Monday, March 16, 2015

It's a Sign

Hey Y'all! Happy March!  We just got a featured Post on Crafty Affaire Market's Facebook Page for our totally awesome banner!  Woo!

Remember this bad boy?

This is the new sign we made for our booth.  We really loved our old sign-it was coral, it was bunting, it was....hard to read.  Well that's what people told us. Oh, and their necks craned like puppies looking at a treat while they tried to read it. So we knew we had to change it!

We loved it and it fit our brand image but people couldn't read it, it was hard to hang up, and it got a bit washed out on a white background.  Sadly, our banner wasn't working.  

That's a hard thing to hear as a business owner;  that customers don't love something you made and that represents you  :(   So much work and effort went into creating this banner, it was hard to give up.  It IS important to remember that if it's not working, we have to let it go.

We took this situation and turned it into an opportunity for us to revamp our booth and sign!  

Firstly, we thought about how we wanted to be represented.  I'd recently had custom stamps made to use on my bags and tags so we chose to echo the look of the tags on our banner (BRAND CONSISTENCY!)  And we used the same font and same cameo silhouette logo.

We considered ordering a banner, but to keep costs low and have ultimate control over the final outcome we chose to make it ourselves.  Everyone's had that moment where you design something, send it to the printers and it never turns out the way you wanted :( We used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out a template for the letters and lined it up on the fabric.   For full details of how to make your own banner, check out Jill's post.

We attend shows that use both black and white pipe and drape, so we wanted something that would stand out on either colour.  Black fabric with white paint was a bold choice.  We chose classic colours with a lot of contrast.   This way if we ever chose to change our colours we wouldn't have to make a new sign.  We decided to edge the banner with some burlap ribbon so that it would stand out on black draping.

We made the sign about 6 feet long and 2 feet wide.  This gave us enough room to make the letters readable and to fill up the back of our booth. I know a lot of people put their banner on the front of their table, which I kindly advise against (if you have an option). It's too low to read.  People will have to back away from your booth/table to read it...and well, then they're far away from your goodies. If the show is really busy, there will always be people in front of it, and people just won't know who you are.

Due to not having a back wall, we had to hang our banner in front (less than ideal!)

Another key thing to remember when making your sign - think about how you'll hang it.  If we were to do it again, we might consider adding a couple of grommets to give it more durability when hanging.  

Remember our coral bunting sign?  Can you find it in the last picture with the sign on the back?  Yup!  We turned it around and used it for an extra pop of colour in our booth...and it gave us a NEW idea for our booth next year.  My booth design is constantly evolving, but I know this sign is here to stay.  It's bold.  It tells everyone who I am.  It associates a font and logo with my business (and then I use the same font and logo EVERYWHERE! Brand consistency and image.)

We hope this helps you with your branding and booth planning.  For more tips on how to make your booth its best, check out this post!    
We'd love to know which tip was most helpful for you! Leave us a comment and feel free to link to pics of your booth so we can ooh and aah!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Happy New Year

Hi Everyone!  I know it's  been a while since we've been active over here on the blog, but we had a SUPER busy and very successful fall market season.  "Thank you" will never really be enough to show our gratitude to all our crafty friends and awesome customers who are out there staying #prettyandwarm!

First things first.  The other day on Facebook, I posted a bit of a cryptic message about 2015 and how some unexpected challenges have already popped up.  I'm taking today to share exactly what I meant, set the record straight and just fill everybody in on what's happening with West Coast Leslie Designs.

The big news is that Tyler (my husband) has accepted a job with the Ministry of Transportation!!! So super exciting! He starts MONDAY (January 19th).  The flip side of the coin is that the job is based out of Kamloops, a city about 355 km away from our house. This is not the ideal situation, obviously.  But it's the reality.  My "day" job, being a dance teacher, keeps me in the Lower Mainland until June, because I can't just up and walk away from my students-that's not really how I roll.  What happens after June is still in the air.  And if I'm being perfectly honest, I don't know if we'll know what to do by the summer; I mean it's only 6 months away and that time is going to fly by!  But this exciting, new, awesome adventure for Ty makes me stop and re-evaluate West Coast Leslie Designs.  So while I had BIG plans for 2015, I may have to step back a bit and figure things out as we go :)

Here's what I do know, and I hope you can get excited for;

1). More frequent and scheduled blog posting.  Jill & I really want to interact with our fans, customers and friends!  We want to help you out from knowing how to care for your WCLD garments to helping you succeed with your business (handmade or otherwise).  We'll be offering some awesome info on the blog in 2015, so follow us and never miss a post! BlogLovin' is an easy way to follow the blogs you love :)

2). Community building.  What I took away from 2014 is that I LOVE THE HANDMADE community!  And I want to hang with you ALL. THE. TIME. We're on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and our blog, website and newsletters.  But you know what?  We don't post the same stuff on every social media outlet.  That's boring, and overkill if you follow us on more than one platform.  Here's what you'll find on each social media feed.  Pic your favourite and follow us :)
Facebook is where we want to hang out with you-our friends, the community at large.  It's the best place for us to get your feedback and find out what YOU want.  We also link our blog posts to Facebook! Oh and we like to have contests, giveaways and SALES on Facebook!

