Sunday, 22 June 2014

Breaking up with Facebook.....

Let me preface this blog post with the acknowledgement that I do not have all the answers, nor do I profess to be an expert. This is simply my view of some of the comments I have seen going around Facebook with a touch of humour added to it.
It is not meant to be a doom and gloom style post on how Facebook is no longer viable for businesses as I believe quite the opposite that there is still quite a lot of benefits to be had from it, however it is all in how you utilise the tool at your disposal.

"It's not you, it's me!"

Don't you love my computer drawing skills lol
It's that most dreaded sentence you never want to hear when you are in a relationship, and by the look of my Facebook newsfeed, many small businesses seem to feel that that is exactly what Facebook is saying to them!
Recently I have seen a lot of small business pages closing their doors on Facebook, and while I know in some cases the economic climate has a big part in the situation, I hear over and over again that they feel Facebook is now making it SO HARD for them to conduct business and be seen.
So what is the answer to this problem?
Like I said before, I don't have all the answers but here are some thoughts from my point of view.

Do not 'prostitute' yourself to keep the relationship!

Some people feel that they have to pay Facebook for the pleasure of it's company if they want any chance of the relationship to succeed!
While I do not deny that Facebook ad promotion has its place, there are also some deep flaws with the process and I for one cannot say I have ever had huge success or sales as a result of the endeavour.That is not to say that it does not work for some people though.
This youtube video has an interesting view on the whole scenario:

Let's be honest here, as with any relationship, you want people to like you because of who you are and what you sell/create NOT because of how much you pay them. I want genuine likers on my page, people that are genuinely interested in what it is that I do. Instead of paying for promotion, look at the stats that Fb shows you and see what times of day give you greater reach and interaction to the current fan base that you have. If your products cater for stay at home Mum's, do your posts during the day while the kids are at school get a greater reach? Or do you get a better reach at night time when the kids have been safely tucked into bed and Mummy is relaxing with a glass of wine... or two. Do the hard yards and work out what gets you the best result.

Do not change who you are to keep the relationship!

The second thing I have noticed is that some brands are trying to post all sorts of things just to keep those post "likes" happening. They feel that they have to post quotes or sayings just to keep their viewers interested. While I know that there is some benefit to sharing a post that will then get shared onwards, let me be honest, if it has nothing to do with the type of business you run or the type of person you are - why are you sharing it?
For me I want honesty in a relationship, not a numbers game. I have un-liked pages in my newsfeed because they have started to cram as much cutesy images or pinterest links that they can into their feed as possible in the hope of keeping fans. This has two main problems that I see:
The first is that their product or brand is now a watered down version of what it was as their feed is now full of other peoples ideas, quotes, images and tips.
The second is that it is not generating interest in the actual products or service that the page offers, it is not genuine likers and makes it hard for your genuine likers to see the posts they really want to see.
Work out who you are and what it is you sell and then post things on your page because it is relevant to you, your product and your fans. I am not saying some of those outside sourced ideas, images and tips aren't worth sharing, however be aware of why you are sharing it and how often you do it.
BE YOURSELF and don't follow the trend of what others are doing!

Effective communication is key!

I am SUCH a skilled drawer ROFL

I have seen so many businesses lately post "If you can see this in your newsfeed please type '.' in the comments" or "Facebook has made lots of changes and to ensure you see my posts please type a smiley face below".
I am sorry for those of you that have posted this, I know it is done in an effort to effect change and beat the system... but it makes me want to click the un-like page button as fast as humanly possible!
If every day of my married life I asked my husband to respond to me with a smiley face or a full stop, I can tell you where our relationship would be headed!
Engage in GENUINE interaction with your fans! Post pictures of your work and ask them their opinion or what colour bead or material best suits this piece. The pages I like, I like because they have AMAZING work or things that I have on my wish list or offer a service I need. I do not like pages because I have commented with a ".".

There are plenty of other fish in the sea!

Colouring in sheet that I adapted, sheet available via

While I do not think you need to 'break-up' with Facebook, there is nothing wrong with playing the field in this instance! There are so many free social media marketing platforms available to you these days that there is no need to put all your hopes and dreams into Facebook. With any business success there is lots of hard work involved, expecting one social media outlet to answer all your sales goals and marketing needs is entirely unrealistic.

