5 Craft Show Must Haves

5 Craft Show Must Haves

I’ve been doing my fair share of craft fairs for 10 years now, so I’ve learned a lot of tricks along the way. My craft show tool kit has evolved a lot over the years, and now there are a few handy items I can’t live without. Here are my top 5 craft show must haves.

1. A great tent!

If you’re planning to do outdoor art markets or festivals, a good tent is an absolute MUST! Many shows require everyone to have white tents, to keep things looking classy & uniform. My EZup canopy tent has lasted me through many years of craft shows, and it’s still going strong! I have the kind with four zippered side walls, which are great for closing up shop overnight or keeping out the elements on a rainy day.

2. A professional looking tablecloth!

After years of fussing with big pieces of fabric and homemade tablecloths, pinning and tucking just so to keep it looking nice, I made the move a few years back to fitted tablecloths. They’re so much easier, and they look super professional. They come in a variety of sizes to fit different lengths of folding tables. You could always screen-print or add appliqués to the front to customize it with your business name or logo!

3. A comfy & tall chair!
I spent years sitting on low chairs, uncomfortable stools or just standing during craft shows, to stay eye-level with my customers so I could talk to them. My tall fold-up director’s chair has been a lifesaver since then, and many of my craft show buddies have asked about it and picked up one for themselves!

4. Shopping bags or gift wrap!
You’ll definitely want to have some sort of shopping bags or gift wrap available! What size you need depends on what you sell, of course. I usually keep a few sizes on hand – small organza bags for jewelry and some bigger paper bags for larger items.

5. A convenient hand truck or dolly!
Finally, if you’ll be hauling all your stuff to and from your car or truck to your craft show booth, you’re going to want wheels! I cannot begin to tell you how much our Magliner convertible hand truck has changed my life! I don’t know how I could do Frenchmen Art Market without it – I can get everything I need on it in one trip and haul it a couple of blocks back to my car with ease. It’s pretty high end, so if you’re just getting started, I also use a smaller Magna Cart for shows where it’s easier to do multiple trips back and forth to my car.

Bonus points: Gridwall for displays
Many artists use gridwall panels to display their artwork. This type of setup works well for fine artists who have paintings or photographs to show off, but most gridwall systems have other accessories available like clip-on baskets or shelves or hanging racks, which can also show off clothing or accessories too.

Want more craft show tips & tricks? Check out my e-book, How to Make Money at Craft Shows – Art Market and Craft Fair Tips & Tricks.

New Orleans Mini Maker Faire 2014

the crowd at at New Orleans Mini Maker Faire

Yesterday was the very first New Orleans Maker Faire. If you’ve been following me for a very long time, you might remember that I had the chance to attend one of the original Maker Faires in San Mateo, California back in 2007, thanks to my win in Etsy’s Upcycle Contest. While yesterday’s event wasn’t quite the spectacle of a big Maker Faire, this “Mini” Maker Faire was a great first showing for NOLA makers. There were over 1,000 people in attendance, despite the rainy weather and the fact that there was so much else going on around town at the same time.

Noise Co at New Orleans Mini Maker Faire

circuit bending with Noisician Coalition at New Orleans Mini Maker Faire

We were in attendance with Noisician Coalition, letting people play with our homemade instruments, circuit-bending and making new drums out of trash cans and packing tape. (Apologies to anyone near our booth – it got a little noisy, of course! Hopefully next time the weather will be good and we can set up outside!)

3D printing at the New Orleans Mini Maker Faire

cardboard creations by The Bally Who at New Orleans Mini Maker Faire

cool gadgets at New Orleans Mini Maker Faire

There were so many cool gadgets, and more 3D printers in one room than I’ve ever seen. (I think David’s head was ready to explode with giddiness.) One of my favorite exhibits was the cool cardboard set made by the bALLY who? All around, it was an excellent first event for NOLA’s maker scene. I think there’s definitely a lot of room to grow though – luckily this isn’t the first and only. The organizers told us they plan to keep growing and turn this into an annual event. For more info, check out nolamakerfaire.com or follow them on Facebook.

You can see more photos from yesterday’s New Orleans Maker Faire event, or check out some of my pictures from the California Maker Faire in 2007.

75+ New Orleans Instagram Folks Worth Following

75 New Orleans Instagram Folks Worth Following

Like the Louisiana doodle above? I drew it! You can get it on products ranging from iPhone cases to luggage tags in my Zazzle shop!

For me, visual forms of social media, like Pinterest and Instagram, have quickly overtaken my interests, replacing Facebook and Twitter as favorite places to spend my time online. Let’s face it, pictures are just prettier and more interesting to look at!!

