I hope you don't mind but I thought that some of you might be interested in why and how I hosted an open studio at home. For years I have been dreaming about having an exhibition(ey) sale of everything I make each year. But, as each year has passed, the thought of organising venues with subsequent overheads and marketing needs, has overwhelmed me. Even market stalls have been difficult to do as Jonno works most weekends and the boys are so tuckered out by Saturday that anything extra would be too much for the family. Also, when I have done a stall, I've found it to be a little demoralizing with everybody searching for the bargains that are just not possible with handcrafted goods.
So the idea cropped up one day when having a cup of tea with a two friends... why not set up everything at home for interested people over a short, sharp period of time. Not only would there be good things to buy, but they could also have a little nosey around the house too... I LOVE looking around other people's houses...
I am extremely lucky because I do have a lovely, light filled studio however, this is not essential!!!
And so, here are a few tips on how I went about it.
- Use word of mouth, technology and friends! I used my blog, facebook and emailed all of my friends. I then printed out posters for local schools and also put a notice in our school newsletter.
-If possible, join forces with a friend. This was the best thing that I did - I am so lucky that my neighbour is sooooo talented. By doing this, pressure was taken away from me having to make over a million things. We both made very different things for the sale and that meant that there was a much wider variety of products. By sharing the event, we also widened our customer base.
-Choose dates carefully. Obviously before Christmas is the best time, but other considerations also come in to play. We had to make our sale before December 3rd as that is the final date for posting overseas ensure gifts will arrive before Christmas day.
-Have an opening night. We opened the first night from 6.30pm - 9pm which was a great success with everyone wanting to get in for first pick. In fact, we had quite a few people turn up earlier so shower early to avoid being taken by surprise (true story).
-Set up in at least two rooms. Using as many rooms as possible worked really well for us as it made it a much more personal and interesting experience. It was also a good way of showing how our crafts looked in their natural environment.
-Treat it like an exhibition. Not everything has to be for sale. I have been working on the Stanley House for the past couple of years (you will see more of it next year) and had it on display. Next to it I had Christmas Stanley house cards for sale which I had printed here. The cards were also great as they were an inexpensive purchase so there was something available for every budget.
The Stanley House.
Some of Dominique's jewelry.
Take time with displays. Make your displays a visual feast. I used cake stands and my favourite plates and bowls to display goodies upon. We also had vases of roses and sweet peas which filled the house with their fragrance. I have to say that the house never looked better.
Don't be afraid to hide your washing behind your bed. Not every room has to be on display. I only just kept on top of the washing and ended up with a sweet smelling mountain of clean laundrey hidden in my bedroom. It is okay to shut some doors.
Provide drinks and nibbles. On our opening night Dominique made up two batches of punch, one with alcohol and one without. That way we could give out complimentary drinks without spending a fortune. We also had a table with snacks such as grapes, meringues, brandy balls and chips and dip. This made it much more like a party and something that people will hopefully look forward to attending again next year. On the two following mornings we had non-alcaholic punch, tea, coffee and baking available.
Price everything clearly. This is really important and stops people from trying to buy your grandmother's urn (not a true story).
Be confident in your handmade goods and price accordingly.
Clearly state your times in the information you hand out.
Keep track of all purchases in a book.... and always use a calculator. We recorded all sales and items in our book which is a great record as we can now see what the most popular products were.
Have a float. I went to the bank and took out $100 worth of change.
Have fun! On the whole, I treated it a little like a party where we celebrated craft (and people gave me money - a great theme when you think about it). Next year I think we will also run some short little crafting sessions to make it even more irresistible.....
I hope I haven't bored you too much or been too much of an expert. I just think in this economy it is such a great way to go and there are so many of us out there that cannot afford to sell our goods on to retail shops or have time to sell online or do markets. For me, this was a very effective and fun way to earn some extremely timely pocket money before Christmas.
If you have any questions, please leave a message in the comment section.
Lots of love,