Twitter: If you are lazy like me, you can set it up so that your facebook business posts go directly on to your twitter feed. Easy as!
Pinterest: If you make beautiful things or take stunning photos, then pin them for the world to see (just make sure that you watermark them with your logo so people know whose they are)!
Instagram: Show your beautiful images or behind the scenes shots on Instagram, just remember #hashtag, #hashtag, #hashtag.
Blogger: This is a great way to provide a bit more detail about the things you want to share, rather than massive wordy posts on Facebook.
Flickr and You-tube: are also great tools for sharing and marketing.

For those of you that handmake your goodies, then try some online selling platforms to reach a new market.
Madeit: Is an Australian handmade online selling platform with minimal listing fees. It is a great platform that allows you to reach those looking for quality items made in Australia. Lots of bespoke, cute items on there!

ETSY: Is an International handmade online selling platform with minimal listing fees (click the hyperlink and you can even get 40 FREE listings to start you off if you haven't sold on there before).

There are also lots of other selling sites online that you can dip your toe into and see if it suits your products.

Website: You can do some great easy websites via weebly or pay for a professional web designer to set you up.

Fall in love all over again!


For those of you that don't have a Fb business page(and even for those of you that do), the most important thing with the changes in Facebook is to regularly interact with the pages you love!
If you want to see them in your newsfeed, click 'like' when they post an image you love. If they want your advice or help on a question, tell them your opinion.
DO NOT let some of the amazing artists and businesses that are hidden in the nooks and crannies of Fb disappear! There are some simply AMAZING artists out there, so SHARE their work, tell other people how awesome they are.
Don't take for granted the beautiful things in your newsfeed, a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into many of the things you see.

And if you find that Fb has been evil and removed them from your 'liked' pages, go back and fall in love with them all over again!

I hope this has helped you a little bit, and if you have any further suggestions I would love to hear your ideas on how to stay alive on social media.



Wednesday, 11 June 2014

An adventure in colour!

I love working with brass oxidised pieces in my work... however sometimes I want a slightly different look and feel.
Work had begun on a special piece but the pieces of brass ox were all different tones and I wanted a deeper, earthier look for this design. After attempting to change the colour of the brass with the XL gel(more on that method later) with no success, I attempted to patina the pieces with my butane torch.

Torch patina on sealed brass ox
As you can see on the piece above the torch allowed for pastel rainbow tones to further enhance the piece... but it wasn't the deep earthy colour I was wanting.

The Dilemma:

The problem in why the XL gel and the torch did not provide the desired effect was that the brass ox pieces have a sealant on them. So now the question was how to remove the sealant?!?
After asking in a few forums it was suggested that vinegar or dishwashing liquid would cut through the sealant. I attempted this method and then repeated my earlier steps of XL gel or torch but still with the same result.
So then how could I get these pieces the way I needed them to be?
After digging through my tools, I came across my metal bristle brush (can be purchased from hardware stores for around $2) and decided I would use that. I gently brushed the pieces in a circular motion to bring them back to a shiny brass finish.

Brass ox sealant stripped by metal brush

Success! The patina methods were now yielding a much better result.

Below you will find some of the different methods I tried to achieve a different colouration, each starts with a brushed back piece.

Liver of Sulphur Gel Method:

Starting with a brushed back piece of brass, mix the LOS gel as per instructions.
I HIGHLY recommend working with this mixture in a well ventilated area, preferably outside.
This method is what my husband calls the "fart juice" method!
The smell of the sulphur will produce a rotten egg smell that you do not want to have indoors, working with gloves is also highly recommended.
I submersed the piece for a few minutes and then removed it, rinsed it under cold water and then dried it. Darker results can be obtained by repeat applications and stronger ratio of gel.

LOS gel for patina

LOS gel on unsealed brass ox pieces
The result of the XL gel on the pieces gives a gorgeous rainbow of shimmery golds, olives and browns. So much nicer than pictured.