I follow a lot of locally based New Orleans Instagrammers, and so I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorites. I’ve broken them down into loosely organized categories to make it easier to digest. Dig in, because here are 75 New Orleans Instagram folks that I think are worth the follow! (Plus a little lagniappe after each section!)

nolaporches on Instagram

NOLA Porches features the porches, stoops, and doorways of New Orleans, as captured by @foxtotally. photo by nolaporches

NOLA on Instagram

gonola504
hotelmonteleone
igersneworleans
inthenola
newinnola
neworleanscvb
neworleansmademe
nolaporches
offbeatmagazine
showmeyournola
thescoutguideneworleans
visitneworleans

Lagniappe

nolafests

NolaBeings - portraits of New Orleanians on Instagram

“My dad made me go to an after school program and I decided to pick band just to get it out of the way. When I was playing in the band I started to enjoy it more than I thought I would. Eventually I started getting better and better because I practiced my trumpet.” “What do you want to do with the trumpet in the future?” “I’m not sure yet – probably travel around the world. But first go to some kind of college or some kind of music college to study jazz music.”

NOLAbeings features portraits & stories of New Orleanians daily on Instagram. photo by nolabeings

Gorgeous Photos of New Orleans & Louisiana

abandonednola
nateus
nolabeings
pamelagt
zydecorebel

Lagniappe

11ewitt
noladatphoto
nolagrey
unclebug

sunset in New Orleans, photo by HattieSparks

Hattie Moll is the lady behind Hattie Sparks, a boutique located uptown on Adams Street that focuses on products made by independent designers and craftsmen. photo by hattiesparks

Awesome Folks Around Town

andyknola
cieraholzenthal
dominiquecellis
goinvade
hattiesparks
humidhaney
jgalatas
kellyamccartney
kristyoustalet
mags504
mauxfo
melodicbabble
nadineblake
nancyrhett
nolamaven
nolamomsblog
waxxman

Lagniappe

eyelikeart
gracelovesnola
jenkarpowicz
jennrich17
jhesikamenes
kylejune
margmaiz
melissabastiannoig
nolapartyof2
northshoreparent
tiffanynapper

jessleighjewels - vintage jewelry on Instagram

Jess Leigh Jewels is a New Orleans transplant, by way of Ohio. She creates gorgeous jewelry using repurposed vintage & antique pieces, like those seen above! She can often be found at Frenchmen Art Market on weekend evenings. photo by jessleighjewels

Artists & Makers

bongachopshop
frenchmen_art_market
jessleighjewels
lionheartprints
maddarling
misskerryfitts
restrungjewelry
savvyroot
stillwatersjewelry
sweetolivenola
tchoupindustries
thegrovestreetpress
vargvargas

Lagniappe

anniewalkerart
candiednola
cassietarr
dooleyart
etsynola
houzenga
jeremyartworkhebert
julietmeeks
metrychick
riccorideaux
shopmissmalaprop
writerobinson

Roxie Le Rouge and Trixie Minx on Instagram - New Orleans burlesque

All fixtures on the New Orleans burlesque scene, follow bellabluenola, piper101, roxielerouge and trixienola for sexy fun antics. photo by roxielerouge

Entertainment

balconymusicclubnola
bellabluenola
fultonalley
neworleanssaints
oursunkencity
piper101
roxielerouge
trixienola

Lagniappe

bigfreediaqueendiva
ruffinsbbq

NOLA Fashion Week founder & fashion bloggerAndi Eaton onInstagram

Andi Eaton not only posts her street smart style at her own blog, Oui We, she’s also the lady behind NOLA Fashion Week and the Hazel & Florange clothing line. photo by andieaton

Fashion, Beauty, & Shopping

andieaton
babybumpmaternity
batsontees
cmhstyle
dirtycoast
fleurty_girl
juleytl
kawaiinola
loomednola
mamarouxstoreno
riverwalknola
shopcellasboutique
theskinstudio
thetrashydiva

Lagniappe

abeillenola
algstyle
bnola
iheartmiette
nofleasmarket

fleurdelishnola - food blogger from New Orleans on instagram

Native New Orleanian and food blogger Emily Smith posts mouth-watering photos from around town on both her Instagram account and her blog, Fleurdelicious. She also writes about food and dining in New Orleans for GoNOLA. photo by fleurdelishnola

Food & Dining

fleurdelishnola
nolafoodette
salunola
wholefoods_louisiana
winedinenola
zatarains

Lagniappe

mojocoffeehouse

This is by no means a completely comprehensive list. Who did I miss? Let me know in the comments & I’ll add them to the Lagniappe sections above!

