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  • Question!!

    Hey all

    We have our first hand-made only fair coming up in a few weeks, and have found it really hard getting people to sign up for stalls. Main issue seems to be our requirement that traders have public/product liability cover, which in my view is pretty lame as I don't understand how people (even "hobby crafters") can afford NOT to have it, but there you go...

    Anyway, that's not really directly related to my question! We are trying whichever way we can to fill the day up and make it interesting and worthwhile for everyone - we have some people coming along to sit and make, so people can watch/ask questions etc., but we still want enough stalls for buyers to browse and feel they've had a good time!

    And this is the rub; I have been really strict about sticking to our hand-made only principles, and we certainly won't be letting that slip just to fill some stalls up. There is someone my business partner works with who has written a book, which has been illustrated by a friend of his, and which he has paid to have printed. As part of his day job he provides publicity/media suport to the organisation I get my business support from, and part of his job is to help their start-up clients get into the local media by writing and circulating press releases. He has said that he's prepared to help us get into the main local papers and so on in return for us letting him have a stall at our event.

    I personally don't feel too good about it, but my business partner doesn't have a problem with it. I'm not convinced his book really fits with our ethos, and I also feel he is holding us to ransom, and witholding something that he is supposed to do for us as part of his job, just to push his own business - which I don't think his employers would be too pleased about. There is also no guarantee that he will do any of what he says he will - we all know it can be hard to get editorials in the press if more interesting things turn up, and he could theoretically say he's done all this stuff for us while actually not doing anything, and then blame non-publication on the papers themselves, which we wouldn't really be able to do anything about.

    How would you feel about this if you were in my shoes? And if you were booked to trade at a hand-made only fair, would you feel miffed about someone selling a book they had written and then had printed? Would you feel it did or didn't fit with the 'hand-made only' criteria?

    I'm feeling very confused about the whole thing, and would really appreciate your views - you all always make me think about things in new ways!!!


    Sarah Gail Designs
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  • #2
    Tricky one and I bet you get loads of different opinions.

    Writing is most definitely a creative skill so personally I don't think I'd be too upset if they attended the same handmade fair as me. After all they are selling something they created and I suppose it's technically no different to a photographer or artist selling prints.

    As for the holding you to ransom bit, yep that would annoy me greatly too but at the end of the day if he's going to help fill a table and make the event a more varied experience for the visitors it'll benefit you too....and who knows he might get you some great publicity.
    Visit Natty Netty for a huge selection of Iris Folding supplies


    • #3
      Thanks Netty

      Different opinions are good! I am aware that I can be a bit controlling about things at times, so if there are quite a few people telling me to chill out about it, then I will take that on board, just as I will think about comments from the other viewpoint!!

      I think part of my reluctance in this particular instance is down to the fact that this person has let me down regarding help with publicity on a number of occasions in the past, and I don't think he's actually very good! If he was reliable and I felt I could trust him, I probably would feel differently about the whole thing.

      Oh dear, I can feel it's going to be a long night of me mulling this over!!

      Sarah Gail Designs
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      • #4
        Have to say I agree with Natty. I do a couple of excellent maker only events where the organiser is pretty strict. On one occasion, one of my neighbours was a guy selling a professionally manufactured game that he had invented - no-one at the event seemed to have any problem with him being there and I can't see why an author is any different. We all need to get the assistance of manufactured items in order to complete our product, be it part of the finished article or the packaging/printing. Some very good crafting friends make all sorts of items using hand created artwork but the actual creation of the coasters, printed bags, etc is done for them professionally. I think it would be unreasonable of anyone to think that someone could physically print their own book so I think it would fit in well and if you get some good publicity too, all the better.

        As for the holding to ransom part - I think it will play into your hands to have a vibrant & buzzing show with lots for visitors to do & see so I wouldn't worry too much (what goes around comes around so if he is trying to pull a fast one, it'll come back to bite him at some point in the future! I love karma!!)

        Have a great show and well done to sticking by your principles and not just backing down to fill space.
        Ali x

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        • #5
          How many things truly ARE hand-made only?