Salt and Vinegar Method:

This method is great to patina keys, metal findings and funky upcycled metal bits and bobs!
Fill a small container with vinegar and add a tablespoon of table salt, add metal items to the mixture and leave overnight.
The vinegar will remove the sealant and the salt will help to start the oxidisation process.
Remove the items from the mixture, allow to dry and check the finish. If it requires more patina, repeat the process again.
I really wish I had known this method years ago before I purchased expensive chemicals to give a green patina to my pieces! No chemicals, no fumes and low cost. It's a win win situation.

Salt and Vinegar on keys and brass ox unsealed piece
As you can see in the image it starts to give a pale green verdigris finish to the brass piece and the two keys have different finishes as a result of the different metals they are composed of.

Vintaj Ranger Ink Patina Method:

For this method you simply paint on the patina (available in lots of stunning colours) and allow it to dry. You can finish with a wax or spray sealant if desired. This is a great method for those that want a no fuss finish and want to achieve a variety of colours. You can find this ink at various jewellery stores both in Australia and overseas.
Vintaj patina on unsealed brass ox piece
This was getting closer to the look I wanted but I wanted some colour that had dimension to it and was not just a flat colour.

Butane Torch method:

This method involves placing the unsealed pieces on a heat proof material, I use fire bricks which can be purchased for around $5 from heating stores. Place your butane torch onto the pieces on a high flame. If you wish to create a rainbow effect gently wave the heat back and forth till the colour you desire is achieved. I wanted a deep rich, dark colour so I held the heat on the pieces till they glowed red and then removed the heat to check the darkness.

Butane Torch Patina on unsealed brass ox
It doesn't look it in the photo but it gives a deep brown with some red patches and some almost black patches. A very earthy, fire blackened look which was what I was wanting!

So why all this work?!?

So why was I wanting a deep earthy look? I was working on a piece inspired by the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. I wanted a piece that reflected it's pink and purple hues as well as the earthy nature of the trees and forest. The torch finish allowed the brass pieces to be more uniform in colour and to closer match the black hand dyed silk ribbon and the black metal pieces used in the piece.

All up I am quite happy with how it turned out and the earthy, blackened tones in the metal show up so much nicer in real life.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Market Stalls & Events - Part 4

It has been a VERY long time inbetween posts regarding markets and events, however life does not always go to plan and there are many things that pop up and get in the way of what we would like to be doing.

Today's post is all about "After Market Follow Up". It will not be a long post but there are some important tips.

Home again... now what?

So you have completed a market or an event and you think your job is now done... right? Wrong!
Your job does not finish when you enter the house or at the conclusion of a market.
To effectively grow your business you need to do much more than simply attend an event.

Here are some things that I think are essential to do after a market:

Social Media Gratitude:


If you posted on your facebook page (or other social media) in the lead up to the event, or even if you forgot to, please remember to post a thank you the same day as the event. You may even wish to post a thank you in a facebook group ( if the market/event has one dedicated to its stallholders).

The Do's

  • Acknowledge the customers who came and saw you. Whether or not they purchased is inconsequential, they came and experienced your products.
  • Thank those that helped make your day special, whether it be the market coordinators, other stallholders or simply someone who told you something lovely about your range.
  • Post a relevant image with your thank you, whether it be an image of a bunch of flowers or a picture of a special piece that went to it's new forever home that day. Images get better 'reach' on facebook than text alone generally does.
  • You may like to remind them of the next event they can find you at.
  • Remove images or change the comments on images to "sold" on those products that sold that day.

The Do not's

  • DO NOT talk online about how much money you made that day, most people find talking money amounts to be crass and really it is not something people need to know. You can say thank you for a very successful day though, or say it was my best market ever. Talking monetary amounts may also alienate you from other stallholders that did not do so well that day.
  •  DO NOT fill people's newsfeeds with EVERY single item you sold that day a) it gets VERY annoying b) it makes it look as though you are bragging about how much you sold c) I know some people have had issues with people copying their work as their competitors can see exactly how much they sold and what products are popular. d) did I mention it's ANNOYING! Instead post one or two that highlight your work and then edit or delete the remaining images of items that sold.
  • DO NOT criticise the market, other stallholders or customers on your business page!!! It makes you look unprofessional, catty and no-one wants to be thinking that you are a negative person. If you feel the need to let loose a verbal barrage about the day, do so to your dog or cat who won't judge you for it.