ShopMIssMalaprop on Instagram

P.S. Don’t forget to follow me too! You can find me @therealmissmalaprop, or follow the shop profile for my handmade jewelry at @shopmissmalaprop.

UPDATED 3/19: Dominique Ellis has hand-picked some great NOLA Igers on her own blog that I missed the first go-around! I’ve added them to the Lagniappe sections above!

SEO Basics You Must Know: Create Great Relevant Content

One of the things small business owners tell me they’re most interested in learning more about is how to get found in Google search. The world of search engine optimization, aka SEO, can often be very daunting and overwhelming for small business owners who already have so much on their plate. Truth be told, SEO can be a very complicated thing, and something that even experienced website designers and Internet savvy people struggle with. However, if there is one thing you MUST know about SEO basics, it’s this:

SEO Basics You Must Know: Create Great Relevant Content

Create great relevant content that will help your customers find exactly what they’re looking for.

Want to get more people to find your site on Google? First, think about what it is you have to offer. Then think about your ideal customer. How would that person search for what you’re offering?

For instance, imagine that you make and sell amazing handmade soap. (It’s truly amazing!) It’s handcrafted using a cold process technique. (But what does that mean exactly, in non-soap-maker terms??) It features all natural ingredients. (Are they also organic? Or good for sensitive skin?)

Now think about who your customer usually is. Is it someone who’s looking for lots of soap to stock their bathroom with? Or do you sell more soap to people who are looking to give them as gifts, whether as a wedding favor, a gift for a coworker or as a holiday gift?

If your customers primarily buy your soap to give as gifts, but your website only talks about the ingredients of the soap and how it’s made, and not what a great gift it might make, customers who are searching on Google for unique handmade gifts will never find your soaps.

Now imagine that you write a page for your website: it’s a gift guide for Mother’s Day and you talk about your top five picks from your product line that would make the best gifts for mom. By creating this Mother’s Day gift guide, you can help your customers find a cool handmade gift quickly and easily. The content on this page can now be seen by Google, and since it features keywords related to “gift ideas for moms”, people who are searching for this term on Google will be more likely to find it. Not only that, you can share your awesome gift guide on social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest, generating even more traffic to your site.

When you’re working on your website, think like a real human being. (That should be easy, right?) Would the words on your home page describe your business in a way that your mom could understand?

SEO basics: Great content doesn’t just answer the what. It also answers the “Why should I care?”

Great content doesn’t just answer the what. It also answers the “Why should I care?”

SEO can be a complicated beast, and many of its intricacies are best left to a professional. Because it’s so complicated, however, many people don’t even try to bother with it at all. If you can master even the basics of creating relevant and original content for your website you’ll already be better off than half of your competitors. And isn’t that a place you’d like to be?

Want to learn more about SEO, blogging and creating great content?

Check out my post on how to start a blog, and once you’re off to a great start, read this great post by Jo Harrison on Super Simple SEO For Small Business.

Faire Collection: Artisan Made Jewelry & Accessories

Faire Collection Artisan Crafted Accessories

Faire Collection Artisan Jewelry & Accessories

Faire Collection Artisan Jewelry Miranda Necklace

Faire Collection Artisan Jewelry Zelda Necklace

I’ve been a long-time fan of the Faire Collection, formerly known as The Andean Collection. I’ve followed their story since pretty much the beginning, back in 2008.

Faire Collection works with artisans from around the world, including Ecuador, Peru, Swaziland and Vietnam, to create beautiful handcrafted jewelry and accessories. They work with a variety of natural, sustainable and recycled materials to create unique jewelry designs.

Many fair trade companies can come off as hippie-chic, with maybe a little bit more “hippie” than “chic”. One thing I love about Faire Collection, however, is that their designs are beautiful, modern and wearable. Design should always come first, because let’s face it… if it’s ugly, no one is going to wear it, no matter how great the cause.

Faire Collection has just launched their new Spring/Summer ’14 line, dubbed Horizons. The new collection embraces the spirit of world travel, mixed in with a big dose of 1950s inspired glamour and sophistication. My favorite pieces from the line? I love their geometric artisan made jewelry, handcrafted in Vietnam.

Faire Collection Artisan Jewelry

Featured:
monroe necklace – $115
mosaic cuff – $56
mondrian bangle – $39
geo-stack earring – $29

Want to learn more about the company? Read an interview I did with the founder, Amanda Judge, over at Made To Travel.

You can also get social and follow Faire Collection on Facebook and Pinterest to see more of their fair trade creations.

