Festival of Quilts – my lowdown on the ins and outs, up and downs of exhibiting.
I exhibited for the first time at the Festival of Quilts this year that ended today 12 August 2018. I am sure it is a dream of many amateur quilters as well as professionals like myself. It was a huge learning curve and I had exhibited before both with knitting and gardening, but had forgotten some of the golden rules. So here are a few tips for all budding exhibitors:
1. Exhibiting is more about getting your name around than making sales
2. Basically you are ready to exhibit when your business has surplus cash and your accountant (if you have one) tells you that you have a large tax bill and it’s a good time to do a promotion
3. If you are a hobbyist, do not even think of a show like this – it is extremely expensive and not for non-professionals. You need a professional display and this is a learning curve.
4. What do I mean by expensive? The smallest stand will cost in excess of 1,000 pounds and you might only get a tenth of that back (like I said it is not about sales). Sellers deserve every sale because without them the show would not exist.
5. In addition do not forget electricity, card reader, hotel, travel costs to and from the show, food, parking (that alone cost me over 40 pounds for two nights when my helper came and insurance (obligatory). You will also need promotional materials and banners etc. reliable internet connection is charged as an extra. Do not make your leaflets and literature date or show specific.
6. Long days are hard on the legs, staring at the opposite wall if you hate this sort of thing. You have to be willing to engage often unwilling visitors and have stamina and a lot of patience. Just set up and take down are a nightmare. I think meeting people is the most enjoyable experience. A competition might engage people and be a talking point.
7. Don’t forget to get across your message and communicate.
8. A professional stand means potential customers will engage. No handwritten signs and make sure all quilts displayed are of a professional standard.
9. Have someone with you so that you can have a rest, go and eat and use the loos without worrying about your stand.
10. Don’t believe everything people say about shows. There are lots of people who talk of nothing but theft at the shows, I did not have anything stolen. It is tough work and hard to recover the costs of exhibiting, no matter how hard you work. Sadly most people visit for ideas, yet the trade stands are the only reason the show exists. Have a range of items from low cost upwards to hopefully make sales. Above all enjoy it, it is an unforgettable experience. Just enjoy it.
Next week – don’t miss my pick of the best of the show.
Images have been posted in the Quilting Design Course fb group, for those who are members.