Following up on custom order requests:

Invariably you will get a customer requesting a special order at markets and hopefully you would have written down their details to contact them, do not expect them to remember to contact you as that is one way to lose the sale!
Turning a custom order request into an actual sale is important, sometimes people at the market will say they want something but when they get home they might have thought more about it and are less likely to be as passionate about it anymore. To reduce the risks of losing this potential sale, make some sort of follow up contact the SAME day as the event. Even if it is just an email to say "Thank you so much for visiting me at the market today, I look forward to working with you over the next few days to create a piece especially for you." it shows them that you have taken their request seriously and that they matter to you.
Prompt follow up also allows you to clear up any odd requests or miscommunications that leave you thinking "What on earth are they wanting?!?"

Newsletter signups:

This is an area where I will admit to being SUPER slack but am looking to implement at my markets rather than just through my online signup options.
Digital newsletters are a great way to keep your customers in the loop and inform them of new products and venues that they can purchase your products at. Having a sign up sheet at your stall is a great way to convert potential customers to becoming part of your loyal fan base.
HOWEVER those names are no good on a sheet, you must enter them into your database before you forget about it or lose the piece of paper.
If you have not looked into it mailchimp is a very user friendly way to get your news out there and it is very simple to add new sign ups to.


The main rule of after market follow up is to not delay it!
You will at times get customers email you with enquiries that very day, they may not have felt they could ask you at the event or they may not have fully looked at your stall but instead looked up your products when they got home (due to you leaving business cards in easily accessible locations on your stall).
Show your customers that their questions or queries are important to you and give them the best and timely customer service you can imagine.
"Part of maximizing your conversion rate involves responding to each sales lead as quickly as possible. According to the Harvard Business Review, businesses that respond to inquiries within an hour are seven times more likely to qualify a lead than businesses that wait longer than an hour. After 24 hours have passed, the likelihood of making a conversion drops drastically." (obtained from businessbee)

See past "market stall & events" posts for more information on attending events.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Dragon Scale Launch

Meet Omen!

Omen is a spotted python and the reason why my dragon scale (snake shed) jewellery came into existence. Omen's human, Kaela, approached me at the end of last year asking if I might be able to make some jewellery for her to wear using the shed (or moult) from her beloved pet.

The first piece I created was a vial style necklace filled with his shed, I was then asked if I could also make something whereby his shed was coloured and set in jewellery. After much fiddling and trial and error I came across a method using a mixture of 4 or 5 specialised dyes that gave a beautiful effect to the shed resembling a dragon's scales. The piece was met with a lot of interest from my regular customers and I began to research the viability of creating this jewellery and adding it to my product range.

With any product that uses animal matter, I then got in contact with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) to seek approval to create items using this animal waste product. After 2 months of consultation with the DEHP I had the guidelines and procedures in place that allow me to meet their requirements for such a product. In part the delay was due to the fact that they could find no-one else doing the work I was wanting to do with the sheds and thus needed to establish guidelines specifically for this type of work. On the one hand it is great to create a product range that is unique and not being done, on the other it can be frustrating to try and be patient and get the ball rolling.... but persistence pays off in the end!

Meet Kaela!

I have had the pleasure of working with Kaela (Sinrott) on a couple of photo shoots now, she is an amazingly talented model and so lovely to work with.  With the approval given for my snake jewellery, I thought it was only fitting that I do a product shoot with the two stars that started it all!

I have always loved snakes (while still having a healthy respect for them) and have fond memories of having a huge python wrapped across my shoulders as part of a high school animal education event. Combine that with the fact that Greek Mythology stories were one of my favourite things to read as a child and I naturally arrived at the idea of a Medusa photo shoot.

