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Firefly 2022 Debrief

Before I start, I cannot overstate the applicability of all of this info to my specific shop and my specific niche/price point. Things that worked for me as a sticker seller may not work for someone selling fine jewelry or handmade pieces. Keep that in mind when considering if these sort of events are worth it for you. 
**NOTE: all numbers are based on POS transactions only and exclude venmo and cash sales.
OSL = Outside Lands (debrief available HERE)
FF = Firefly Music Festival
Check out my craft show fundamentals HERE

MY RELATED COSTS

  • Flights (2 people*) & baggage fees**: $1,240
  • Hotel (night before load in): $130
  • Rental car & gas: $950
  • Meals & Misc (4 people): $1,254
  • Required insurance: $90

* One friend and I flew from CA to DE, the other two lived driving distance to the festival.
** it was far cheaper to fly with my stuff than it would have been to ship it.

While this increase in price feels sort of arbitrary, it is important to consider that my costs to get everything across the country are obviously much more than it cost me to get everything across town (OSL was local for me, FF is in Delaware). All of that needs to be worked in to your pricing to make it worthwhile for you. And most customers are super understanding of that!

WHAT WORKED

  •  Freebies for followers - Offering a "free gift" If people followed me on Instagram was a HUGE hit. This worked much better than just handing out cards like In the past. The first day I had keychains made from old acrylic pieces. Once those ran out, we offered temporary tattoos that I had originally brought for us. We used a water bottle and paper towels to make a "tattoo parlor". People loved it.
  •  $50 Fancy Lighters - I know that price point sounds INSANE, but people paid it! It was a big boost of confidence to have something I made with my own two hands sell for that price point also! This price point also better matched the quantity I had available (I would have sold out too quickly at a lower price point - like I did at OSL)
  • Sweatshirts - People never come prepared for the frigid nighttime weather. The official Firefly merch tent sold out of sweatshirts on the second day. I will definitely prioritize sweatshirts next year!
  • Having a full team - This year I was able to bring 3 other people to help me and we made a schedule that included breaks (that my friends forced me to take). To help with the long days, 2 people would go in early every day (to tidy up and open up) and then those 2 people would go back to camp to sleep while the other 2 stayed longer to close up shop.

WHAT DIDN'T WORK

  • NOT living and dying by the checklist - I only brought 5 "ambitchous" necklaces. FIVE! And they sold out fast. The checklist exists for a reason folks! 
  • The Lineup - This year was odd. It turns out My Chemical Romance and Dua Lipa don't have a huge overlap in fanbase. Attendance was lower than we all anticipated (enough so that the festival is taking 2023 off). I do think the MCR crowd brought new customers that I wouldn't ordinarily really appeal to and I think they are the reason I sold so many pins (just a hunch)
  • Camping - This year they moved vendor camping to be across the highway from the main festival grounds. We had to walk just under a mile to and from our campsite and had the sweet sounds of semis honking by to lull us to sleep. Last year wasn't *so* bad so I thought we could handle it again. Next time I will be getting a hotel. And taking more showers.
  • Storm Evacuations - One reason that sales were lower than anticipated was the storm evacuations on Sunday. They cleared the entire festival grounds mid-day and let everyone back in about 2 hours later, but here's the thing: some people left after this evacuation as they had already seen whoever they wanted, and this was a huge reset for barrier campers (way more people ran to and stayed at the barriers when we were let back in as Charli XCX and Dua Lipa were the last 2 of the 4 main stage performances left)

??? Things

  • While sales were great (I'm never ever going to complain about a $25k weekend) I really expected to do better this year. I had more than twice as many items as I had the prior year, both in the form of new designs on staple products as well as entirely new product lines. I *should* have been doing NUMBERS. I'm not really one for goal-making, but I was pretty confident we would be able to do $40k in sales considering all of the new products, brand awareness, and overall preparedness we felt for our second round. 
  • Many of my peers barely broke even - I know, it shocked me too. I know I have found a not-so-secret recipe with my price point and product offerings at these events, but I knew that it couldn't be the ONLY option for success, right? RIGHT?!? There was one large issue I had about the vendor area at Firefly specifically: handmade artisans were placed right beside businesses that travel from festival to festival selling imported jewelry for $10 a piece. I'm not trying to poo poo on these vendors - they are just trying to thrive in this capitalist hellscape like the rest of us and the customer base deserves to have a range of price points to shop. But you severely cuck the ability of the smaller businesses to make money on the pieces that they spent their time conceptualizing, planning, and even creating by hand when you plop them right across from someone offering the same genre of product for 1/10 of the cost. I also don't *love* that it always seems to be white guys running the booths selling mass-imported tapestries and other cultural wares, but that's a whole other conversation...

REMEMBER TO BE A CONTENT DEMON !!!!!
Feel awkward asking if you can take a photo of someone? Girlie pie you better get over that FAST (which practice will do). Most people love feeling special and will gladly let you take their picture (and remember to shoot in "live photo" mode so you can easily turn any pic into a video!!!) These events are INSANE opportunities to get content that *looks* like it is user-generated, but that you have full control of. Get into it!!! Gas up your customer! Get sick angles! Ask them to pose with products that go with their outfits! Being the maker gives you a LOT of room to be super extra and cringe. Embrace it and milk that shit. I also recommend creating a shared album with all of the people working the event with you to dump it all in there. You will be creating tiktoks for MONTHS with all of the little clips. Oh and don't forget to have someone take your photo behind your booth!!!!! Don't do it!

YOUR QUESTIONS

"How did you promote your freebies for follower gifts?" - @pagespeaches

I had little signs around my booth advertising the free gift with follow, but that was just an assist. YOU engaging your customers, welcoming them, giving them free stuff - it may not be comfy but you gotta do it! I promise you aren't coming off like a slimy salesman or a pushy mall kiosk harasser. Make people form a connection with you and your work. For every 100 people you offer a free sticker to, you may get like 4 people who say "no thanks, I'm good". The rest will be an elated "oh my gosh YES!". 

"What is your process for determining how many of which products to bring?" - @lexyy.hastyy

Uhhhhh -- I'll let you know when I figure it out?? This is absolutely the hardest part of doing any event, and planning for one across the country is a unique nightmare. Here are a few things I try to go by though:

1. Reference sales from prior events as a jumping off point. If you have info from a similar sized event, amazing! If not, try to scale the info you do have to match the duration and expected traffic of the event. 
2. Consider the needs/wants of your customer for this specific event. For example, people at an outdoor music festival probably won't be as inclined to buy a print that they have to carry around as an attendee of an indoor craft fair would be. And craft fair attendees won't be as desperate for a sweatshirt as a nearly-naked festival goer who served LOOKS during the day but is now woefully unprepared for the 40 degree nights. 
3. Would you rather sell out of things and have nothing to bring home with you, or would you rather have more than you need just in case you severely underestimated turnout? 

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1 comment

I’d love to hear more about camping as a vendor! Did you use tents?

Lia de Lyon

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