Every handmade vendor wants to know what the hot items are to sell at craft shows each year. There are so many factors that affect which booth is the busiest and there’s no guarantee an item will be a hot seller at every event. But, vendors can follow trends, put their spin on them and be more likely to stand out to shoppers.
2019’s list is here! Check out CRAFT TRENDS FOR 2020 for an updated list
When it comes to making products you sell at craft shows, you may offer:
- Products that don’t follow trends
- Products that are on trend
- Products that are ahead of trends
1) PRODUCTS THAT DON’T FOLLOW TRENDS
If you’re a vendor making products that don’t follow trends and pave their own path, that’s amazing! A product doesn’t need to be part of a major trend to be a hot seller.
You may be interested in WHAT TO SELL AT CRAFT SHOWS TO MAKE MONEY or 100+ CRAFTS TO MAKE & SELL FROM HOME. They will help you uncover a niche for your product, that doesn’t have to follow a trend; it just have to have a big enough audience to get you consistent sales.
But since you’re reading this article, I’m guessing you’re the type of seller who stays ahead of or on trends, or is wondering what the latest trends are to spark your imagination, so that’s what I’m going to cover.
2) PRODUCTS THAT ARE ON-TREND
Think of “on-trend” as items that have gotten a lot of people on the bandwagon. This is where the majority of shoppers fall, as most people need to see a trend a few times before they’re ready to accept it.
I’ll admit, when I first started seeing the choker necklace come back in style, I was having none of it (been there, done that). But after seeing it in several styles, worn in different ways, I’ve come around to the idea.
“On-trend” are the types of product trends I’ll be covering in this article but there’s also advice on how to stay ahead of trends below.
I’ve used Google Trends, social media and a couple of other tools to determine which keywords are being searched the most, what type of DIY’s are being pinned the most and what seems to be on the upward swing.
3) PRODUCTS THAT ARE AHEAD OF TRENDS
Ahead of the trend products are for your early adopters. They see a trend when it first hits the scene and are ready for it. They don’t require convincing and they want to be the first of their friends to wear the look or own the item.
To be ahead of trends, you must keep your ear to the ground. If you sell fashion items, such as accessories, jewelry, clothing, etc. you MUST pay attention to the Fashion Week’s around the world, read fashion magazines and regularly check in on fashion blogs.
You can stay up to date on home décor trends by going to home shows and reading home décor/interior decorating magazines and blogs.
Beauty blogs and magazines are good sources for cosmetic makers (e.g. soap, lotion, shampoo, nail polish, etc.) who want to stay ahead of trends. Watch for popular colors, ingredients (e.g. activated charcoal) or methods (e.g. oil cleansing).
*A WORD OF CAUTION
Before you jump on any product trend, be sure you aren’t infringing on intellectual property laws; as covered in LAWS FOR SELLING HANDMADE. You cannot copy the creative works of others; copyrights, trademarks and patents automatically protect them as soon as they’re created.
If a Disney character is trending, you cannot start selling products of the Disney character; that’s copyright infringement…no matter how many people are doing it on Etsy and beyond…it’s copyright infringement.
“Fair use” may come into play but fair use isn’t exactly straightforward in the intellectual property world. I am not a lawyer and am in no way providing legal advice; when unsure, steer clear, contact an intellectual property lawyer or contact the original creator to ask about a licensing agreement.
Now that I’ve added my two cents about trends…let’s get into them!
3 ESSENTIALS WHEN SELLING A HOT ITEM
You can be offering the most popular product on the planet, but that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to make money. Before you start selling any product, trendy or not, be sure these 3 essentials are in place:
#1 – IT MUST BE PROFITABLE
If you’re not covering ALL costs (materials, craft show table fees, parking for the day, etc.) and ALL your wages (your time spent making the item, setting up at the event, selling at the event, etc.) through sales and being left with money to count once those costs and wages are deducted, you’re not making money.
Some crafts are more profitable than others and some are extremely difficult to make money from. Check out:
#2 – IT MUST HAVE A UNIQUE ANGLE
If a trend is hot, you can expect many fellow makers to jump on it and start selling similar products. If red hats with pom-poms are hot one year and every vendor at a craft show is offering them, shoppers are likely to buy from the vendor with the lowest price…and you DO NOT want to compete on price when operating a handmade business.
That’s why, even if you’re selling a product several other vendors are selling, you need to have some sort of a unique angle. If that unique angle isn’t coming from your products, you can find other areas of your business to go above and beyond. Perhaps you offer matching pom-pom mittens and scarves to go with the red pom-pom hats. Maybe your branding takes your products above and beyond, appealing to a unique type of customer. Or you may be able to work some type of perk into your pricing such as gift wrapping, customization, etc.