          What will your prospective customers expect from the term 'hand-made'? For instance, I make papier mache decorative items and do card modelling - mainly seasonal or automata - but I use purchased or recycled paper, card, glue and paint. Sacrilege perhaps, but I even use my computer to aid in designs! Would that be classed as hand-made?

          If a person buys ready-spun wool and knits it, is the resulting article truly hand-made - or would you expect the knitter to be a shepherd, a shearer, a scourer, a carder and a spinner, too?

          Only you can decide where to draw the line; if you expect the knitter to keep their own sheep and spin their own wool, then it would be fair to demand that the writer makes his own paper (from reeds plucked by hand, perhaps?), uses a home-made feather quill and ink squeezed out of elderberries.

          If not, you must decide if an author who wrote, edited, illustrated, arranged the printing and then published his own book is sufficiently 'handmade' according to the expectations of your customers.

          If I were in your shoes I think I would be more concerned about the feeling of being held to ransom than about the 'handmade or not handmade' question about the book.


          • #6
            To me, the book in this situation is not handmade. This person may have wrote it, but if someone else is illustrating and printing it, then it is not handmade. It's like designing a product then sending the design to a factory to get made. To be handmade, each copy would have to be written, illustrated and printed by the author.

            As for the holding you to ransom bit, that is just not acceptable. Try writing your own press release and sending that to the local papers. That will show this person that they can't force you to do anything.
            Website - Soy of the North
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            • #7
              Tricky question...I think there are (at least) two very separate issues is the handmade point and the other is the reliability/ransom issue of the person concerned.

              IMHO Writing is a is a creative process that takes skill, imagination and determination (not to mention blood, sweat and tears) so it could be said that a book that has not been taken up by mainstream publishers and it being promoted and sold by the author/maker is rather like a handmade product of any other type. Having an author selling, talking about, reading from and signing his/her own book can prove popular at a craft feeds into people's dreams and captures their imagination. Of course a lot depends on the type of book and the personality of the author in question...

              The other issue of reliability is more complex. If this guy has let you down before then I can understand your reluctance. Does he actually have any clout? Could you do as well without his help? Sometimes it pays to give a freebie to keep in the good books of someone who can help bring a little extra to the table...a little goodwill can go a long way. Then again if you get business support from the organisation he works for and it is his job to get publicity for your event then why would he get a freebie for doing his own job?

              Personally in situations like this I would go with my gut... I hope things work out and your event is a huge success.


              • #8
                I'm a complete novice when it comes to things like craft fairs but if its something that has bothered you enough (which it sounds like it has) then do you really want to be associated with someone like this?
                Why not approach your local papers yourself? Depending on what you sell, see if there's anyone there who falls into your target market and show them your work, ask if they'd be willing to do a feature maybe in exchange for a goody bag of handmade bits and free entry to the fair where they can do a follow up review of how the show goes. Everyone wants something for nothing nowadays but if you offer the incentive first you'll feel in control and everyone should go away happy.
                Just an idea
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                • #9
                  I have been to events before where they have had a writer but it is a gray area, what about emailing your crafters and ask for a simple yes, no or don't mind, problem with this is you don't want people dropping out.

                  Who publishes the book, the man I have seen before prints and publishes locally at a small family printers so I feel that this is still in the handmade bracket as they are small and set by hand not machine. If you go ahead get him to sign that he agrees to do the press release etc as part of him attending, then if he does not come up trumps you have turned the tables on him.

                  Also do not panic Jill and I were getting requests from crafters for stalls up to the last week in fact some after the event had been and gone! think a lot of epople wait until the last minute to book so they are not paying out money far in advance, trouble with that is organisers could end up canceling due to lack of interest but these are a sign of the times.


                  • #10
                    Some more good, varied opinions - thanks

                    I have no problem writing and issuing our own press release about the event (I used to write them as part of my last job), but when I did one a while ago my business partner got all funny and said she didn't think I should send it out, and that I should run it past the person we're now talking about and that he'd circulate it to his media contacts - I went along with her preference, and nothing came of it. Made me really angry.

                    I think I need to actually talk to him myself and find out what it is he thinks he's after, as it wasn't clear from my business partner whether he's expecting a freebie or whether he'll pay for a stall or what. Will give me something to work on.