To do this shoot properly I enrolled the services of the very talented Sarah Osmo from Heels and Bows Photography. The amazing Kelli MacAlpine from Misk Designs did the stunning snake effect body art and makeup and the Medusa hair (courtesy of some cheap shop toy snakes). I absolutely adore the fact that there as such talented people in my town that I can collaborate with that also understand my vision of what I hope to achieve and make that a reality. The results, I think you'll agree with me, are nothing short of spectacular!

Meet the products!

 A few of the reasons why I love this product range is firstly that I am upcycling what is essentially a waste product thrown out by most snake owners. Secondly, I get to immortalise the snake through it's shed and allow people to admire it's natural beauty. Last, but definitely not least, I love the symbolism of the snake shed - something that has been outgrown and is now dull and lifeless, is cast off to allow the snake to further grow and shine once more. I think in life we all need to put aside the things we have outgrown and progress into areas where we can shine!

All my REAL snake shed products are ethically obtained from Australian licensed owners that possess all the necessary licenses they require to own the creatures. They provide me with these once the snake has had a natural shed of it's skin. Some sheds may be slightly imperfect due to the nature of life. These just make each piece unique and are little scars that tell a story about the snakes life.
All work and obtaining of sheds/moults is done in accordance with state laws and regulations regarding this process.

The shed or moult is available in: 

Natural tones - The shed is given a treatment to use in the product but no colouring or enhancement is used
Dyed - The shed is treated and then hand dyed using a mixture of 4 or 5 dyes to give a detailed effect while still conveying the natural beauty of the shed and then given a further treatment. Various standard colours available, each dye lot will vary. Custom colouring available on request but may attract an additional charge.
Fused Foil  - The shed is treated and then fused to a specialised foil available in a few different colours. This allows the natural beauty of the shed to stand out against the irridescence of the foil. It gives a similar end result to dichroic glass.

Different species of snakes and lizards are available resulting in different scale patterns and each piece ordered will come with a species identification and care card.

Available in the following forms: pendants, rings, earrings, bracelets, cufflinks, tie clips, hip flasks, brooches and key clips.

To purchase:

You can view examples of the styles available at my website, due to the fact that there are so many colour variations that are achievable it is a representation of what is available and in most cases your item will be constructed once ordered(unless currently in stock).
Alternatively my ETSY and Madeit storefronts have ready to purchase items with postage already calculated.
Want to see them in person? You can find me each month at Global Care Markets in Toowoomba inside their hall.

Finally a HUGE thank you to the talented artisans that helped me on the photo shoot collaboration, I am in awe of your respective talents and it was a pleasure to work with you all!


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Silent but not sleeping.

As you may be aware it has been a VERY long time in between posts! Why is that?

Well in part it is due to having some health matters taken care of last year and the ensuing recovery period that was part of that process. However it has also been because I have been busy with exciting new things!!!

Some of you may know by now that I have begun to create jewellery using REAL snake sheds! This took over 2 months in consultation with the DEHP (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection) and a month long process of refining the techniques involved. I will post more about this next week as I have an exciting photo shoot planned for it and want to highlight those images at the same time.

In the meantime, for those of you that would like to find me in person at a market or event and see the snake shed jewellery in real life... below you will find the details of where I will be this month:

Stay Tuned for more on the Dragon Scale / Snake shed range of products!

Friday, 9 August 2013

Elytra Giveaway!

You may have noticed things have been a bit quiet of late.... over the last few weeks I have had a number of things keeping me busy in my personal life.
BUT - Good News! I am back on deck and celebrating with a giveaway!


What is in the giveaway?

One lucky winner will receive the following great prize:
1 pair of Elytra Thai Jewel Beetle Wing* Earrings in your choice of Brass or Silver findings.

*ethically obtained wings


If the original post on Facebook reaches 50 shares, I will add more to the giveaway!
I will include a matching Elytra beetle wing necklace for the winner!


Entry is super easy!  You must be a fan of our Facebook page.  If you ARE already, confirm just below via Rafflecopter. Or if not LIKE us via Rafflecopter below and confirm.

1 more additional entry can be obtained by subscribing to my newsletter. Click the Newsletter signup tab on the right side bar of this blog and enter your email address.  Again confirm via Rafflecopter stating your email address or already subscribed.
2 additional entries can be gained by sharing the original image on my facebook page. Type shared once you have completed this step.

