Welcome to Part 2 of our Virtual Market Month – did you read last week’s? If not, catch up here!
This week it is all about the creative brains behind these events – 5 of the jolly clever people creating, running, organising and promoting their bums off to bring us lot some joy when we need it the most.
1 – LONDON MAKERS MARKET
First, lets take a look at the FABULOUS London Makers Market, who’s most recent event was last weekend’s Eco-Conscious Market (3rd-4th October).
Let’s hand over to Olivia, the wonderful founder of London Makers Market to tell us more about the organisation:
“At London Makers Market, we aim to help, support and promote as many independent businesses as we can, not only with our markets, but also with artist features, relevant blog posts and regular sharing of creative content. Whether online, or offline, the events are tailored so that there is something to tempt everyone: jewellery, homewares, gifts, accessories, prints, artwork, ceramics and much much more.”
And tempted we are! Their events haven’t always been online though, beginning as a physical event in London:
“London Makers Market was initially set up as a roaming artisan market, showcasing different designers and makers from around London and beyond. Due to the current situation, we have had to take more of an online approach over the last few months, and adapt so that we can continue to support our creative community. We launched our first virtual market in May with 180 makers featured on our website, and a big shopping event on our Instagram stories with over 220 makers and small businesses. Since then, we have had another curated online market with a smaller group of 30 makers, and we have our three more online events coming up before Christmas.”
So how does she feel the concept of a ‘virtual market’ differs from their previous, ‘in person’ events?
“Virtual markets do differ quite a bit from physical ones, however there are so many positives to taking them online. Although you miss out on meeting customers face-to-face and showing off your products in person, we believe there is a lot more to gain from online markets. The engagement is great, makers can still promote themselves and their work through social media, taking good video content and images of their items. The community aspect is even stronger, the support from other creatives is amazing and the sales are pretty surprising too! Some of our makers at the last virtual market had their best sales day and made double what they would at a physical event.”
What brilliant news – to hear that creatives are finding these online events super successful, and sometimes even more so than face-to-face markets!
One thing that some people may find difficult to get their head around, is how these events are actually working – what does the planning look like for something like this to happen?
“The makers can apply for specific markets via our website. We normally have a maximum of 30 makers per event, who are chosen to fit the market type. It is important that there are no competing brands or products and the makers are as eco-conscious as possible. Once all of the small businesses have secured their place, we start to show off their work. This happens on Instagram, and on our website if they have opted to be a Featured Maker. We also feature all of the makers on our website, with a link to their individual shops, so that customers can find them all in one place, and shop directly with them. This Market Directory stays live for one week after the event, making it easy for customers to revisit the brands.”
So even if you are off gallivanting on that particular weekend, you can still catch up for the next week, using the Market Directory on their website!
And follow them on Instagram – @londonmakersmarket – to keep up to date with the Featured Makers and upcoming events.
So what do we reckon, has London Makers Market been a successful event so far?
“Absolutely! As everything slowly gets back to some form of new normality we think that Virtual Markets are an exciting direction that invites even more craft, art and creative enthusiasts to find more brilliant makers. We’re looking to really invest the time and effort to grow this more and create something truly special. Watch this space, we have three more online markets happening before Christmas!”
Consider us watching this space!
Please check out London Maker’s Market’s website and social media pages to keep up to date, and to discover wonderful independent makers and businesses, who you didn’t know you needed!
2 – QUARANTINE CRAFT FAIR
Next up, we had a chat with contemporary jeweller, Hannah, who created the Quarantine Craft Fair, to function as an online resource to help other artists and makers like herself during lockdown.
Here’s what she told us:
“It’s been an amazing experience for me running these craft fairs. I’d never done anything like this before lockdown (running craft fairs was completely new to me) and could never have predicted their success. Initially it was only going to be one event – I started setting it up only a couple of days into lockdown, reaching out to artists and makers I either knew personally or had seen at craft fairs, but as I started receiving messages from others hoping to take part I decided to continue them.”
“I set up the Quarantine Craft Fair as something for myself and other makers to work towards during this difficult time. Exhibitions I’d been looking forward to taking part in had just been cancelled and I knew others would be in the same position and at a loss for what to do. I was, however, amazed by how well the first 2 events turned out. The 2nd event was particularly successful, making 100 sales between the 15 participants.”
And Hannah’s favourite part about her new venture?
“The best thing about this for me is being in contact with so many amazing artists – some of whom I probably wouldn’t have ever discovered otherwise. They have all been so wonderful to work with and so supportive of each other. It’s created a really amazing community.”
So how does it work, how do we know who and where to buy?
“Throughout the events, I post images of the artists’ work in batches with info in the text – descriptions and prices – and ask the customers to message the individual artists to make purchases (the artists are tagged in the posts). The artists can then either send the customer an invoice or a link to the items in their online shops. This way participants don’t have to have an up-and-running online shop to take part but if they do, they still get to interact directly with the customers like they would at an actual craft fair – something I think many customers miss in this situation we’re in.”
For information on how to get involved with one of Hannah’s fab events, pop over to her website, or give her a follow to keep in the know about upcoming fairs! All of the artists and makers who have participated so far can be found in her highlights on Instagram.