5 Key steps to making money at art markets

I recently chatted with my friend Kristy Oustalet about what goes into making money at art markets and craft shows. Not only did we discuss these things, we recorded it for all the world to see!

You can watch the video below, or head over to Kristy’s site to see more interviews with creative entrepreneurs. (I highly recommend checking out the episode with April Bowles-Olin from Blacksburg Belle!)

Need more ideas on how to start selling at craft shows and making money there? Be sure to check out my new e-book on that very topic!

15 Great Recycled Gift Ideas

Recycled Gifts Under $25

Recycled Gifts Under $25

My friends Heather & Mark of Unique Products make tons of cool recycled art, including all sorts of lighting fixtures out of old Mardi Gras beads! Their night-lights are a great affordable gift – this heart is just one of the shapes it comes in. You can check out all of their night-lights here.

This stylish journal is made out of recycled cotton, salvaged from the textile industry. No trees were harmed in the making of this notebook! It’s an easy gift idea perfect for a co-worker or a teacher.

These lightweight earrings are made from recycled Coca Cola bottles, and polished off with a finish that makes them resemble salvaged sea glass.

These coasters made from old vinyl music records make for a great holiday gift for friends or co-workers, not to mention what a fabulous house-warming gift they’d make! Package it up with a bottle of wine, and you’ve got a gift that’s sure to please!

I love pretty much everything that Blue Q makes, including this messenger bag. All of their bags are made from 95% post-consumer recycled materials. Not only that, but they are the largest private employer of individuals with disabilities in Western Massachusetts, where they are based. Blue Q is a pretty rad company! (You can read more about their policies here.)

Recycled Gifts Under $50

Recycled Gifts Under $50

This fun tote bag features two different recycled elements: recycled denim blue jeans, plus recycled bicycle inner tubes! The bag is crafted in Delhi, India by a fair trade artisan group.

Need a great gift idea for your favorite geek? This cool clock is made from an upcycled old computer hard drive!

I love the crazy colors and textures on this doormat, made from old rubber flip-flop sandals! It’s a fun and useful gift, great for newlyweds or as a housewarming gift.

For more practicality, organize your letters, magazines and paperwork in style with these trays, made from old LP records.

I also love the simple design and usefulness of these drinking glasses, which are made from recycled glass bottles. They’re dishwasher safe, and they’ve got a little fleur-de-lis design on the front of each glass!

Recycled Gifts Under $100

Recycled Gifts Under $100

Designer Nick Mask of Six Finger Studios makes all sorts of great creations for your home from reclaimed wood. Each piece, like this wall mounted wine rack, is individually hand-crafted from his Bozeman, Montana studio.

Artist Niki Rasor was inspired to create bags and purses out of old firefighter’s jackets after her fireman husband asked for a little help altering his own jacket. She now creates a full line of handbags and duffels made from decommissioned firefighter’s uniforms. Check out her full line of bags here.

Polish company Crea-re focuses on creating useful items out of recycled materials. Designer Maria Fiter creates all sorts of items, including lighting fixtures, but I especially love her guitar cases made from old truck tarps and advertising banners, which also feature recycled car seat belts for straps.

Seattle based Alchemy Goods is another great company that focuses on using recycled materials in their creations. Their handbags made from upcycled bicycle inner tubes are a great vegan alternative to a black leather bag!

If you do like leather though, but prefer to see it recycled, you should check out these fun flasks by Gemma Gilleard of Gx2homegrown. These stylish stainless steel flasks are covered in recycled leather, and each one is a bit different. They’d make such a great boyfriend gift!

For more great recycled gift giving, you can always make your own DIY gifts using upcycled materials! Check out my DIY gift ideas board on Pinterest for inspiration, or browse the book Gorgeous Gifts: Use recycled materials to make cool crafts for loads of great ideas.

Do you have suggestions for any other recycled gift ideas I should check out?

Gifts That Give Back

Typhoon Haiyan: how you can help

As the holidays start rapidly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about gift giving. Personally, if you want to get anything for me this year – you can donate to my campaign to raise funds for Oxfam America’s Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts.

I’m also donating a percentage of sales from my online shop, local art market sales, and sales of my new e-book, now through December 31st! More details here.

Looking for other ways to give and make a difference at the same time? Here are a few of my favorite options.

Kiva

Hands down, Kiva is one of my favorite charities around. I’ve been making loans there 2007, and I’ve also used their gift certificate feature a number of times.

Kiva is awesome because instead of simply giving money to people, Kiva works with micro-lenders around the world, to give loans to people who couldn’t otherwise get a loan through a traditional bank. These loans help people grown their businesses, buy an animal or equipment to grow more food, and help them improve their economic situation.

