Sunday, 5 January 2014

Beads Wonderful Beads

My Etsy store stemmed from an addiction to beads and a need to do something with them. Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you want to look at it, this opened the door to a lot more beads!

For any other jewellery makers out there, I thought I would do a post on the best jewellery making supply shops I have found to date on Etsy and why. These are my top ten, in no particular order.

Mountain Shadow Beads

Price range: £0.65 - £6.48
Sales:  100489
Star Rating (from Etsy reviews): 5*

This shop mainly sells small beads, a lot of Czech glass beads, and no gemstones etc. The reason it is part of my top ten is it is the best seller I have found for toho seed beads. Some of my faves below:


These seed beads are currently £0.88 for a 2.5" tube so pretty decently priced and the store has a massive array of colours.

Here's a couple of the bracelets I have recently made with them:

Breathtaking Beadzz

Price range: £0.47 - £36.48
Sales:  47630
Star Rating (from Etsy reviews): 5*

This store is a new one for me and whilst the seller sells all kinds of findings and beads, the reason this shop is in my top ten is because it is the first time I found some decent coloured bronze chain, jump rings, clasps and head pins that don't look too tacky / cheap. Here's what I bought:

Five Sisters

Price range: £0.94 - £4.69
Sales:  58668
Star Rating (from Etsy reviews): 5*

This shop makes my top ten simply because the beads are so pretty! Very nice photography too and all the beads are just a little bit different than the standard. Some of my top pics of what they are currently selling:

Price range: £0.44 - £68.00
Sales:  19124
Star Rating (from Etsy reviews): 5*

This store sells so many different types of thing its ridiculous. As you can probably tell from the price range it sells everything from silver plated findings to gemstone beads. My latest purchase from this store was gorgeous glass bell jars containing dried flowers which I made into these pendant necklaces:

Click here to see the purple flower listing and here to see the pink flower listing.

Price range: £0.63 - £71.00
Sales:  31467
Star Rating (from Etsy reviews): 5*

This is probably the store on Etsy I have made most purchases from. Until very recently, when they changed the item, this was where I bought all my chain from, both gold and silver (I don't recommend the chain they are currently selling, it doesn't look as good as previously) and it is still where I buy all my clasps and jump rings from. But my favourite items from this store are the pendants. I love them! Here are some of the pendants and what I have done with them:

Click here for the item listing and here for the necklace listing

Click here for the item listing and here for the necklace listing

Gypsy Bead Peddler

Price range: £0.63 - £12.41
Sales:  6035
Star Rating (from Etsy reviews): 5*

I have been looking for the below item everywhere, and this item is where I found it! I want to make some new wrap bracelets making this - watch this space!

Click here to get this item for yourself!

Price range: £1.09 - £14.35
Sales:  38504
Star Rating (from Etsy reviews): 5*

This store is slightly more pricey than some of the others but you get what you pay for - these are good quality beads and not your standard beads to be found everywhere. In fact the store owner describes the shop as selling 'Uncommon vintage beads and findings'.

I bought these recently which I love...

Some other items in store now I have my eye on are these:

Price range: £1.25 - £2.50
Sales:  6
Star Rating (from Etsy reviews): 5*

So this store only has 6 sales and two of them are from me! So a bit different from the stores above. This store only ever tends to have around 6 items for sale, all of which are very cute little glass jars with fimo clay goodies inside which you can make into lovely pendant necklaces, as I have below:

Click here for the item listing and here for the pendant listing.

RedRingKet -

Price range: £1.22 - £10.95
Sales: 223
Star Rating (from Etsy reviews): 5*

Whilst this store does have more than 6 sales, it is another store that isn't quite as established as some of the other shops above but I have no idea why. Here's what I bought recently:

So that's it. Think that might have been 9 rather than 10 but never mind. I hope you find this useful & happy shopping!!


Saturday, 4 January 2014

Craft Fairs: What I found

Towards the end of November I wrote a blog post:

The blog post consolidated all the research I had done before I embarked upon my first craft fair.

After writing I attended two different craft fairs in Surrey, one in Oxted and one in Teddington.

The pictures in this blog are from my stand at the fair in Oxted (any comments on your thoughts much appreciated!)

So having written a blog post on craft fairs prior to actually having done any (!) I thought I would do a follow up post on how I got on.

