Episode 118 - Navigating Craft and Art Shows with Ashley Reagan
Ashley Reagan chats with us about how she finds and chooses which shows to sell her paper flowers and other art at. Learn how to choose the right audience and diversify your income.
As this pandemic has stretched on, paper florists and artists like us have had to become more flexible than ever before.
Revenue streams that we relied on have dried up. Guessing what events will look like in a month’s time feels as accurate as guessing what they’ll be like in fifty years.
Now more than ever, we have to diversify our income so that whatever happens in a week, month, or year, we will have something to rely on.
In our latest episode of Paper Talk, we chatted with Ashley Reagan of ibleedheART about how she has diversified how she sells her art—including the things she tried that are definitely not for her. Listen now to hear our discussion about the many different ways you can earn income from paper flowers, and how you can choose which ones are true to your why.
If you’re interested in selling at craft and art shows, you need to hear Ashley’s advice on navigating how to find, choose, and evaluate which shows are right for you. Her expertise in this area is really fantastic. Here’s a little taste of what you’ll learn with three things you should look for when researching shows.
Here’s what you’ll learn when you listen to our conversation:
► How Ashley finds and chooses which shows to sell at.
►Why having different sources of income is so important.
► How to pick the right audience to sell your paper flowers.
►What happened to the white lily installation from the Tulsa Massacre Memorial.
Choose the Right Audience
Different art or craft shows attract different audiences. Ashley spoke about why she felt her paper flowers didn’t do well in certain venues, and it boils down to the audience.
What are their expectations for this event? Did they come here planning on buying bespoke, slightly expensive, handmade goods? Or are they looking for a bargain?
“Paper flowers became a way to honor my granddad, because he was an avid gardener. He loved gardening. He would always tell me which flowers we were passing wherever we were. So one of the first flowers that I created from my own template was a marigold because he always grew marigolds in his garden.” - Ashley
This doesn’t mean that you can only sell at shows specifically catering to your specialty. As Quynh pointed out on the podcast, our past guest Stephen Brooks quickly sells out of paper peonies at a show mostly focused on fresh peonies. Interest in your work can come from adjacent industries. It might take some trial and error to figure out which ones, but if you pay attention, you can start to better anticipate which audiences will be more receptive to your paper flowers.
Look at Past Marketing
If Ashley finds a show that she might be interested in, she looks for their home on the internet. Search for websites, Facebook pages, or news articles that mention it. You can see how the show has been marketed in the past, and that will let you know how it will probably be advertised in the future.
Marketing a show is essential to your success. More eyes walking past your booth means more potential sales. Good marketing will also reach the people who are most likely to be enthusiastic about your art. Marketing should not be the artists’ responsibility. The event coordinator should be spreading the word.
Researching all of this is easier if the art or craft show has been held in the past. If it’s a new event, you will probably have less marketing information to work with. Their current internet presence will hopefully give you a small glimpse into how they plan to present the show in their marketing materials and how they will go about reaching the right audience.
Research the Event Coordinator
As Ashley shared in the episode, the event coordinator makes or breaks how successful a show will be. The coordinator is responsible for planning and marketing the show.
We touched on why marketing is important, but keep in mind the organization piece as well. A well-organized event is going to run smoother. You won’t waste time figuring out answers to questions that should have already been answered. You won’t waste time problem solving issues that arise because things weren’t planned out well in advance.
“The lilies made such an impact…Sometimes we think about why do we do this? It must be for something greater than ourselves. Why do we make paper flowers? If anything, one little act can create such an impact on someone else’s life. I don’t know about you, but isn’t that powerful?” - Jessie
Do as much research as you can on coordinators you aren’t familiar with. Chat with friends or colleagues who know them. Reach out to them with questions to get a feel for whether or not they’re on top of their game.
In the end, you will have to take a leap of faith when it comes to trying out new craft or art shows, but these tips will steer you in the right direction. Also, be sure to listen to the episode to hear how Ashley sets herself up for success at the shows and how she systematically evaluates the events afterward to continually improve her experience at shows.
Also, here's the PDF format for THE WHY WORKSHEET that you can download for free.
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ABOUT Ashley Reagan:
Ashley Reagan of ibleedheART is inspired by nature and creates feather and butterfly wing jewelry from embroidery thread, crepe paper flowers and plants, and hobbit door shelf sitters. She started making earrings after wearing real feather earrings and trying to find a solution to not have to readjust the earrings in the Oklahoma wind, so she came up with a method that still had the look of a feather, but had just enough weight to stay put on its own, but still be very light weight. Crepe paper flowers came along several years later as a way to honor her Granddad's love for gardening and realizing the green thumb wasn't passed down to her. Proceeds from each hobbit door sale goes towards one day building a human sized hobbit house to live in and one to rent out!
Learn more about Ashley Reagan by following her on social media:
ONLINE STORE: www.etsy.com/shop/ibleedheart
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