The other cool thing about Kiva is since it’s a loan, once you get paid back for the 1st loan, you can re-loan that same money to someone else. It really is the gift that keeps on giving!

Charity Navigator also gives Kiva a really high rating, so you know that your money is going to be spent wisely.

 Gold & Gray Jewelry - sharktooth necklaces

Gold & Gray Jewelry will be donating 20% of proceeds from all of their Shark Tooth Necklaces to support the Ocean Conservancy. Pictured above:

- knotted labradorite & shark tooth necklace
- smoky topaz & shark tooth necklace
- mini shark tooth necklace
- moss aquamarine & shark tooth necklace

See the Light, Feed the Hungry candle collection

New Orleans based Fleur de Light Candles donates $1 from the sale of each of their See the Light, Feed the Hungry candle collection to Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana.

Since they started this program 2 years ago, Fleur de Light Candles has been able to help provide over 62,000 meals to the hungry in our community, thanks to the support of their customers. If you want to donate directly to the Second Harvest Food Bank, you can do so here.

What are your favorite ways to give back during the holiday season?

My New E-book: How to Make Money at Craft Shows

How to Make Money at Craft Shows - Art Market and Craft Fair Tips & Tricks - PDF ebook, instant download

It’s been in the works for awhile, but now it’s finally here: my new e-book, How to Make Money at Craft Shows!

I’ve been selling my handmade goods, along with work by other artists, at all sorts of craft shows and art markets since 2004. I’ve learned a lot along the way, and now I’m ready to share it with you!

What this 55 page e-book includes:

- how to define your target market
- where to find good shows to sell at
- how much should I spend on a booth fee at a show?
- how to make your booth look great
- promoting your show & getting your customers there
- my craft show tips & tricks
- dealing with crazy weather & unexpected events
- theft prevention
- craft show supply checklist
- how to give great customer service
- how to use craft shows to create after-the-show sales
- alternative venues to sell your work, beyond traditional craft shows
- how to create your own events to sell at
- tracking your inventory
- how to create a personal & business spending plan
- big hunkin’ list of craft show resources

Who this book is for:

- This book will be most useful for someone new to selling at craft shows. I do cover more advanced topics as well though, including how to define your target market, visual merchandising, inventory tracking, and creating a business spending plan. The book includes worksheets along the way to help you.

- The information in this book is based on my experiences, selling in the United States, mostly in Louisiana. However, most of the information contained here is useful to anyone around the world who is interested in setting up a booth at craft shows, festivals or conventions.

I'll donate 50% of all sales of my e-book to Typhoon victim relief, now through December 31.

Why you should get it now:

In case you missed it
, now through December 31, 2013, I’m donating 25% of all sales in my online shop, as well as 10% of all sales at Frenchmen Art Market and any other local events to Oxfam America’s relief efforts to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Since I’m launching this book, and want to continue to find more ways to give, now through December 31 I’ll also be donating 50% of all sales of the e-book to Oxfam America as well. (Want to donate directly? Please! You can donate here.)

My new e-book is available for instant download on Etsy for just $9! Click here to buy it now.

Typhoon Haiyan: How you can help!

Typhoon Haiyan: how you can help

Ever since the news broke about the widespread destruction and the lives lost due to Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, my heart has been aching, and I’ve been trying to figure out what I could do to help.

As someone who lived through the winds of Hurricane Katrina (we rode it out at my mom’s house on the Mississippi Gulf Coast), and who has dealt with the aftermath of the ensuing federal levee disaster that followed here in New Orleans, this particular disaster feels very close to my heart.

Luckily, Charity Navigator has put together a list of the best organizations working on the ground in the Philippines right now to help. Charity Navigator ranks non-profit organizations based on their financial health (how they delegate and use all of that money you donate to them), as well as on their accountability and how transparent they are about their finances and the work they do.

Click here to see their full list of charities providing relief to victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Typhoon Haiyan: how you can help

Personally, I’ve decided that now through December 31st, I’ll be donating 25% of all sales in my online shop, as well as 10% of all sales at Frenchmen Art Market and any other local events to Oxfam America’s relief efforts. I’ll also be donating 50% of sales of my new e-book, How to Make Money at Craft Shows, now through December 31st, 2013!

Want to donate directly? I’ve also set up a fundraising campaign through Oxfam America. You can click here to donate.

Typhoon Haiyan: how you can help

If you’re in New Orleans, you can also dine out this weekend at local pop-up Filipino restaurant Milkfish. You can learn more about chef & owner Cristina Quackenbush’s efforts to help here, or you can check out Milkfish’s menu here.