Winter is Coming…

In the world of independent creative businesses Christmas is, unsurprisingly, the busiest time of the year. It’s a season geared towards spending and artists around the world are here to make sure that you have something unique, ethically sourced and individual to give to your loved ones. Each sale is appreciated, and although of course I am biased I would recommend that everyone make an effort to support small traders and support local businesses in their christmas shopping this year. In this post I want to talk about the perks and perils of the season and introduce some tips for coping with the most wonderfully manic time of the year.

Are you prepared?

For me, enquiries for bespoke christmas gifts started coming in in October. Just about the time I started on making a batch of a brand new product, ceramic Christmas decorations with a distinct “This Is Sian Ellis” vibe (more on those soon!). It was also when I started on my first fair appearances of the season and have begun to organise the two day extravaganza which is the Whirlow Hall Farm Christmas Fayre, which I will not just be running but exhibiting a stall at too (and I did the poster artwork, in for a penny, in for a pound!).

There’s a lot of pressure that comes for a small business at Christmas, fuelled not just by the frantic marketing of other businesses around us but by the knell of a quiet January (seriously, who makes any money in January?).

As this is my first Christmas as a trader I know I need to take it slowly. I haven’t approached any stockists this year, for example, and I have limited my fair appearances to 4 fairs over 5 days. I have not just a lot to learn, but a lot to do, in both of my jobs. Rather than rush into a Christmas unprepared and stressed I have taken the decision to spend that quiet January in preparation, including for Christmas 2019.

What I would advise is that all sellers, whether you are full time or part time, remember to take stock of their energy levels and general sanity this Christmas season too. Of course we are all grateful for a busy Christmas, and it’s what we dream of when we set up our businesses, but it shouldn’t reduce us to crumbled husks by the time it’s through.

Steps to a stress free traders Christmas

1) Are you still accepting commissions?

Do you need to be? Keep an eye on your work loads, commissions are the most time consuming of all and if you have enough lined up for the Christmas season and need to focus on selling your products perhaps this is something you can keep an eye on as to when your workload gets to a point you need to put this on hold.

2) Ask around.

There are a lot of markets and Christmas Fairs and so many are on conflicting dates, plus you need to make sure you have time for all the parts of your business that aren’t sales too. Try to make sure that you exhibit at the absolute best ones for you and your produce, find out from other makers about their experiences with fairs you are unfamiliar with. A day at a dud fair can be time and money that you can’t afford to lose this time of year.

3) What are your January plans?

What can you be doing in your quiet months to prepare for this time of year? Can you work on your Christmas 2019 stock, your look book? How about in the months running up to your busiest period try and encourage or incentivise your fans to approach you for Christmas commissions early.

Whatever you choose to do, I hope you have a great Christmas season 2018!