Written by Fiona Humphreys of Folksy shop Inkyprints Originals
Of all the Christmas Fairs I had planned for the festive season, The Big Christmas MADE Market stood out as being just that little bit different. The fresh and contemporary inclusive approach that underpins theMADEproject gives it a truly individual and inspiring vibe so that I was delighted to be included in the selection of quirky, crafty, design-led creatives.
One of the reasons I really wanted to do this market was the line-up. It matters who are selling next to – it matters to the stallholders and it matters to the public. Any event like this works best if the marriage between designers and buyers is a happy one, and this one certainly worked for me.
The Goody Bags
Before the day itself, all of the designer-makers were invited to contribute to goody bags to be handed out to the first lucky 100 people on the day. It was entirely optional but struck me as a positive and constructive way to get stallholders involved in the preparation for the event and to encourage an interest in spreading the word in the lead up to the market. It worked. I made 100 hand-printed mini gift-tags which I then attached to my business cards and these were all then included in the bags. I wasn’t lucky enough to grab a bag because they had all disappeared by the time I headed over for a photo!! The lucky recipients looked pretty chuffed with their festive little treasures.
The Big Made Market Day Itself
We headed down from Birmingham to the pretty town of Gloucester with its stunning cathedral guarding the city as we wound our way to the centre . The venue was the Gloucester Guildhall which sits right in the heart of the shopping district offering a cinema and café next to the theatre space which was to be home for the day.
The theatre space was just about right – big and airy enough for comfort and light but small enough to be welcoming. A big thank you to theMADEproject for giving the stallholders free choice of stall location (rare), it gives stallholders an important feeling of control.. After that everything slipped into place happily. The music was spot on – a mix of festive and cool songs to keep sanity at hand – and I was set up in time to see the public start coming through the doors as soon as they opened – in fact I think a few eager folk snuck in early!
It was pleasing to see that the people coming through the doors took a real interest in the colourful and stylish work on display, taking time to chat with the makers and it was clear that the Christmas shopping season had begun.
I really enjoyed being a Folksy Ambassador, chatting about the site, other makers and encouraging people to take one of the Folksy samplers with them for a comfortable browse at home. It was great to discover how much the Folksy word has spread already and I am sure that more will be taking a closer look over the coming weeks after checking out their samplers.
I was also delighted to discover that I was not the only Folksy maker at the market that day: Jennifer Radley-Davies of Kwur-kee was there with her beautiful handmade silk accessories and headpieces for weddings and special occasions. We had a chat and I know she had a wonderful day too.
Gemma Hotchkiss and Emma Head of Jurassic Panda were also there and we had a little chuckle to discover that not only were we both on Folksy, but Gemma and I had both travelled down from the same little bit of Kings Heath in South Birmingham – there must be something in the water because we have a very healthy share of creative round here! Their colourful quirky designs tell a tale where a bamboo loving bear meets a prehistoric beast.
Time to head home
At the close of the day I was more than happy with the sales I had made together with additional interest from retail outlets for the future. I would have loved a little more time to browse the other tempting stalls myself. When I did get the chance I whizzed round and grabbed as many business cards as possible so that I could come away and look them up online – and perhaps get in some Christmas shopping of my own!
I will also be staying in touch with the lovely theMADEproject – I’d be happy to go again.
Thanks to Fiona for covering this event for us. If you’d like to be a Folksy Ambassador please send an email with details of the event and your Folksy shop name to firstname.lastname@example.org.