I’ve been running my little business at markets since 2001 and I’ve always been delighted by the number of the businesses at market being run by women. We are in the majority. Yes, there are some male market business owners but they are usually running the business in partnership with their wife.
These small businesses are often the sole or main income provider for the household, they are based on creative products made locally by the people who run the market stall. My business definitely fits this definition.
As makers, artists and artisans we need time during the week to actually create what we sell and run the business. While being at market lets us talk directly to our supporters, our customers. We get to find out what they want, what’s important to them and what they are up to (the customer journey).
This is really important as a marker because it influences your designs, the work you spend hours on to design and make to sell so you can keep earning your living as an artisan.
Most of us don’t have bricks and mortar shop fronts, preferring the alternative options available to us with markets, online selling and wholesaling to stockists.
This doesn’t really fit with the conventional view of either an artisan or a market stall. Many people seem to think that artisans can’t financially survive in this country any more and that there is such a dearth of support for creative people and that markets are just a hobby.
At The Rocks Markets there are 150 stall holders every Saturday and Sunday who prove such ideas to be wrong.
To make a living from your market stall you need to be very organised and run the business properly. Most of use make at home, having a space we have as a studio and storage area for components. The GFC knocked around our sales and many of us had to give up our external studios to reduce our costs but things are starting to improve again (it takes such a long time for things to recover after you’ve cut things back to the bone to survive).
I think there is more societal acceptance of women being creative than men being creative. Men are expected to take the more conventional route to generating an income whereas women are allowed to express their creativity more. I see this play out at market every weekend from both customers and stall holders.
This is why, I believe, that there are more women with their own market stall business. The size of these enterprises varies greatly but from what I know about discussions amongst ourselves over 80% of the business provide for the majority of income for the household. This is not a hobby, this is about providing for the family.
So if you’re ever needing a healthy dose of inspiration about what’s possible with a creative business get along to one of the leading markets of the country and have a good look. Sure, there are stall holders there who attend once a month and it is an outlet for them to sell some original creations so they can keep paying for supplies and there are others who are there every weekend, selling their designs and supporting their household (and every variation in between).
When I have someone at my stall complaining about the lack of support for creativity in this country I am always puzzled, I point out that there are 150 small creative businesses all around them that are only there because of the ongoing support we receive from visitors who shop with us. Without customers – people who come to market to shop for presents and something different for themselves – we all wouldn’t be there. This is always an eye opener to them, a new idea that gets them thinking.
So next time you are seeking real life examples of creative women putting themselves out there with their original designs and making a go of it just get along to market and have a good look around. I guarantee you’ll love it!