If you’re not sure what your unique selling position is (USP) and aren’t able to give a valid reason for why a shopper should choose your red hat over another’s, check out:
*”Valid reason” being one the consumer actually cares about. Do you care how long a car takes to make or the materials in the paint? Or are you more interested in how long the car will last, how unlikely it is to break down and how the paint resists chips and stays shiny longer? Those are benefits that mean something to consumers; not length of production time or paint materials.
#3 – IT MUST BE DISPLAYED PROPERLY
Plunk the hottest trending product down on a table without merchandising and it isn’t likely to be a hot seller for you. It will cheapen the trend and value of the product.
Instead, place that hot item within a strong display and you increase the perceived value and in turn, make more sales.
Would you be willing to spend $50,000 on a vehicle that’s sitting in a rundown showroom with dirty floors, bad lighting and full of sales people who don’t pay attention to you or share information about why the vehicle is worth $50,000?
It doesn’t matter whether a consumer is spending $5 or $50,000, they want to be sure they’re spending wisely and getting value. Your display and the way you talk about your products will help encourage shoppers of that.
Join the FREE 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY challenge to learn the exact steps to creating a powerful display that converts shoppers into customers.
COLOR PALETTES FOR HOT ITEMS
Color is an important aspect in most products. Pantone is a system for matching colors and each year, Pantone defines a “color of the year”. The color is used in fashion, makeup, graphic designs, home décor, etc.
Pantone’s color of 2018 is “Ultra Violet”. If you’re following color trends, this color should be an option in your lineup.
Fashion color trends 2018
According to Vogue (source) these are the top 10 colors trends for 2018: Lavender, Ultra Violet, Rapture Rose, Blue Sky, Nile Green, Military Green, Chocolate Brown, White, Yellow & Red Tomato.
These colors could be applied to handmade items such as:
- Bags & purses
- Hair accessories
- Phone covers
- Stones in jewelry
Home décor color trends 2018
According to House Beautiful (source) here are ten of their top color trends for 2018: Ultra Violet, Dark Plum, Blush, Sage, Oceanside, Bottle Green, Autumn Maple, Chinoiserie Red, Caliente, Marigold.
These colors could be applied to handmade items such as:
- Art & wall hangings (incorporate colors into paintings, photos, signs, etc.)
- Candle holders & color of wax used for candles
- Dishes & Pottery
- Cushion covers
You could also apply these colors to bars of soap to offer colors that match the décor pieces in a bathroom or kitchen.
Stay on trend
Color trends tend to update with each season and based on the different industries, so keep an eye out during spring, summer, fall and winter for fresh new colors to update your products with.
BEST SELLING CROCHET ITEMS OF 2018
If you’re a vendor who knits or crochets, these are hot items based on Google Trends:
Crochet water balloons
These are a great idea for summer and I love that they reduce the waste broken balloons create.
They’re simply meant to be soaked in water, not filled with water. Sort of like throwing a wet sponge instead of a balloon filled with water. Left in Knots shares a tutorial on their blog; find the instructions here.
Extreme chunky blankets
Thick yarn and oversized needles create a chunky knit that’s started a trend. Lily Ardor has a beautiful blanket and tutorial. Visit her blog and find the DIY here.
During spring and summer months, this trend is best suited for items like:
- Baby blankets
- Floor pillows
- Pillow covers
- Stuffed animals
When the weather starts to cool down, you could add new chunky knitted items such as:
*Word of caution
Do NOT offer too may products on your craft show table; it ends up creating chaos for your customer and making your space feel overwhelming. You’re a small handmade vendor, not a department store, so you must keep your product selection exclusive.
For the maximum number of categories and subcategories you should sell under, as well as how many options you should offer, please read:
The unicorn trend came in strong last year and it appears it’s continuing into 2018. “Knitted unicorn” is a popular search phrase on Google so if you make knitted dolls and toys, a unicorn may be a good one to add to your product lineup. Find the pattern for the unicorn shown below on One Dog Woof.
BEST SELLING SOAP ITEMS OF 2018
Pinterest is a great place to look for soap trends. Unlike trends in fashion, there isn’t as strong of a desire for consumers to stay up to date on soap trends. It’s more a matter of catching shoppers’ eyes on Etsy or at a craft show with fun new soap products.
Gemstone & Geode shapes
Gemstone soaps have been a hot item in the past year with lots of really fun DIY’s using different shapes, gems, rocks, etc. for inspiration. Here are a couple of my favorites that have been popping up in my Pinterest feed.
