The Business Chat – How to fill out a craft show application

With a huge sigh of relief I put away the last of my receipts thinking I was all finished with horrible admin tasks. Then heck, it happened. I looked at the calendar and realized, crap, it’s January 14 and I have a craft show application due on the 15th (the show is next November). 
ARGH! Good thing I looked at the calendar and an even better thing that I had written that deadline down. So I shall defer the sigh of relief as I fill out one more application.
When you are starting your crafty business there is no faster way to build up a clientele, conduct market research and create cash flow than participating in retail craft shows. As a bonus, they can be really fun! (so long as you’re organized and prepared. And a people person.)
Although most of us are still in holiday recovery mode, now is the time to pull together your craft show applications for 2015. 
Are you planning on doing a craft show in 2015? It’s a hard decision if you are in the beginning stages of your business to think about what you’ll be doing next October but now is the time to think. Even if you’re not sure, take some time to do the research. Many shows have their applications available now even if the deadline is in April or May. 
Fortunately almost all show organizers have websites where you can download the application. Applications are free, go ahead, check out a whole bunch of them. Even if you aren’t sure about doing a show it’s always good to know about them for future reference.
Once you’ve made a list of shows, download all the applications. If an application is not yet available make a note on your calendar when you can get it. When you have your applications write the application deadlines on your calendar so you don’t miss one!
When you are new to the show world, your application is the only thing an organizer has to judge you by. It needs to be clean, professional and to the point. It is a really good idea to create a standard application kit for yourself. With a standard kit, when an application needs to be filled in all you have to do is select the pieces it requires and print them out. So what goes in a standard application kit you ask? Well, read on my crafty friends.  
Company profile. This is the first page of my kit. It includes all the basic facts on who I am, what I make and how to find me. The sections of my profile are:
Artist – 2 paragraphs of who you are and why you do what you do
Product – 1 paragraph describing your work and it’s origins 
Company – these are the basic facts
# Years 
Show list – 
All the shows you have participated in for the past 2 years. 
Hmm, what to do when you are brand new and don’t have a show list… Well, did you invite a bunch of friends over and sell them work? Call it the first annual “Holiday Frolic” or something. You can also include a note explaining that you are new and give a list of shows that you are applying to. 
Get the BEST photos that you can. Digital cameras are really cheap so there’s no excuse for bad photos. If your photos are truly awful invest some time reading the manual for your camera and learn how to take good shots. Your 5 – 10 images are all an organizer has to judge your work on, make them shine. There is no formula for image shots but there are some basic rules. Use a plain coloured background, preferably white. This isn’t about showing how artistic a photographer you are, it’s about showing what you make. Do not crowd the shot, each image should be of 1 or maximum 2 pieces. Make sure the whole shot is in focus. Label each photo (on the back) with your name, company name, name of the piece and what it’s made of.
Create a master list of 10 photos. Shows will ask for between 5 and 10. Some will require actual prints, others will be submitted on a USB drive or some are digitally submitted. 
As well as your product shots there are 2 other shots you should always have on file. They are:
A booth shot. The organizer wants to make sure that you can put together a respectable booth that doesn’t look like a flea market. It must have a good company sign and look professional. You will not be held to this booth design but it should be similar. 
A studio shot. Not every application will require this, however it’s a good idea to have one on file. They want to make sure that your work is actually handmade. By you.                                                   
Now put together this kit. I use a 9X12 presentation folder (available in any office supply store). On the left side of the folder I include my materials, including a business card and a post card. On the right side I include the application itself, a cheque and a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope). 
One last tip. 
ALWAYS send your application in as fast as you can, don’t wait until the deadline. Just because a show has a deadline of March 31 doesn’t mean that your category is still open until March 31. Besides, the faster you get your application in, the faster you get that task off your to do list.
ps. oh and when you have a booth down the aisle from me come and say hi! Every single show I’ve done in the past 4 years, someone has come up to me and told me they either took my class (soon to be online!) or read this blog. There’s a lot of you making it out there and I’m proud of all of you. 
For those who are somewhat befuddled by the Company Profile, here is mine. This goes on my letterhead in a much nicer format. 

Artist: Catherine Winter
Catherine Winter is a Toronto based glass bead artist and jewelry designer.
From the lecture halls of the University of Toronto (psychology) to studying Spanish in a gypsy cave in Granada, Spain, Catherine is forever engaged in learning about the world. Ten years ago this burning desire to learn new skills became, literally, a burning passion as she began the never ending study of flamework. Primarily self-taught, Catherine has taken workshops with many internationally recognized glass artists to further her glass education.
As she learnt the ancient art of glass bead making she also studied jewelry design privately and at Harbourfront Centre, enabling her to turn her beads into wearable art.
“Stories are narratives of our lives, shared pieces of our histories and our experiences. I’m inspired to use my glasswork to tell stories of faraway places, of the world around me. I want people to wear not a necklace, but a tale of my making”.
All Sailorgirl Jewelry is 100% original and unique. All designs are by Catherine Winter. All glass beads are made by Catherine Winter using Effetre/Bullseye glass and a lampwork torch. All her beads are kiln annealed for durability. All jewelry is constructed in the Toronto studio of Catherine Winter with her own hands using her beads and sterling silver. 
Nationality: Canadian
Address: 107 Alton Ave
Toronto, ON
Canada, M4L 2M3
Employees: One. Catherine Winter is the one and only employee, head of production, chief shipper and receiver, designer.
# Years: Full time since June 1, 2003

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