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At the markets, fairs and shows, plan to spend some time. Get there early, and look at everything. No doubt there will be some things that strike your fancy... keep it in the back of your mind. (After all, you do have to like what you create!) But pay attention to what other people are buying. Go with the idea in mind to actively look at what other people walk out with in their hands. (You may find it easier to focus on this if you leave your money at home!) Use a notebook, or keep mental notes of what type and style of products you notice have been selling the most. Watch to see what sells. Walk around and look at every detail. Then, go back later to see what is missing from each booth.
You may want to keep a small notebook in your purse... find a spot you can be alone for a few minutes and draw pictures of the items you particularly liked. Write down what it was about it that made it different and attractive to you. Or why you think it was attractive to everyone else. If youíre brave, ask someone why they bought a particular item. Let them know you are a crafter looking for new ideas, and you simply want to know what it was about the item they purchased which made it attractive to them. Iíve found many people are flattered that you think their purchase was special, and they are happy to tell you.
If you intend to create items for an upcoming holiday, remember to start at least six months in advance. Most shops which purchase crafts will want to reserve their inventory at least 4 to 5 months in advance. Be prepared. If you are selling your crafts at a show or fair, you can start a little later and still develop a good inventory. Looking through the ad pages of various types of home decorating magazines will also give you somewhat of an idea as to the market trends. Check back a minimum of six issues in popular decorating and crafting magazines (your library is a great place to spend an entire day doing this research) and look for items which have been continuously advertised in at least four consecutive issues. These are items which are selling well, and producing a profit for their creator. If you donít see country ducks for sale, or crocheted doll dresses, donít make them. Yours wonít sell either. The editorial and feature pages of the magazines can also spark ideas for you, even if the decor is not your particular style. The more open you are to different sources of ideas, the more ideas you will get.
Always be sure to tie in every idea with the colors that are trendy and popular. Itís helpful to subscribe to and keep on hand high-class decorating magazines, such as House Beautiful, and some of the others. They are definitely not "country style", but you should note that the principals of decorating used in these magazines are what is displayed in the homes pictured in the more popular country decorating magazines such as Country Living and Country Home. And eventually, the crafting magazines follow the lead of the country decorating magazines.
What you want to look for in these "classy" magazines is decorating trends. The trends will eventually filter down to the "country style", and eventually find themselves in the seasonal catalogs of the large home-decorating companies.... Speigel, Pennyís, and all the others. What you are looking for here is new trends of different aspects of decorating, (for instance, if you pick up any of those magazines now days you'll notice a trend of drapes being hung from near the ceiling instead of from the tip of the window... how long do you think it will take before a home with drapes hung that way is presented in Country Living?, as well as the colors which they feature in their home decor pages. The high-class, popular home decorating magazines will be the first places you will see the new trendy colors and decorative items. The magazines do dictate trends, and you will do well to follow their lead.
You can also accomplish this without waiting for your first orders of catalogs to arrive by walking through furniture shops, visiting a kitchen or home decorating department store. Go through some that are not necessarily "country" style, then through some that are. What seems fresh and new to you, and what seems like "old hat"? Notice the colors in the displays...
Put together all the information youíve gathered and determine your basics... target audience, product trends, basic style, colors, and price range. Now you must put these together and turn them into an original creation! You must sell what is trendy, and already selling on the market, but you also must in some way make it different, original, and new, if you want to attract attention and sales! Your next step is the hardest.
You must now take that idea, and concentrate on how you can offer it in a better design, with better quality, and at a better price. You can start out by combining certain detail touches on a few different similar products, and offering them all on your one product. Use the latest colors and newest textures. Look for a different supply material than what has been used before. Fit a square peg into a round hole. The bottom line is, after you have done all your research and culled all your ideas,
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