Its safe to say that my experience was mixed! I'll start with my first impressions of each. Oxted was the first fair I did. It was in a room above a local library off the main road. The room was incredibly small, slightly larger than my small sitting room, and there were only 8 stalls maximum. Just from walking in, with no experience of any craft fairs at all, I really wasn't sure. The fair in Teddington was much larger, in a place called Elleray Hall, probably with about 30 stalls. There was a woman running around allocating people tables, getting people coffees and handing out Christmas hats. This fair also had its own website, which the first one hadn't. First impressions of this fair were actually really quite good - I had a good feeling.

Well, first impressions aren't always right. The fair in Oxted got natural footfall from the library beneath it, and whilst it was a little bit off the main road, as was the Teddington fair, there was a big sign on the turning to the road and a few others on the high street. The woman running it had also advertised it in several other ways in the run up to the fair. There was consequently a steady stream of people for most of the day, with a bit of a lull for lunch and the end time had been judged well. I sold enough to make a small profit after taking into account stall fee, all the bits and pieces I bought to decorate my stall, and the materials used to make my jewellery. I also handed out about 50 flyers with my Etsy store address as well as my social links with a discount code.

The Teddington fair did not run as well. It was also off the main road however there was no sign post telling people it was on. Moreover it did not appear that the woman running the fair had done anything much to promote it, other having a website which could do with updating. A slight trickle of people came in through out the day, but if I was to average it out I would guess and 1 person per 20 minutes. Whilst I was the only jewellery seller at the first fair, I was one of about four at this one too and because I was towards the back, anyone coming in would see all the other jewellery sellers first. I did make some sales, but only enough to cover half the stall fee so I came out worse than I came in. I wasn't the only one to feel this way and several other stall owners, complete strangers, came over to introduce themselves and to complain.

The main obstacle I came up against when I decided to do some Christmas craft fairs was time. I had decided to do it too late. The best craft fairs get booked up months in advance (in fact the Oxted one I got because someone else had dropped out) so my main advice would be to think ahead. Secondly, in-line with the above, make sure you check out websites and don't be too shy to ask how they advertise themselves before you book - this could save you valuable time and money.

Based on this I have decided to try again this year, but with a bit more forethought! I have booked myself into three fairs, ahead of time, which (fingers crossed) look good and I will report back again.

The fairs I am going to be at are:

I Made This - Crafts & Food Fair - February 15th
10am - 4pm
Ripley Village Hall
High Street Ripley
Portsmouth Road
GU23 6AF

Tattenhams Indoor Market - May 3rd
10am - 2pm
The United Church of St Mark
St Marks Road
Epsom Downs
KT18 5RD

Shopfest Market - May 18th
11am - 4pm
Denbies Wine Estate
London Road

Frederica Dixon

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Craft Fairs: How To

I have been trying to think of ways to capitalise on the time of year. Surely there must be a way to get my jewellery out there as fairly priced, handmade, thoughtful gifts for Christmas?

So, having never done a craft fair before, I have decided I am going to try and do at least one, but hopefully around three, over the next few weekends. Craft fairs at this time of year would be a great way to demonstrate my wares as perfect Christmas gifts and the promotion would be done for me by the event organiser so I wouldn't be hindered, as you can be online, by no one knowing my brand.

But as I said, I've never done one before. So I started out trying to answer a few simple questions: how do I find craft fairs in my area, how much do they cost, how do you know if it's a decent fair? In the process of finding the answers to these questions however, about a 100 more opened up as I read more and more about craft fairs - there is a LOT of information out there, and there is a lot more to think about craft fairs than I thought.

So I thought I would do a blog post summarising everything I have learnt, finishing up in a little checklist. Hopefully the process will be helpful for anyone else thinking of doing one, as well as consolidating everything for myself.

How do you find craft fairs in your area:

Obviously - Google shouldn't be dismissed - you are always going to pick up things here that might not be in other places. However, the best two websites I have found are these: - This is the site I would recommend you would start at, it seems to cover the whole of the UK and you can filter by event type to find the best one for your type of product. – Obviously, this one will only be relevant to some of you, as you can tell from the name, it’s for fairs based in surrey, but I would assume it is easy enough to find similar sites for your own area.

