10 Craft Fair Application Tips from a Pro

Craft Fair Application Tips
This time of the year has us reviewing hundreds of applications for the 45ish spots we have at our upcoming Brooklyn Holiday Bazaar. It’s a fun, rewarding and also exhausting process. While the bottom line is whether your work is remarkable and in line with the market’s vision, there are a few things you can do to help your application stand out at popular markets like ours. After five years of reviewing applications from hundreds of local brands, these are our 10 tips to make your craft fair application closer to ‘accepted’.

1. Know your market

If you’re applying to a market that you haven’t been to in person, it pays off to do a bit of research on their website first to get a good idea of whether your brand is a good fit or not. Most markets have recaps or photo galleries from previous editions, where you can see past participants and get a sense of the event’s vision, aesthetic and overall vibe. You might even come across past participants that you know, and you can get extra tips from them about what the event is like and what kind of vendors do well there.

2. Be nice. It’s free

Seriously, it’s so simple and makes a huge difference. An application that starts with a non-robotic greeting and has a general tone that is friendly and approachable is so much nicer to read.

3. Don’t copy and paste your bio

It shows very little effort and care when an application starts “XYZ Designs is a jewelry brand founded by…”. Our application (and most others) specifies what information to include in the body of your app, such as your process. Ignoring those guidelines lowers your chances if the judges don’t have all the information they need. Review the info that’s requested and if you want to use your bio, modify it to include what they’re asking for or paste it after the body of your application.

4. Show why your want to participate

You really want in on this show? Why? If you’ve been to a show you’re applying before as a shopper, or you’ve heard great things about it, tell the organizers. It’s good to show that you know their event, what it’s like, and why your brand is a good fit for it.

5. Spell out what’s unique about your brand

Going back to XYZ designs as an example of what happens often: “XYZ is a jewelry brand in Brooklyn. Our products are all handmade by me in my studio. We use the finest materials…”. That’s all great, but it doesn’t give anyone an idea of what your products are like. Spell our what’s different and unique about your brand. For competitive categories like jewelry or skincare, which get tons of applicants with similar products, it’s even more important to be descriptive in a clear and compelling way.

6. Do a little housekeeping

Take a good look at your website before sending your application. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve checked out a vendor site in June that still had holiday items front and center. You need to make sure your products are fresh and relevant. It’s also a good time to review your bio and contact info and make sure everything is up to date.

7. Must. Have. Great. Photos.

There’s just no way around it. Judges don’t get to see your products in person when they’re reviewing your application, so your photos must be clear, bright, and in focus. They should be large enough to show good detail, especially if your product has textures or fine details. Multiple photos for each product are helpful. Here’s a great article about taking your own pro photos.

8. Been there, done that? Not so fast.

If you’ve participated before in the fair you’re applying to, you might be tempted to think you’re automatically in again. While you know the judges like your work, you should make sure your site highlights new products that they might not have seen. They probably don’t want to see the same items year after year. You don’t know what new brands may be applying, so it’s important to show that you continue growing and doing great work.

9. Talk your craft fair experience up

Besides talking about your brand and your process, it’s helpful to talk about your experience with other markets. If you’ve participated successfully in other events the judges might be familiar with, be sure to mention that. If you’re just starting, don’t hide it — tell them why you’d love to have the opportunity to debut at their event. Markets often look for new brands that they can be the first to feature, so don’t be afraid to apply to a big show just because you’ve never done one before.

10. Double -no, triple check your spelling

We’ve had several applications we couldn’t reply to because the email address was misspelled. Website links that went nowhere. Sometimes in the excitement of filling an application you might rush through things, but unless it’s 11.58pm on the last day of the application period, take your sweet time and re-read everything. And please, please, be sure not to misspell the name of the event (you’d be surprised).

Extra tip: if you don’t get accepted, don’t take it personally. Keep in mind that many popular fairs have an acceptance rate of less than 20%. Most fairs limit the number of vendors per category, and have a pretty specific vision they’re planning for. If you’d like to get some feedback, reach out and ask. You may not always get a reply, but you may get some helpful pointers.

Finally, most importantly, keep doing what you’re doing and growing your brand. Hope you found these helpful! If you have any other can’t-miss tips for a successful craft fair application, please share in the comments below.