Instagram is where you'll find a blend of my personal and business pics.  It's an insiders look at how things get made, works in progress, my day to day life and general goofiness.  I LOVE Instagram and hope you'll hop over and follow me for all the fun!

We're using Twitter a little more formally.  If you want to know where we'll be, what craft markets we're checking out, and who we're following, follow us on Twitter.
And lastly, in 2015 we're recommitting to our Blog "Try To Keep Up".  More pics, more posts, more everything!

3). Online sales.  While we'll still be working markets, we're going to ramp up our online store and open up to more custom orders.  So please, check out our Storenvy shop or shoot us an email.  We want to make online shopping easy and convenient for you!  Because some days it's literally too cold to leave your house to buy a scarf! LOL

4). Teacher at Heart.  That's me.  To a T.  From an early age I've always known I wanted to be a teacher.  Writing on chalk boards, leading others, encouraging people to learn and love learning!  So I've created a sales course to help other amazing handmade peeps sell their products.  I want others in the handmade world to be profitable and have fun doing it (without feeling like a scum bag, and keeping your brand and personality intact) so keep your eyes peeled this summer for this awesome learning opportunity!  I promise you'll learn SO much and it will really help you gear up for the holiday market season!

Ok so that's long enough!  I want to thank everyone who's been along for the ride with us.  We are continually learning, and evolving and trying things out, so thank you for sticking with us and inspiring us.  We are super excited for 2015 and hope you are too!

Monday, September 22, 2014

When is a Scarf not a Scarf?

Don't get me wrong.  I love scarves.  Infinity scarves in particular.  They're all I make.  I think everybody looks good in an infinity scarf AND no pesky ends hanging around.  I never know what to so with those ends-do you?   Anyways, I like things to be functional and versatile, while still ensuring I look cute doing it.  I mean if you can check all those boxes, I think you've got a winner.
Today, I wanted to show you all the different ways you can wear a West Coast Leslie infinity scarf!

Depending on the length, you can wear it long-like a statement necklace.  Works great with a casual white tee shirt and jeans.

Most of the scarves I make are super long and wide.  Making them a perfect make-shift hood.  Especially in Vancouver, when you never know when it's going to rain.  It's also good for keeping your hair style in tact.

In a lot of places fall weather changes every 5 minutes. Often it's not cool enough to wear a full jacket, but you can't go walking around in a t-shirt?!  That's when you can turn your scarf into a vest!

And my personal favourite, just a classic, double wrapped around the neck.  Whether you like a bit more hang or more of a cowl feel, up around your ears, there's nothing that beats the cozy feeling of your favourite scarf.

Which is your favourite way to wear your scarf?
Leave me a comment and let me know!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Craft Sale Tips - Your Booth

Hi all you West Coast Leslie readers! I'm Jill, Leslie's little sister and I thought I would take over Leslie's blog today to start sharing some of tips and tricks we learned last year doing our first craft sale. 

(That's me!)

Even though it's summertime, we're busy gearing up for this year's fall, winter, and holiday markets!  Last year we did one big planned show (Crafty Affaire), and then a couple more later that happened to just come up.  This year our plans are bigger and better than last year.  

I figured that we're probably not the only ones that are thinking about this right now, and I definitely have some tips from experience that I haven't really seen anywhere else in my research.  Ready? Let's go!

Plan your product line - Pick a few main items!!!
The very first craft sale I did on my own was a few years back now and it was a bust for a couple reasons - one, it just wasn't the right crowd, most people weren't interested in buying (more show research might have helped here) but two - I was selling a bunch of different items.  People are easily overwhelmed.  Your product should draw them into your booth.  From a distance your customer should be able to see what you're selling.  You will make more sales like this and it will make your life easier! 

Here's what my booth looked like for that show:

Here's the booth Leslie and I set up last year:
Even with the pinky instagram filter you can easily see that the WCLD booth is much more coherent than my Envirocraftiness booth.  

