Ardent followers of FLC's social media pages will have noticed that I've attended a good few markets over the past month or so (if it's all passed straight by you, check out the latest posts here, here and here!). As with all new things, presumably the more you do, the better you get at them?
In that case, with one market still to go in 2021 let's take a look at the top three learnings I've made so far...
The ground in Scotland is sometimes wet.
50% of the markets I've attended so far have been outside...in Scotland...in winter. Early starts, shifting massive boxes of stock and setting up the stall each morning may be tiring, but standing outside in the chilly air does seem to add an extra dimension. That said, at my very first outdoor market, at Sterling Mills in Tillicoultry, it actually snowed! With the backdrop of icing-sugar-dusted hills and snowflakes still sprinkling down on happy shoppers, it certainly gave a magical touch to an already delightful day.
With snow comes moisture, and snow does tend to land on the ground. Now, as sustainability is a key element of Falling Leaf Clothing's identity, I keep my stock in the original brown cardboard shippers in which they're sent to me. All very well until you hide these boxes underneath your market stall table for ease of access and safekeeping, only to find that the bases have been gradually wicking water up from the ground and have now turned what can only be described as 'pulpy'. Fortunately, no garments were harmed in the making of this realisation: that the ground in Scotland is sometimes wet, and that a wee tarp underneath at the next market keeps everything safe and dry.
2. Don't eat all your CBD cookies at once.
My neighbour for day one of the Sterling Mills market was the lovely Happy Hempers, who kindly shared some of their delicious cookies with me. Having already scoffed a pain au chocolat, some gingerbread and a gloriously warmed mince pie from my parents that day, I decided to save them as a treat for day two...
Having smugly set up my stall in double-quick time the following day, I realised that part of the reason I was a bit early was probably because I'd forgotten to eat breakfast, only remembering to make myself a quick coffee in a thermos to keep me warm (and add some CBD oil to test my new purchase from the Happy Hempers). Rummaging through my bag turned up a couple of packets of the aforementioned cookies, which my rumbling stomach insisted I ate immediately. All of them.
I can't confirm whether what followed was chemical or psychosomatic, but a strong - and not particularly profit-friendly or productive - feeling of well-being lasted me the entire morning, as I chuckled my way through each purchase made at the neighbouring Novelty Naughty But Nice chocolate stall where people were ordering "two t*ssers, a f*cker and a tw*t please!".
Fortunately it was a quiet Sunday morning so I'd sorted myself out by the time the afternoon crowds arrived, but I did learn: don't eat all your CBD cookies at once - grab some porridge before you set off. Though I certainly didn't seem to feel the cold quite so much that morning...
3. The personal touch is nice, but sometimes it pays to outsource.
As a brand new...brand, keeping costs down is paramount so I can both survive, and keep my pricing fair, and giving customers that personal touch has always been important to me. For those reasons, I print my own seed paper garment tags, cut and hole-punch them, tie them to the garments with jute string, as well as hand printing each paper carrier bag used at the markets to ensure they're solvent-free and recyclable.
As someone who enjoys crafts, these tasks are pleasurable when undertaken of a quiet evening, with a mulled wine to hand and some festive music in the background. Not quite so pleasurable after a full day of outdoor trading, when your fingers are still defrosting and you urgently need another 50 bags and tags for the following morning, but also need some sleep!
I'm gradually realising the benefit of some good quality, local subcontracting. While the personal touch is nice, when time is short, and you find that you're printing things upside-down and back-to-front due to tiredness and *cookies*, sometimes it pays to outsource...though knowing this fact and acting upon it are two very different things, as I'm not a great one for delegating. Something to work on - always space for self-improvement!
Linds @ FLC x
Have you learned anything from any markets you've attended? Do you have any suggestions even if not? Drop me a note at email@example.com or comment/DM on our Facebook or Instagram to share your hard-earned wisdom!