british craft trade fair day

Long day yesterday, and most of it on my feet, but at least I didn’t have to drive home, no idea how husband manages after a long day.  He drives and I go to sleep.  Several million brownie points for him.

We were at Harrogate for the British Craft Trade Fair where there were over 400 businesses, often just one or two people getting their work noticed by galleries and shops and other buyers, as well as visitors like us.

It differed from a craft or ceramics fair in that they were not selling a single product, in my case some buttons or a pendant, but they were show casing their whole business, all that they make, and often the promise of the life style that comes with it.

The quality of the work and the stands were amazing, such amazing products, and stand layouts, and so professional.  Think art gallery and not your average craft fair.

One other thing that differed from the usual fairs were the prices, they were all trade prices, not retail prices.  The general rule of thumb seems to be that you half your retail price for traders.  Galleries and shops add on a certain percentage to cover their costs, after all they need to pay for the rent, heating, electricity and staff as well as the maker having to pay for similar costs.

So as well as looking at my work as a whole, as a collection, to try and bring it together as a whole body of work, not buttons, and then jewellery, and then other items, I need to find a way that it all comes together and creates a whole picture, and look at my costs too.

I looked at the costs when I first set up which was two years ago now, and nearly 18 months since I first started selling, and I think I need to re work the costs, as my costs have increased, and the postage recently has changed and the costs gone up.  Also the cost of my time will become a larger factor in costs as I, hopefully, need to make more.

I sew the buttons on to cards at the moment, and thinking about the time spent doing that, after a full kiln it’s two or three days work of sorting and sewing, I need to find a faster and quicker way to put my buttons on the cards.

And thinking about the buttons on cards, I spent time and money putting labels on the cards with my butterfly and name, so could time and cost be saved if the information were printed right onto the card?   If I made my own cards then I could dictate the size and the amount of buttons on a card rather than having the card dictate the amount of buttons.

All decisions to make to bring the collection together, not just the time spent making the items.

It’s like wearing a different head, swapping the potters head to a retail managers/business womans head.

And back to the trade fair, I think I will be doing it next year.  Speaking to many of the makers yesterday it seems that it’s a very friendly atmosphere, it felt like it, and the organisers were friendly and helpful, and there were people from all over the country taking part, and shop, and gallery owners from all over the country too.  So I think it would be worth my while in doing it.

An extremely enlightening day, and met some lovely people face to face rather than through a keyboard, always a huge plus.



  1. See how to lower your costs in principle but don’t make the change ( like printed cards until you have some decent sized wholesale orders.) Also retailers could want different packaging so that needs to be part of the discussion with you. Please remember that a big wholesale order can finish you if your price is wrong. Also are you sure you will be happy doing real volume? Don’t turn yourself into a factory without meaning to.

  2. I have had this open as a tab for a few days because I wanted to give a well thought-out response. These are issues I think about as well, as an artist hoping to be more an a hobbyist.

    It seems to me there are two issues here, though they affect one another of course. The first is what look you would like for your product line, a brand identity to use the current buzzword. The second is how to achieve it leaving you maximum time to do the creative work which only you can do. Rather than spending two days sewing buttons onto cards yourself, could you train a local young person who needs pin money to do it? That would give you backtwo production days at bench or kiln. Any of these small tasks that do not rely exclusively on your talent as a ceramicist should be handed off, I think.

    As to the look you want, I cannot help because that will be unique to your style. Perhaps, though, if you do not feel hindered by tthe idea of how to execute the look, you will more easily decide what it is.

    Hope is helps,


  3. Thanks Susan, I have found a way of putting buttons onto card and being able to get them off again, the sticky glue stuff that they put CDs on the front cover of magazines, that you can peel off. So looking into that.
    Brand identity, yes that’s a whole new kettle of fish is that one.

    • Hi Susan,

      Even if the glue dots are quicker, you should have someone else do it, to free up your creative time.

      As to brand identity, I think you are making progress with the butterfly logo, etc. The hard part is shaping the product line to tell a coherent story.


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