Craft Fairs are a way for local vendors to sell items they have made, and with the Yukon’s dark, cold winters, it is the perfect way to spend a few hours exploring what is on offer. The majority of these business owners are women, with a 30 per cent increase in women-owned businesses over the last decade.
My first craft fair as a seller …
It was a cold and dark Saturday morning as I prepared items for my first-ever craft fair at Jack Hulland Elementary School. As I set up my table at the Haunts & Holly Craft Fair, I noticed that everyone else had proper display cases and lighting. Meanwhile, my table cover was a fitted bed sheet!
I’m not normally a craft-fair seller, I’m usually an attendee spending all my money on all the things. But with my recent children’s book, I felt this was a great way to sell some books while getting to chat with people all day.
I was sitting next to “the bannock lady,” Grandma Treesaw, and she was selling before the fair had even officially opened. I thought to myself, What if I don’t sell anything!?
Then the first person showed up and wanted to buy my book. She pulled out a fifty-dollar bill. Fuck! I thought to myself. I hadn’t even thought about a cash float! “I’m so sorry I don’t have any change yet,” I admitted. “This is my first craft fair.” Instead, the lovely lady sent me an e-transfer. Phew!
The day continued and the people were never-ending. It was bustling with people. It really reminded me that even though Whitehorse is small, there are still a lot of people I don’t know.
All of a sudden it hit 2 p.m. and there was a lull, with an hour left. I suddenly felt ready to go home, but then a final burst of people came to buy more items.
Eventually it was closing time, so I packed up my table and went home. I walked to my bed, fully clothed, fell onto it and went to sleep.
Being on the other side of the craft fair gives me new respect for all of the incredible people that do this as a side hustle or a full-time business. All day, you are talking to people, selling and doing things. You may not sell anything; you may sell a lot. It’s unnerving!
When I was first looking to figure out craft fairs, some fantastic boss entrepreneurs in the Yukon made me feel welcome, supported and helped to guide me through the steps. Whether they are full-time or part-time, these women are in charge of their destinies, schedules and family times and are sharing their crafty, tasty passions. So I wanted to feature these incredible business owners.
Kimberly Guenard: owner of Whitehorse Woof Natural Dog Treats & Accessories
- Homemade dog and cat treats, doggy cakes and homemade accessories such as toys, bandanas and snuffle mats
First craft fair: Fireweed Community Market, May 2021
The experience: My first craft fair was amazing. The Fireweed manager, Sylvia, was very helpful, with all my questions, and assisted me on my first day. Also, I was given the opportunity to expose more of my products and business itself.
Why do people love craft fairs? Craft fairs are popular because a lot of artisan vendors really showcase their talents. And they go above and beyond.
What makes you want to run your own business? Definitely gives me more time with my son and him being home with me. I feel more secure. Also, at his young age he understood what I’m doing and what it’s for, and he is helping me. I love the fact that I do my own schedule.
Tips! Be consistent in what you do. Love what you do and have fun.
Amanda Ellacott: owner of The Northern Crochet Co.
- Handmade crocheted items: primarily toques and headbands, as well as stickers, earrings and select apparel
First Craft fair: It was about eight years ago, selling my crocheted items at a small mall in rural Alberta.
The Experience: The craft sale went really well and was definitely a learning curve. You really get to know what customers are looking for and new ways to set up your display.
Why do people love craft fairs? I love craft fairs … we get to buy local and support local vendors. I think this makes them a popular choice among the community. It’s important to know where the item you’re purchasing is coming from, how it’s made, and you get to meet the vendors and really understand why they do what they do.
What makes you run your own business? “My kids are a huge part of my decision to run my own business. We felt as though they weren’t thriving in a traditional school setting, so we made the leap into homeschooling and Aurora Virtual School (AVS). They absolutely love it and have come so far in just the last year and a half. Being home full-time with them, I am so much more hands-on and able to be here for them. Another huge part of deciding to work for myself is realizing how short life really is and [that] you have to do what you love.”
Tips! Keep organized! And [have] a nice, clean full table, avoiding clutter. Signage is super important to let everyone know who you and your business are. And have fun!
- Northern Crochet Co products are available through facebook and at Integra Tire.
Elena Joss: owner of Pretty, Neat Yukon
- Maker and seller of the famous Loca Roca (almond-butter-crunch candy), macarons and useful wood and fabric gifts from repurposed/reusable items.
First Craft Fair: In a tiny town in Alberta, in 2003
The Experience: I had quilted and sewn goods. I sold nothing and it was devastating! I had no idea what I was doing.
Why do people love craft fairs? We have a long winter up here, and I think it creates artists and crafters. There are so many amazing and talented people in the Yukon, and also very supportive customers. You are more likely to find unique, special and one-of-a-kind items at a craft fair that you cannot find anywhere else. We have a lot of environmentally conscious Yukoners who want to decrease their carbon footprint, as well as keep the money in local businesses versus giant corporations.
What makes you want to be your own boss? I run my handmade business to complement my full-time job, which is very policy based, rigid and cerebral. My handmade business allows me to be creative in my thought process and to also work with my hands in many mediums. I love to do woodwork, to sew and to bake challenging items like French macarons. Most of all, I like creating colourful, beautiful products that serve a purpose in one way or another.
Tips! Your display is very important. Items on a flat table aren’t very appealing, no matter how cool they are. You are selling your brand—your items as well as your personality and overall vibe. Don’t hide behind your phone or a book: stand up, make eye contact and smile. If you are introverted, bring an extroverted friend. Selling other people’s items is sometimes easier, as they are less emotionally invested. Price everything! Customers do not want to ask, in case it is out of their budget, and then it just gets awkward.
As well, there is a one-day Spruce Bog event at the Old Firehall, November 12.