Pre-plan your display
Know how much space you're working with, what display items you want, and where your product is going to be.  Set it up at home and then take photos so that 
a) you can use them when applying for shows (if required) and 
b) if you have family or friends helping you set up it's a good reference for them to know how to help.  

Will your booth look identical to your photos? Probably not, but that's okay! 

Here's Leslie's at home set up of her booth
Throughout the show you might need to move product based on what's selling or not selling.  Don't be afraid to deviate from your plan! 

When planning your display, here's a few things we like to keep in mind:

1) Does it look too perfect? You want people to touch and interact with your product.  If you can get people to pick up, feel, try on your product, you're much closer to making that sale! (more on that in the next post about sales!) It should be accessible.  Customers shouldn't have to wait for you to get something down for them to look at - some people WILL NEVER ask, and you just lost a potential sale.

2) Is all that really necessary?  Obviously you want to show off your product in the best way.  However depending on the length of show, the size of your booth, and what your product is, an elaborate setup may not be worth it.  I would  personally not be the vendor hauling a dresser to a show that's less than 16 hours, and even then, I'm not sure this would be my best strategy!!  Leslie and I have revamped this year's booth to include wine crates which both create depth and dimension, still allowing us to show off the product (you don't want your display to outshine what you're selling), and as a bonus, we can pack product in them.   Same goes for the trunk Leslie found, I foresee that being a great way to store additional inventory! 

Avoid clutter.  People get overwhelmed easily.  If you're not able to put all your merchandise out make sure you're familiar with your inventory so that you can grab it when a customer can't quite find what they want. 

What works to display jewelry is not going to work for big crocheted scarves, or handmade soap.  Look for ideas from people who sell similar or similar SIZED items as you.  ie what works for baking might also work well for selling soap!  

3) Does your customer know what you're selling?  This may sound obvious, but we were at a market where this one vendor had a phenomenal set up, but, we asked each other "do you know what she's selling?" 

4) Is your design appropriate for you product? This one has two meanings.  First you want your booth to represent your brand.  You want your colors and logo to stand out.  One mistake we made was that people struggled to read our "West Coast Leslie Designs" banner - we'll be revamping this for sure!  While we wanted that cute bunting banner which matches our brand image, it caused confusion and could better represent the WCLD brand.   
Secondly, the branding of your business should match the product you sell.  For instance, a booth across from us sold dog treats.  Here's a pic of their setup:
Simple, clean, and you can see the product and price list right out front, and they have a great visually attractive and self explanatory sign right there!  PS. These guys from Sparky Snacks were some of the awesome people we became friends with at the show! 

Now think of how it would look if they had a crafty vintage setup like our WCLD booth...weird right?  Make sure your design matches what you're selling.

5) Don't forget that YOU are part of your display!
Don't have so much "display" that there's no room for you.  Don't sit behind a table piled high with product.  Make sure you have ample room to move around, access your product and are available and approachable to help customers.  Wherever possible, wear your product (if it's wearable!)...and this leads me into my favorite selling tip:

Before I tell you what my FAVORITE selling tip is I want to give you a sneak peek at what's coming up:

Updated West Coast Leslie Designs booth - see how we've revamped our booth for 2014 and applied these tips

Leslie and Jill's best tips to selling like pros and making your sale fun and profitable! 

Alright, now here's what you've been waiting for.... one of my favorite sales tips of the weekend:
Be a walking model.  Wear sellable items and DO sell the shirt off your back (or scarf around your neck, as the case may be).  Often people were drawn to the scarf I was wearing, they can see how to wear it, how it fits, how it works with your coloring, etc.  If they express ANY interest in the piece you're wearing, take it off, offer it to them to touch, try on, etc.  This works for some people, but not for others.  If the customer feels awkward about buying "your" item.  Casually put it down on the table and keep helping them.  Once the scarf is on the table, BOOM! it's back to being part of the merchandise and it's not longer a weird "personal issue."  Chances are they will buy it.  

A big part of being successful with this technique is to look well groomed.  Obviously for your show you want to look good, but if you notice, all the pics of me I'm wearing my hair up.  I shed like MAD! Nothing is ickier than stray hairs on things you want to buy.  So in order to sell the scarf I was wearing, it definitely helped to be well groomed and not be overly scented (good or otherwise)!

I'm headed out to Vancouver to hang with Leslie and work on our fall strategy towards the middle of the month, definitely be sure to come back and check out our progress and great tips to make your sale more successful too!

What have you found works for you when designing your booth? What ideas have flopped? Share with us in the comments!