3 – CRAFTY FOX MARKET
Next we have Crafty Fox Market – huge supporters of independent makers, and all round good eggs. A huge amount of passion and hard work; fabulous, unique locations; and years of industry knowledge are just some of the reasons that Crafty Fox Markets, and their online creative community Shopping with Soul, are who they are today.
We spoke to founder Sinead about the organisation and their mission!
“I launched Crafty Fox Market back in 2010, as I was making and selling jewellery at the time alongside a full time job in event management. I am passionate about the maker scene and I had noticed a lack of community at the markets I was attending, so I decided to launch my own event. I ‘quit the day job’ in 2012 and made it my mission to support artists and makers to sell their work directly to the public through a series of shopping events. Shopping With Soul is our membership community and was launched in 2016 as a way to showcase our talented makers online through a bespoke website and membership directory.”
Although usually a physical event, Crafty Fox ran their first online market in April, due to the pandemic, and since then have held them monthly.
So, what does the future have in store?
“For our mega-online Christmas Markets (7th Nov & 5th Dec), shoppers will find all makers taking part listed on a bespoke page on our website. This will be supported by lots of content on our Instagram, for example, video demos and lives. Each of our makers will also be hosting content on their own Instagram accounts.”
I cannot WAIT to shop the November and December events, no doubt with a Baileys in hand and The Pogues blaring in the background…too soon?!
Just as the other event creators have mentioned above, Sinead said:
“Some of our traders have told us that they sold as much through the online markets as at some of our particularly successful in-person markets!” which is so so good to hear.
4 – SOLO CRAFT FAIR
Based in South London, SoLo Craft Fair is run by creatives Catherine and Rebecca, and provides a platform for artists, designers, makers, musicians and creative business owners to promote their work.
During the recent lockdown, their whole business make-up had to change:
“In normal life, SoLo Craft Fair runs markets and pop-up shops across South London, providing a platform for small businesses to develop. The independent businesses we work with create everything from jewellery to ceramics, art to fashion and so much more.
When the pandemic hit, we had to cancel so many events and opportunities for these small businesses to make a living. Being both small business owners ourselves (Catherine owns London Lily and Rebecca is part of Drawn Together Art Collective), we knew how hard the coming months would be. That’s when we came up with the idea of doing the virtual markets. The emphasis of the markets would be that they were inclusive and they had to be free and easy to take part in. Our first event on 21st March took place after only 3 days of promotion and had 200 makers from across the world take part, and throughout lockdown the concept kept growing.
We were so pleased to see how much this supported many businesses: many makers wrote to us saying how they made their first ever sale, or they had now made friends or great business connections through the market.”
5 – PEDDDLE
Now last, but very much not least, we got chatting to wonderful Nicki, of Pedddle – a fantastic online platform for independent markets and stallholders.
She told us about how and why it all began:
“There was a massive gap in that particular type of creative event, and I love to visit them, and just couldn’t find them. By the markets being either monthly, or quarterly, or sometimes even more sporadic, it was really difficult to connect with them.
I’d also often go and run out of time when visiting the events, or wanted to go and speak to one of the stall holders afterwards but finding them again was tricky.
Stall holders actually check in at the markets on our website, and they appear on the actual market page, so you can see who’s going to be there. There is also an ‘in case you missed them’ section, so you can see who’s been there in the past 3 months.”
Pedddle’s own online events are very aptly named: The Rainy Day Markets:
“The Rainy Day Markets happened when we suffered quite a few storms, which resulted in a lot of markets being shut down – this was constantly resulting in creatives who were making and preparing products, and making food, with suddenly no outlets to sell.
So I created this online market, which pretty much runs exactly how my current online markets due to Covid run now. But it was such an early concept, and actually trying to educate people on what an online market is was a bit tricky, and also getting the word out there. But I still love my rainy day markets, and now its just one big Covid market!
The markets that we run now are, as I say, very similar to the Rainy Day Markets. We are simply just the platform and we list all of the stall holders – we usually categorise them into art and stationary; homewares; ceramics; glass and textiles. Once you’re in the category on the website, you can see all of the stall holders, and a ‘shop now’ button, which will take you to their own website, or Etsy shop etc.
The best thing is that you’re shopping direct from them, and they are therefore getting the most of the profits, which is really important to me.”
“Very often, your purchases made at a market are driven by desire really rather than actual necessity, so it makes it all the more special. I don’t feel that can be replicated by going into a shop, and the fact that you actually meet the stall holder – you chat to them about where their inspiration came from, and things like that – I think it makes the providence of the item so much more interesting.”
It is amazing what Pedddle are doing – not only running an online market themselves, but also providing a platform to show off other creative events too!
Have a little look at their brilliant website here for some market inspiration, and follow over on Instagram (@pedddleuk) for all the inside information on your next market!
What a lot of brilliant information! We are so mega grateful to everyone who spoke to us for this week’s post, and gave us some insights into what it is like to run these events, and why it is so important to keep doing so!
Have you visited any online events? What did you think? Drop us a message!
These virtual markets definitely seem to be something that will be sticking around, perhaps alongside our much loved physical events.
Next week, come back along for an insight from some talented sellers and creatives who have sold at virtual markets this year!