Whether you are applying for your first craft stall, or whether you have a few under your belt you will no doubt be competing with other artists and crafters for pitches at your chosen craft markets and fairs. If you are thinking of selling at craft fairs long term, or selling at your chosen fairs regularly, then taking the right approach to your application will make you stand out from the crowd, and help organisers to remember you. As a craft market organisers we get a lot of applications to sell at our markets, and in our experience, a carefully crafted application has the knock on effect that you will likely be accepted, and asked back to future markets. In addition, you might also be chosen to be part of the organisers email list to be the first to know about their future craft fairs and markets before the dates go public.
What Are The Organisers Looking For?
Putting it simply, craft fair organisers want to have a variety of stalls selling high quality items at their craft market. A good craft fair event organiser have some written guidelines for you to follow, so that when you get in touch to express an interest, they will send you the market details.
For our markets, this consists of a PDF information pack that contains details about the market, what type of stalls are accepted, place, time and dates, the cost of pitches and the terms and conditions that you must agree to. This should be the minimum that is provided to help you decide whether the craft fair is a good fit for you.
Essentially, we look for the following for our Handmade Craft Market:
- Handmade not mass produced
- High quality products (robust and well made with a high level of skill)
- Proof of public liability insurance
- Proof of other certificates if applicable (i.e. UKCA marking or hygiene certificates if applicable)
These are the first things we look at when considering an application, and we won’t confirm a place without them, So it is worth preparing photos and copies of certificates before you start applying.
Details You Need To Include With Your Application
At the very least, you need to supply your full name and and an email address. Some organisers want a phone number too. If you have a company name then include that as well. If you have a website, or social media accounts send those too if you can.
We like people to send in their social media handles, this is the username that begins with ‘@’ for example, ours is @craftyboaters for all of our social media sites. These are particularly useful for when advertising the markets, and we tag sellers, so that they can share the content on their own social media pages.
If you don’t have a social media handle then we suggest that you get one set up. You will have one if you have set up an Instagram account, but if you have a Facebook page we recommend that you set one up on there as well. If you have Instagram and Facebook, try and make the handles the same. You can find out how to set up your username for Facebook here
Public Liability, UKCA Marking & Food Hygiene
Most craft fairs will insist that you have public liability insurance. There are many companies to chose from, and a quick comparison should give you the best deal.
Remember to check the level of insurance that the craft fair specifies. Often this is public liability up to 5 million, but some ask for up to 10 million. If you are new to art and craft stalls, check out Axisweb.org They offer a low cost membership which includes public and product liability insurance for craft fairs. It is worth noting though, that the cover is for individuals or sole traders with no employees.
If you don’t fall into that category, then a quote from Simply Business is an alternative option. If you also sell online, then you will need to declare this at the time of obtaining a quote. Not all insurance policies will cover you for both, so it is important to check.
Similarly, if you sell goods such as toys, look into getting UK conformity Assessed Marking (UKCA). This standard applies to the UK and came about after we left the European Union (EU). Previously, we conformed to CE marking, which is still the standard if you sell your products in the EU. You can find out more about UKCA marking from the government website here
The Food Standards Agency stipulate that it is not compulsory to hold a food hygiene certificate to prepare and sell food. However, unless you can prove that you have completed an official food training course, a food hygiene certificate is evidence that you have the knowledge to prepare, store and sell food safely. You can find out more about food hygiene on the government web page Food Hygiene For Your Business
Photographs Of Your Products
The first time an event organiser sees your products is when you apply for your pitch. Organisers want to see products before accepting you to the craft fair so that they can decide whether your products fit the craft market. They also want to see the quality of your product, and to make sure that you are not a duplicate of a mother seller. Therefore, your photographs need to be as good as possible. They need to
- Clearly show the whole of the product
- Be of high resolution
- Shown in good light
A picture that is fuzzy, too dark or cuts off some of the product will not show your handiwork off to its best. If the organiser can’t see the product properly, or what it is, then you could be putting organisers off choosing you. Nobody wants all of their all of carefully crafted items rejected (unless of course what has been made is of a low quality). On the upside, if they are really good the organiser might ask you if they can be used in some of their advertising, that would be a great boost for you.
When organisers ask for photographs, they will make their requests clear. For example, we ask for about 5-7 individual photographs that show the products you will be bringing.
