Cape Town loves its markets. Apart from the weekly or monthly farmers markets and craft markets and vintage markets and trendy-food markets, approximately 40 ‘special’ Christmas/gift markets also happen every year, between October and December. These can run from three to twelve days, depending on the venue and the organisers. Everyone’s products are bar-coded, and there’s a central purchase point. The traders go in at various times and restock, and also help out with the supervision.
To get accepted for one of these special markets, you have to apply online and then attend an “approval day”, usually during May or early June. You and three million other hopefuls set up a mini-display so that the organisers can see the quality of your products and your prices. They’re interested in the prices because, apart from paying a trading fee, you also pay a commission on your sales, usually between 15% and 20%. The more popular the product, the more money made by the market people. (Note: many of these markets are run by churches or large charity organisations – a large percentage of the money raised goes towards community upliftment.)
I have had my hats at a couple of festive markets now and, frankly, they haven’t sold as well as I anticipated. I’ve decided this is because people are mainly looking for gifts for other people at this time of year – if you aren’t sure that the intended recipient likes that particular colour or that the size is right, a different item would be a safer bet.
So, in my wisdom, three days before the recent Approval Day for six different markets, I took it upon myself to design and create an entirely new product: handprinted cotton pillow cases. In a frenzy of experimentation, I tried out different linens, colours, inks, designs and labels. I sewed, printed, ironed, washed, packed, and did it all again many times before getting it as right as it was ever going to be in that short space of time.
I could only get the rabbits and the paisley design ready initially:
but since then I’ve found Gareth at I Love Screenprinting in Obs, and he made me a beautiful screen with my text designs:
There are more coming: Sleep Tight, Dream On, Sleepyhead and – a suggestion from an ex-colleague which is too good to resist – Give Me Some Head.
And, no, I haven’t forgotten about the hats for Grahamstown. I did a stock-take today, please see the updated counter on the right !