That's it! 
Entry is open now to Australian residents only who are aged 18 years and over.  
I will cover the cost of shipping to your Australian residential address.  
Entries close at 9.30pm on Friday 16th August 2013.

(NZ residents may enter on the condition that they agree to pay registered postage costs of $22 for delivery of prize, US residents may enter on the condition they agree to pay the $27 for registered postage if they win)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 31 May 2013

Market Stalls & Events - Part 3

My apologies for the delay in posting this but I knew it would be a BIG topic and I needed the time to sit down and do it justice!

Today is the much dreaded, but very important topic.. of what to do when things go wrong!

It's all about perspective!

So you poured your heart and soul into getting ready for the markets and getting stock ready and you feel like all your time and effort was wasted!

Now... first up... before you lament and moan that you had the WORST market EVER! Let us look at a few things from a different perspective to see if it really WAS the worst ever.

The first thing I want to ask is: How many business cards or flyers did you hand out?
As much as we would like markets to be all about a bulging wad of money that we can do snow angels in when we get home, the reality is much different. We need to change our view and see markets as a great source of advertising. We have an opportunity to meet our customers in person, let them touch and feel our products and explain to them why our product is so special. This is SOOOO important as each business card you give out goes home with a potential loyal customer who will fall in love with your brand.

Lots of other things can make us FEEL like it was a bad market day and in fact when we get home and count up our money, sometimes the reality is that it was still a pretty good day. So what is it that can make us think it was the worst day ever?

  • Never, ever compare!!! You might be thinking you are having an amazing day till the stallholder next to you tells you how much they sell. Always keep in mind EVERY business is different and it is easy to feel disheartened that they are selling so much and you are not. This can be for many reasons, product difference included.
  • Atmosphere - Sometimes things around you on the day can affect how you think you went. It might be cloudy or dusty or you may even be next to the stallholder from hell who wants to whinge about every little thing in their life... including this market! Don't let those things affect how you saw the world that day.
  • Baggage - What baggage did you bring with you on the day, were you tired, did you spend the day thinking about how that Uni assignment is not going to write itself, did you wonder if your husband fed and clothed the kids or if they are running around the neighbourhood naked and begging for food? Leave those things at home before you come to market and spend the day thinking about how amazing it is that you get to do this and spend a day doing something that is just for you!

Who's to Blame?!?

OK I am not naive enough to think that you will never have a bad market, in fact I have attended many!
But lets break it down and look at most of the situations that may come up and assess what can or can't be done and who is to blame in each situation.

Blame it on the rain:

By no means am I a Milli Vanilli fan, but I did think this fitted nicely lol!
The weather is one of those things that in reality there is no-one to blame. If it is an outdoor event all you can really do is check the weather forecast in advance and make the decision as it gets closer as to whether you will risk your products or not. Yes, you may have had to pay in advance, however market organisers also have advertising and hire fees to pay and whether or not you attend they still have to pay the bills. So you need to make informed decisions about whether to attend or maybe look for indoor market alternatives.

Very Little Sales:

Now this is the one that cuts the deepest! You pour you heart out into your creations and nothing or very little sells! This can be for a number of reasons.
  • The economy - lets be realistic here.... many families are struggling and if you sell a non essential item like jewellery, well the chances are that your sales may have dropped. There is no-one to blame in this situation, except for maybe the politicians and good luck getting a solution there! What you can do to minimise the issue is to create a cheaper range of products or encourage multi-buys eg. buy 1 for '$x', buy 2 for '$y'. If people are still not able to buy, then simply smile, be friendly and talk to them. They may not be able to buy now, but hopefully down the track you will have made such an impression that they will search you out and purchase from you when times are easier.
  • An unknown - People have a fear of the unknown and like to fully assess a newcomer (especially in rural areas) before they purchase. In general your first market in a particular area or at a particular market will not usually have great sales. There are exceptions to this, but in general this is what I have found to be true. I always try to attend at least 2 markets before I make a judgement call as to whether a market is viable for me and my products. There is no-one to blame in this situation and all you can do is be extremely friendly and talk to everyone and make sure they know that you are someone that is ready to serve them when they choose.
  • Your products - Your products may not be right for the type of clientele at that market or if you sell a seasonal style of product you may have chosen the wrong time of year. For example selling swimwear in winter will probably not get a good result. If you have not made good sales take a quick look at your products and check your prices with friends and family to see if they are reasonable. Did you do your products justice in the way you presented them? Did you have enough stock and enough variety for your customers to choose from? This area relating to products is the one that you have the most control over and you need to constantly assess what reception your products are receiving.
  • Lack of stallholder diversity - Unfortunately sometimes you will attend a market where there may seem to be a glut of similar products to your own. A good market organiser will do their best to ensure this does not happen but these things do happen at times. How can you combat this? Ensure you have a point of difference, work out what it is that sets you apart from the similar stalls and work on promoting that to your customers. Present your stall well and provide a display that really draws the eye. Check the 'feedback' section further down on how to address this if you feel this situation may have been prevented by the organiser by either approving less similar products or by not placing you in an area where you are close to competitors.
  • Your attitude - I love that old saying of "you catch more flies with honey". How you treat your customers and potential customers will directly affect your sales or follow on business. Customers want to see a happy smiling person and someone that is interested in them as a customer. There is a fine line though, that you do not want to cross... do NOT be one of those sales people that customers fear will crash tackle them in the hope of making a sale!
  • Lack of customers - this is one of those hard areas and I will go into that now as the next main area.

Poor Attendance: -

Sadly, I have been at markets where you could fire a shotgun across the room and still not hit a customer!
There are a few reasons why this occurs, some of which can be preventable:

  • The weather - as stated above, the weather can play a large part in customers not attending. Even with an indoor venue if it is a freezing cold, rainy day then most customers will prefer to sit at home in their pj's by the fire. All you can do is hope the next one is a nice sunny day, grab a hot cuppa tea or coffee from the food vendor and have a fun chat to your fellow stallholders. After all, why waste a perfectly good day out of the house away from the shackles of ironing and cleaning!
  • Conflicting Events - Most market organisers will ensure that their event does not clash with any other existing markets in the area prior to working out their dates, however there will be the chance of one-off events every now and again being on the same day. In the case of a new market starting up on conflicting days to other established markets in the area, I would provide feedback to the organisers as they may not be aware of this. This will allow them to look into whether to retain their date or change it. If the one-off event is a large well publicised event there is not much you can do... except try and find out if that event needs stallholders for next year lol.
  • Lack of Advertising or Communication - Sometime a market may be poorly advertised and it may not be clear to the public when it is on. I would definitely provide feedback to allow them the opportunity to rectify the situation. Check the feedback section further down on how this can be done.
  • People forget - I know this sounds silly, but they really do! The town I live in has a market that has been going for years and years and years..... and yet I still hear people ask in surprise 'when is it held?' or even more often 'oh yeah, I forgot that was on last weekend'! There is only so much that a market provider can do to get people to be aware of the market, sometimes people simply do not get the message, even despite driving past the road signs every month.
  • Did you tell people where to find you? - I know this sounds silly, especially in the case of large markets with advertising budgets.... but hear me out. No matter how big an advertising budget a company has, there will always be people that do not see or hear the advertising campaigns. They simply cannot reach everyone, this is why word of mouth is so important in getting things across! If you, and the other stallholders like you, each told 100 people about the market and they all came... how AWESOME would that be! If you don't tell your customers, who are your loyal and repeat clientele, where you will be, it will limit your sales on the day. They are already committed to your product and it is an opportunity to buy from you in person rather than online.  Social media is a great outlet, use it to inform your customers of where to find you. If you get behind the market, your customers will do so also.

Bad Organisation:

(Image of my cufflinks at markets courtesy of Scarlett Studio)

The best laid plans may still fail. There may be times where you arrive at a market and the area you thought you were allocated is no longer yours or the space and conditions are different to what you expected. Sometimes this may be due to stallholders pulling out and needing to reshuffle things or because the weather has altered or made muddy areas that are not suitable for access. The best way to avoid this causing too much stress is to always arrive on time and plan for the unexpected. Always ensure you make a list and check it twice so that you do not forget anything vital for the day.

