I started Pop Craft without having the overhead of a studio that I owned which was a wonderful way for me to test out the concept without a ton of investment.  Since that’s how I started my model, I found that many people who came to my workshops preferred the local bars I worked out of to a studio as it was more relaxed and they could get tasty bites and craft beers as they worked.

There are a few things that I look for when deciding if a venue, whether it be a bar, restaurant, hotel lobby or pet store (I’ve Pop Crafted in them all!) will work for the event.

SEATING AND SPACE

There are many super hip places that I would love to bring Pop Craft too.  Unfortunately, those places have tiny tables, tight walking areas, and dining areas that are too small.  The ideal arrangement is to have table height seating for all of your guests and then some.  Don’t forget about the extra space and table you will need to set up a supplies area.  And you need to be able to access each of the tables so you can check on folks, help them and give them materials.  If you can’t walk behind folks, it might be too tight of an environment.

LIGHTING

If you check out a venue in the day time, be sure to ask what their lighting is like.  Most bars have a dim atmosphere.  Ideally they have the ability to turn up the lights, but this isn’t a guarantee.  I’ve taken floor lamps or lamps that hang from the ceiling with me to workshops regularly.  If people can’t see their projects it turns into a battery-draining cell phone flashlight party, and it’s not cute.

SOUND LEVELS

Does this venue play loud music?  Do they have a particularly rowdy clientele?  Places that offer a separate area for your workshop are ideal.  It’s really nice to have some music or background noise from the bar to liven things up, but if you are shouting and people have trouble hearing you, it is not going to be a happy time for you or your participants.

CUSTOMER FIT

Knowing that you have to deal with the constraints listed above, it’s easy to slip into the mindset that you just need to find “somewhere” that works.  But I am a strong believer that you shouldn’t hold a workshop just anywhere.  It should be at a venue that your customers will feel comfortable in, would go to without the draw of crafting, and would be happy to discover because you introduced them to this new place that fits into their world.

VENUE RELATIONSHIP

The venues that I work with have been very welcoming and allow me to keep a rolling calendar of events.  I find that it is useful to frequent the same venues every month or every other month to build a customer base and give folks a way to anticipate where I’ll be teaching.  It’s a plus if your venue is open to having you back if your first workshops are a success.  Sty tuned for my post about negotiating for space with venues for more tips.