Choosing a fair:

Apart from reading information on websites and blogs, I set up a few discussions in the forums and teams across Etsy, asking for advice. One of the main things that has come up is “you’re a bit late!” Basically, some craft fairs are better than others. (I do get the sense that this seems to be more true in the US than the UK but time I’m sure time will prove me wrong). Because of this, the best ones get booked first – so thinking about doing craft fairs ahead of time, unlike what I am doing, is key! Many also suggest that you go and visit the fairs before applying for a store there so you can get a true feel for the fair before you commit – again as I have come in rather late, I will need to skip this step. But, if you are thinking about doing craft fairs, and don’t have this kind of time, there are things you can ask, and shouldn’t be afraid /embarrassed of asking, before you purchase stall space. Ask how many stalls there are, how many visitors they get, what the price of entrance to the fairs is, how well marketed it is, what variety of stalls there are (I have been warned I am likely to be up against a lot of other jewellery stands). These questions should hopefully give you a bit of a sense of whether it’s the right fair for you. Cost of your stand is also important, work out how many pieces you would have to sell to break even, and whether it is worth it. I have been told £25 is the maximum I should go for in the UK as a guide.


Marketing of the fair itself is done by the hosts (ideal) however, it is always going to be worth letting your twitter and Facebook followers you are going to be there – especially if you do not have a bricks and mortar stall, as it is a rare chance for them to actually see the pieces before they buy. I’m thinking I might let family and friends know too – they might tell others etc.
More importantly in this section however is not to forget than the fair is a marketing opportunity for you, rather than just a selling opportunity. Bring business cards and flyers! Many people may not buy there and then, but if you give them a flyer, perhaps with an online discount, they are less likely to forget you and more likely to buy later. Pictures will be important so they can remember which stall the flyer came from. I am going to have a stack sitting on the table. But I also intend to load up each of the bags at the ready with a flyer inside – if someone has liked your items enough to buy them, they might recommend you to someone else, or buy more pieces at a later date. But they can’t if they don’t know who you are and what your website address is.

You may want to consider having a form for filling in email addresses to start up a mailing list (or add to an existing one). Entering everyone who supplies their address into a prize drawer for a small gift should increase the number of people willing to supply this.


Without properly thinking about it, you may end up showing up to a show with your products (obviously important!) and nothing else. Make sure you ask the host exactly what they supply. I believe the standard is a table and nothing else, but apparently at some fairs you must also supply your own tables! In the case of having a table and nothing else, here is a bit of a checklist of other items to consider:

-          Table cloth
-          Stall decorations
-          Banner/Stall Name sign
-          Lunch/snacks
-          Change
-          Lockable money tin
-          Folding chair
-          Price Tags/ Price List
-          Marketing materials
-          Paper / plastic bags – potentially gift wrapping materials also
-          Receipt book – someone may ask, you don’t want it to be a barrier to a sale
-          Stationary – pens, tape, paper etc.
-          Tool kit – I’m going to take jewellery pliers etc. this will depend on your product
-          Bag for rubbish


Make sure you have some kind of pricing system where the customer doesn’t have to ask you for the price – this is an easy way to lose a sale as many people do not want to ask. Either put price tags on everything or have price lists saying for example, all bracelets £4. Make sure your pricing at fairs is all round numbers – this will save unnecessary need for excess change.


Many of you, like me, will not have a card reader knocking about to take along. But not accepting cards could be a real barrier to a sale. With the birth of iPhones and other smartphones however, they are apparently a wealth of apps you can install to turn your phone into a device which will accept card payments – I am going to have a hunt for one this afternoon.


You will be competing against a variety of other stalls, potentially a number selling the same items of you. You need to ensure that your stall is enticing enough for people to come over. Some tips I have found:

  • Whilst you don’t want your stall to be over-crowded, empty spaces are the enemy. Make sure you    have a full stall
  •   Make sure you bring a sign, and that is clear to see
  • Elevate your items – A flat display is not appealing and also, if you have a crowd, anyone new passing by will not be able to see anything at all, whether they are interested or not. People use boxes, mini display stands etc.
  • Dress well – You sell your brand so don’t turn up in tracksuit bottoms
So I hope this is helpful for anyone else thinking of doing craft fairs – wish me luck for mine!