                    Thanks everyone

                    Sarah Gail Designs
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                    • #11
                      Regardless of other peoples thought, I think you have answered your own question.
                      If you do not feel comfortable with it, then the answer has to be no.

                      You seem to have set out your rules and terms properly, so stick with it.
                      Ok you may lose some advertising for your event, or not, as time will tell.

                      I personally would ensure this chap paid for his stall, the same as anybody else. If part of his job is to provide you with business support, the costs of that should be covered by the organisation he works for, and which supports you.

                      Put it another way, how many other crafters would you give a free stall, in exchange for some of their products.



                      • #12
                        As a stallholder, I would be very miffed to find someone selling books at a handmade event, unless they were handmade books. A book that the stallholder has written and had printed by a company is not to my mind a handmade item.

                        As to his demands - what a creep! I would tell him to go forth, and would write my own press releases, contact all the local press and radio stations and promote the unique selling point of your event - truly handmade goods bought from the person who made it. In this mass produced world where everything seems to come from a factory in China, handmade items are really special. [I was going to say magical but that sounded soppy ]

                        I am a 'hobby crafter' and I have insurance - wouldn't dream of trading without it. So if your potential stallholders don't have it, and aren't willing to arrange it, that would ring alarm bells for me.

                        Have you put your event on Folksy & Misi? Lots of talented crafters on those sites who are desperate to find fairs to attend.
                        Pretty Things Handmade Jewellery

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                        • #13
                          Thanks everyone for your thoughts - they've given me a lot to think about!!

                          My gut tells me that the book isn't right for our event. But I am going to try to find out whether the person who wants to sell it is saying that he won't help with press contacts at all unless we let him have a stall, even though it is his job to help all their start up clients with that sort of thing, and if that's the crux of it, then I may well take it further, to his boss. The company he works for is quite strict about their staff not using their work positions to promote their own businesses, and that is precisely what I feel he is trying to do, but I have only had this third hand.

                          I'm also a bit resentful if the fact that my business partner is trying to push me into this, despite knowing I don't really think his product fits our bill, so I may well copy some of your responses into an email for her to see what other crafters think (anonymously, of course!).

                          Pretty Things - the fact that so many potential traders are being resistant to the need for insurance is something that has concerned me, but again, I am sticking to my guns. Whenever my BP has suggested we drop it, I have explained all the reasons why we shouldn't. And whenever I've had an email from someone saying "oh yes, I want a stall. But I don't have the insurance. I take it that won't be a problem" (even though I have gone to some lengths to explain that it's a requirement, and the reasons why on our booking form and website), I always email them back and explain why it's needed - that it's becoming an increasingly common requirement for lots of events, that it's not massively expensive when you work it out over the course of a year, that it can save you from all sorts of hassle if someone injures themselves on your stall, product or whatever, and that it can be included as a business expense in your accounts and tax return. The last point alone has opened up several other issues when I actually start talking to people!!!

                          I've even gone to the lengths of finding a company who offer public/product cover for one-off events, for the princely sum of £7.50 per event and emailing that info out to people. Even on top of our booking fee, it's a reasonable cost for a day's trading!!

                          I've started to write a blog post about how frustrating that whole part of the event organisation process has been (trying to keep it light-hearted and non-accusatory!) in the hope that some people who don't know about the legal side of things, or think it doesn't apply to them, will learn something.

                          Maybe it'll all pay off for next time! (if I can face doing it again!! )

                          Sarah Gail Designs
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                          Crafty Cat Events
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                          • #14
                            Hi Sarah

                            I wonder if the real issue here is whether you have the right business partner? If your visions about what you are seeking to achieve are so different, perhaps you would be better going it alone?

                            Good luck whatever you decide to do.


                            • #15
                              On the insurance note Jill and I had the same problem some took out insurance and some did not so did not get a stall, check your own event insurance as often you sign to agree that all exhibitors hold valid policies, ours did so if anyone has not got insurance it will invalidate your insurance as well. Very selfish of those that will not comply.

                              One lady had three business's but her response was she did not want to go down the insurance route!!!!