Saturday was at Spitalfields Old Market in the East of London. My second time in Spitalfields as I had taken a stall in November when the organisers of a dedicated space to designers - 'Designers Makers', launched their first day of a regular market to be held every third Saturday of the month.
A sunny and icy day. My lovely supportive husband, Tom, once again drove me and my suitcases through the streets of London, offloaded me, then disappeared before the wardens moved in. Not before having a surprise meet with another Jo two stalls down from me, who Tom knows through work. After working a full week, she was there to sell her hand sewn ipod covers.
Setting up the stall - lesson one - have a plan of how it should be arranged otherwise you end up like me - faffing for ages. I had learnt a few things from the previous month - vary the heights, have signs bigger. My friend Rif who is great on arranging things and colour co-ordination, had also tutuored me in advance and I kept thinking 'how would Rif do this?'
When the market came alive, a woman came up and said 'Oh great you're here, I came last month and really like what you do' and bought more. This re-inforced what people have said - come rain or shine, turn up and make yourself known to your customers. Inside I wanted to hug this woman!
I hadn't told many friends or relatives what I was doing this time. I didn't want them to feel pressure to come and buy from me. So, it was funny when my brother and sister in law wandered in to Spitalfields by chance mid morning. There's no doubt, the support of friends and family make the whole experience a less lonely one, not to mention relieving you for loo and food breaks!
At lunchtime my fantastic friend and supporter, Ali, came to help me. She's a great salesperson and gets everyone laughing.
My other brother, Jim, another force of positive energy also urned up after a morning of tai chi. There's always been moments in my life where I've observed him 'performing' and women 'giggling' and Saturday was no different. Standing at the front of the stall, stroking and sniffing my velvet lavender cushions in an appreciative fashion, two young women thought this was hilarious....for a while....then suddenly ran off!
All in all a good day with a buzzy friendly atmosphere and I sold enough to make it all worthwhile.
Everything stayed in the car, ready for day two - the outdoor gig. Every Sunday in Alexandra Palace Park, N8, a farmers market sets up shop. There are also spaces for local craftspeople. Tom once again came into his own, venturing out into frosty streets to put up my gazebo, dump my stuff, before heading off with the car.
All I had to do was arrange my table when I got there. It was a beautiful morning. Everything was a bit more space out compared to the cosyness of Spitalfields, but I had friendly neighbours - a father and son selling homemade spicy relishes to my left and to my right a man and his grow your own mushroom logs! Superb salesmanship spewed forth from this likeable bloke as he shifted countless kits to passers-by. Like a previous man I had met at a local school fair who recommended the farmers market to me, this guy was full of useful and worldly advice to a starter like me. He reckoned Covent Garden Market would be good for me!
People seemed to like my stall and said nice things about the work. I was bolder and made sure they knew I had designed all the fabrics myself. Though the day was shorter, I sold about the same amount as Saturday which was interesting. One woman rushed by and said "Great! just what I've been looking for. I have a lot of acupuncture which is often in a bright space so I like to have something over my eyes to block the light.' She wasn't too bothered about the colour or design, more the functionality.
Selling on the weekend before Christmas has got to be different. People were out shopping for presents and buying more because of the time of year, so only time will tell if my sales shrink to nothing if I return in January? But in an uncharacteristically positive frame of mind I've started to think, there might be tourists around then, so I should start to think about lightweight? British-edge? products. Maybe even a funky union jack - help!
People also asked if the eyepillows could be microwaved for neck pain. I'll plan to look into that.
The weekend was definately a learning curve and I think it helped me to have a more focused idea of what I should be doing, and a brewing addiction to market-ing!
ps. I've also opened an online selling etsy account with my remaining stock so we'll see how things progress on that front....