Based on the edge of the river Wendle, the market has some lovely scenic aspects... a pottery with it's own waterwheel, a lovely restaurant and a bandstand for the Sunday musical events. It also has a lot of history... part of the buildings were used to print the famous Liberty silks and was also a home to some involved in the Victorian Arts and Crafts Movement of William Morris, who apparently owned the factory downstream.
I've had my eye on this market for a while, so was really pleased that I took a chance to show there.
They have some building work on at the moment, as most markets do... they are building a new (in keeping) building for studio spaces and shops, so in the meantime the stall holders and casuals (moi!) are all in a marquee.
I was a bit worried at first, as a casual you don't want to step on anyone's toes by selling a similar craft and feltmaking is becoming more popular... but my fellow stall holders were very happy for me to be there... they all thought my work was very different and would be a good addition to the dozens of other artists already in residence. Phew, I thought... I'd already taken a chance and advertised myself!
My boyfriend helped me set up for the weekend and stayed with me, just in case I couldn't cope with the rush (a mixture of wishful thinking and panic at the size of the place!)
This is me feeling a bit tired and nervous, but ready to go.
I took some items I had left over from my exhibition in March... the ones you can mail order from me on my website... under the Boutique tab and I made plenty of extras too. I also took along plenty of my Mystery Bags... I'm using them as a way to encourage customers and to advertise some of my favourite on-line shops!
I wanted to keep the stall simple and let the product speak out for it's self... but it's always difficult to know exactly how to present yourself. I decided in the end on simple one colour sheets as a base and then bought in some stands for my earrings and rings... I took the three handmade jewellery rolls for displaying my boutique collections... you know the ones I made for my exhibition back in March. I thought they would be easier to see the pieces that worked together. I topped the stall off with a handmade banner... using some of my Craft Shop's computer printable fabric. Oh and don't forget the business cards Sara!!
Saturday the weather was fine, but when customers were far and few between I was told that there was an event on at Clapham Common, so maybe the day would be slow... oh poop, trust me to pick the wrong day! Never mind I thought, I have had lots of interest and given out cards... there always tomorrow! Sunday came and so did the rain... torrential! Fortunately it cleared up by 11am, so we had only lost an hour and the customers did start strolling in. Sunday was the day for selling it seemed and I made my rent money... yay! Now I didn't have to worry if Monday was rained off... which of course it was!
Overall the reception was good. I had lots of wonderful compliments and met some really nice people... I think I need to take something along to make next time if I can... people will understand my product better, if they can see the process. The main area of confusion was the fabric for the bags... customers knew it was felt, but thought I had bought it in, rather than spending hours needle punching the coloured roving onto the base felt before embroidering and beading. 'Oh, my God... wow I never realised. Now I understand!' they'd say... Note to self: never assume the customer knows what you know about what you do!
I also had a bit of interest from a group of artists, who came to me with an idea after I spoke to them... hopefully I will have more news on that soon!
So what were my observations about the customer base? Well it was difficult to say, because the weather and the Clapham event did hinder a 'normal' weekend of trading... having said that I did notice a real mix of people. There were local regulars who use the market to pick up handmade cards, or a length of fabric and then there were out of town visitors who came because of the historical and arts and crafts connection. This gave me an idea... I need to connect to both types of customer right?
Now that I've been asked back... I am running around getting some more bits together and am working on a one weekend experiment... a bigger stall; half with my Boutique collection and half with a selection from my Craft shop. I want to see what works and what doesn't before I commit to a summer of selling.
If you get chance this weekend (31st May-1st June) to pop over... do come and say 'Hi', I think I will be in the marquee again.