Love these Geode Bath Bombs by The Makeup Dummy. Find the DIY for them here.
And how cool are these Amethyst Soap Gems from the blog Mary Makes Good? Find the DIY for this soap here.
The unicorn trend has carried into many products, including bath & body products. Here are a few fun examples.
*As a seller, you cannot use the Starbucks logo shown on these as it would be considered intellectual property infringement, but it would be fine to use the logo if the bath bombs are for personal use and you’re not profiting from them.
You could also use unicorn inspired colors for your soap like A Beautiful Mess did in their gradient soap bar DIY, found here.
These act like soap but have a fun jelly texture to them. You can alter the shape, color, size and scent to fit with your brand. I love these gummy bear jelly soaps created by Happiness is Homemade. You can find the instructions here.
You can also research what’s popular when it comes to bath & body ingredients. People are always looking for the latest skincare trend. Some ingredients that are trending for 2018 are:
- Crystal infused skincare products
- Cannabis infused skincare products
- Luxury body care products (keeping body skin looking as good as the skin on your face; body masks, body serums, etc.)
Or try turning to trends in other industries. For example:
- Fashion – work popular prints/patterns and colors into bars of soap.
- Food – what’s popular for desserts? Donuts and cupcakes have been popular in the past couple years and mirror glazed sweets seem to be trendy this year.
- Home décor – popular paint colors for the season could be incorporated into bars of soap.
You must always follow the regulations your country (and any country you sell your products to) has set out for cosmetics. Be aware of them before creating and selling any products mentioned in this article. Please read:
- LAWS FOR SELLING HANDMADE SOAPS & COSMETICS
- LAWS FOR SELLING HANDMADE
- 3 BIG LEGAL MISTAKES CRAFT BUSINESSES MAKE
BEST SELLING JEWELRY ITEMS
Based on Google Trends, some items that are currently trending in the jewelry industry are:
Tassel & Pom-poms
This trend mainly applied to earrings when it came to popular search terms but there’s no reason you can’t carry tassels or pom-poms into bracelets, necklaces and maybe even rings? (I think a pom-pom ring would be cute!)
Wood resin necklace
Natural wood combined with glossy resin creates a cool look. Here’s one by Hazel + Gold Designs. You can find the DIY here.
Diffuser / essential oil bracelet
This is also a trend that can be carried into other jewelry pieces such as necklaces or rings. Here’s one by Mommy Potamus. You can find the DIY here.
Some other popular search terms according to Google Trends are:
- Anxiety bracelet
- Glow in the dark moon necklace
- Moon phase necklace
- Solar system bracelet
BEST SELLING HOME DÉCOR ITEMS
Home décor trends can apply to a variety of products. Popular search trends that could inspire hot items to sell at craft shows are:
Boho style home décor
If you’re not sure what type of style “bohemian” or “boho” refers to, search “bohemian décor” on Pinterest for ideas:
Some items that might fit within a boho style are:
Macrame & weaving like this lovely macrame plant hanger on the blog heylilahey. Find the tutorial here.
Driftwood can also have a bohemian vibe. Here’s a beautiful mirror from Sustain my Craft Habit. Check out the tutorial here.
And this branch heart is such a unique piece of wall art. Find the DIY from Shades of Blue Interiors here.
Dreamcatchers can also have a bohemian vibe to them. I love this modern one from the blog Almost Makes Perfect. Find the DIY here.
Tassels and pom-poms added to pillows or blankets can add a bohemian flair to home decor products too. I love the oversized tassels on this blanket DIY by Bre Purposed. Find the tutorial here.
Blush Pink Home Décor
This color is great on it’s own but also looks amazing with gold accents or paired with soft beiges for a feminine collection. You could create a hot item by applying the color to:
- Home accents
- Wall hangings
To get an idea of the blush pink trend, search “blush pink home décor” on Pinterest:
I strongly believe Fixer Upper has had a big influence on this trend. Joanna Gaines has so many ways to implement farmhouse design and give it anything from a modern to a traditional flair.
Search “farmhouse décor” on Pinterest to get an idea of what this trend looks like:
It’s important that, no matter which products you add to your craft show product list, they fit with your brand and ideal customer.
Want more tips to boost those sales at a craft show? Join my free 5-day email challenge: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY. Read more about the FREE challenge here or sign up below.
- CRAFT TRENDS FOR 2020
- LAWS FOR SELLING HANDMADE
- 3 BIG LEGAL MISTAKES HANDMADE BUSINESSES MAKE
- 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY
Share your thoughts in the comment section! What do you think are going to be 2018’s hot items to sell at a craft show?
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!