! I learned how to price my work (and use a Square) — having enough cash and some kind of payment plan is crucial. I also learned to talk to a lot of people — but not just day-to-day talk — but about my work. Besides an interview or first introductions, you never really learn or practice how to talk up your work. But when people start complementing your work or asking about your process, it started to become very natural.