There are times however, when your organisation is not the issue. I have attended markets and turned up on time only to find that the market organiser has not arrived and there is no one there to tell you where to set up. Or I have turned up and there is a volunteer who has no idea what is going on and what should be happening. Sometimes it is just a simple inconvenience and there is not much you can do, but if the organiser has caused something that has made things very stressful then ensure you give them constructive feedback in relation to it.

Rude Customers or Stallholders:

It can be very disheartening, but I have come to expect at least one rude customer at any given market. This may take the form of someone loudly telling their friend that 'I could make that' or any variant including the dreaded I could make it cheaper or better. What is worse is when they don't say it to their friend, but actually tell it to you after you have shown the item to them and described its great features. I know every inch of your body wants to throw the items in their face and yell at them "So make it then!". However simply smile and mutter something polite and move on to other customers that are more worthy of your time.

I have also noticed over the time I have done markets, that some markets will attract what I affectionately call "Market Nutters", these are those people that are somewhat lacking in their social skills, will loudly and inappropriately comment for all to hear and they make you want to sink below your table and hide till they have passed. What makes it worse is that they seem to never miss the market, yet they never seem to buy anything. My strategy has always been to look busy and talk to other customers in my stall or if all else fails... "smile and wave".

As mentioned earlier in this post rude stallholders can also seriously cloud your view of the day. You may also get rude people or stallholders asking you to tell them who your suppliers are, this is something you worked hard on and it can be a kick in the guts to find that someone expects you to tell them so they can make the item themselves. With all of these rude people, do not let them get to you. Repeat the mantra "smile and wave" to yourself and if all else fails imagine yourself to be Rico the penguin and contemplate what weapon of mass destruction you could throw at them.  **Please note: I do not condone ACTUAL physical violence of any kind**

Feedback: What is the best way to give someone bad news?

If you have looked at all the angles and discovered that 'yes' there were some issues with the market that perhaps the organisers should know about or could rectify, then here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Take a DEEP breath - Before you rush off into battle with all guns blazing, take time to think about what you are going to say. Never act straight away, but go over in your head how best to address the matter so that your emotions are not running so high and you say something you will regret later.
  • "If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all" - I love this saying and it is so important when providing feedback of ANY kind. People are always quick to deliver bad news but can I ask... have you ever told a market organiser what went well and thanked them for a good market? If you do have the intent of saying something negative or constructive, always start with a positive, start with what they did well and then suggest that perhaps this other area may be improved further to meet the high standards they provided in the other areas.
  • Stick to the facts - Never add in anything that you yourself did not experience on the day. How can you give them feedback on something that you are passing on second hand. I am sure those people or stallholders that had those issues will pass that on themselves. Only give feedback on what directly affected your or your customers that raised issues with you.
  • Think about the person you will be addressing - Always tailor your feedback to suit the person you are delivering it to. If it is a market run by volunteers and retirees (as many are), then cut them a bit of slack as in most cases they are trying to do what is best for you but may not have the resources to do so as effectively as other markets. You wouldn't want someone to swear at YOUR Nanna so treat them with the respect they deserve for giving up their time to try and help you have an avenue to sell.
  • Everyone is human - Remember that everyone makes mistakes and no matter how much time the organiser has slaved away on this market there will invariably be something that gets overlooked or crops up unexpectedly on the day. If you are talking to them straight after the market, be aware that they might well be exhausted from a big day too and the last thing they want is confrontation. Tread delicately and wear a reassuring smile.

Now that you have addressed your concerns... go open your cupboard, have a glass of wine, and put the bad day behind you! Think on all the positives that came out of the day and look forward to your next event which will make the bad one seem like a distant memory!

PLEASE NOTE: If a market continues to go in a downward spiral or the organiser is rude or agressive when you politely address your concerns then you may need to weigh up if the market is a viable option for you. There are times when you simply need to cut your losses and look for alternatives that are more suited to you and your products, what works well for one person's products may not suit anothers.


I hope this information has been helpful, stay tuned for the next installment which will be all about "After Market Follow Up".