We ask people to refrain from sending collages, because we can’t then ask if we can use individual shots for advertising, and by the way, if you do allow us to use your photos, we always mention you adding your social media handle or tagging you (a reason to get that social media handle sorted out!).
One of the biggest turn offs for any organiser are those applicants that write to us asking for a pitch but rather than sending photos, their email reads ‘I have a Facebook page, you can see my work on there’ Remember, that there will be a lot of other people with the same name as you, and sorting through lots of photos takes quite a long time.
We have 40 stalls at our markets and our applicants exceed the number of stalls available. Imagine the time it would take to find everyone on social media! In short, you are making the application, so you need to put the work in to prepare your own photos and send us the best ones.
Securing Your Pitch & Refunds
Hurrah! You have made the grade and been accepted to have a stall at the fair that you have applied to. The next thing to do is pay for your pitch. You should receive details on how to pay once you have been accepted. Some organisers do not give out payment details until after they have accepted an applicant, to prevent potential stallholders from sending money only to have to be refunded if they do not get accepted for the craft fair.
The first important point about payment is that in most cases, payment secures your pitch. It is the confirmation if you like that informs the organisers that you are definitely coming. With lots of stalls to fill, organisers do not want to be left with empty pitches. Therefore, if you don’t confirm by paying for your pitch they will offer it to someone else. There will usually be a certain amount of time for you to pay. This would be mentioned in the information they send to you.
Some craft event organisers have multiple markets throughout the year, and operate a deposit system whereby you can pay a non-refundable deposit for each of the craft fairs you would like to attend, and then pay the remainder for each market a few weeks before the market takes place. This allow you to spread the cost, rather than having to find a lot of money upfront. Which ever way you pay, there will still be a deadline to pay by, and after this date your pitch may no longer be secure, and will be opened up, or filled by a suitable replacement on a waiting list.
Will you get a refund if you miss the deadline, or can no longer attend? That depends. Organisers need to make purchases to run a craft fair. The venue, posters, online advertising, and possibly run a website just to name a few. Your pitch fee is partially made up of those purchases. Whether you attend or not, they still have to buy these things.
Therefore, you may find that after a certain deadline you may not get a refund, or that you receive a partial refund, such as a refund minus an admin fee. Remember the nearer the market is the less likely it is that organisers can fill the empty spaces.
They may well have a waiting list, but it isn’t as easy as just choosing the next person on the list. It has to be a person from a craft category that is not already full. In other words, it needs to be like for like or a craft category that they don’t already have. Organisers know that this sounds tough, but it is their livelihood at stake as well if event organising is their living.
Finally, you have got to the point of paying for your pitch. Most of the time payments are made by bank transfer. This brings us to another important point. When you make a payment by bank transfer there will be a reference section to fill in. Please read this next sentence carefully. The reference section is for the receiver of the money, not the sender.
As a sender, you can open up a payment you have made and see who you sent it to. The receiver (in this case the craft fair account you are sending the money to) relies on the reference to know who has paid that money to them. Many organisers will stipulate what they want you to put in the reference box, we like people to use their name as a reference, then we know exactly who has paid and can mark that next to their application. Putting ‘craft market’ or another generic name does not tell the organiser who has paid, and if multiple sellers use references like this it is very difficult to sort it out. If the organiser is not sure who has paid, they can’t mark your pitch as paid and thus secured.
When you apply for a pitch at a market give yourself the best chance of being accepted. Preparation is key and should be one of your key tasks along with your other tasks before the next round of craft markets see our top 5 tips here.
Read all of the information before applying, and have copies of any relevant certificates like public liability insurance to hand. Remember to check the required public liability insurance cover.
Make sure you know what the organisers are looking for. Do you have the right products? Can you tick all of the boxes for the markets requirements? If you can the chances are you and your products are a good fit for the craft fair.
Get yourself a social media handle if you don’t have one and make sure you send it with your application in the section of details about you.
Take good photographs of your products and edit them so that they show your products in good light at a high resolution, keep them in a folder on your computer so that you can use them for multiple markets. You don’t necessarily need new photos each time, just a representation of what you make and sell.
Make sure you put the deadlines for payments in your diary. Remember also, to fill-in the reference section of any bank transfer payment so that the organiser can identify who has paid. Late payments or unidentifiable payments could cost you your pitch.