Category Archives: Jam Tarts

where I live

Only in the world’s best city, according to The Telegraph !

cape town

Just thought I’d share that with you all :-)

This afternoon I’m taking Carol and Grommit to the incredibly beautiful winelands of Franschhoek, (about 45 mins away) to set up at the La Paris wine farm for three days of Festival in the Valley.  I’m excited and nervous (what if no-one likes my hats? what if no-one even comes? what if thousands of people come and like my hats and I’m understocked? what if they run out of wine?) so please hold thumbs.

Ah, the joys of being an informal trader.



other end of the spectrum

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you sometimes get such amazingly wonderful customers at markets that you almost want to give your stuff away to them for free. Saturday brought me one of these people:

tara 1

Tara has dreads so the bigger newsboy look is perfect. She found me through her friend Danny**, who owns six of my hats, and they both came to the Edgemead market to check out the new stock. She sent me some photos of herself later that afternoon, wearing one of her two new hats.

Tara 11 tara 22

I know, right?!  Anyone who looks this good in a Jam Tarts hat should be the one getting paid (and she’s beautiful on the inside, too).

** and this is Danny, whose face could also launch a thousand ships:

danny crimson newsboy


Darling 2014

Darling is a tiny little town about an hour’s drive from Cape Town, up the West Coast. There are two main festivals there every year, one based on the amazing spring flower display in late September (here) and the other in early September around theatre, music and food. In other words, Voorkamerfest!!!

Rob and I went up there this year, to see what it would be like to trade at a 3-day party event in a slightly different part of the world. It was like this:


Packed! Mostly sunshine-y weather (could have sold more sunhats!) during the day, and at night…


well, at night lots of people have had lots to drink enjoyed sampling the wide variety of locally produced beer and wine on offer, so they’re easy customers. Gordon, above, got caught by a Stinky Fish on the Friday night, but he was still wearing it 24 hours later – he must have either genuinely loved it or still been drunk. Great guy, Gordon. Quite a party animal.


Saturday evening – I’m with Mercia, the event organiser, who was finally able to relax and enjoy the festival herself and try on hats in an unhurried fashion.

We had brilliant accommodation with the lovely Anneline, who made us feel like we were at home (but in a good way). We shared info with other traders, made new friends, and caught the sun on our faces. We sold LOTS of hats…and on Sunday night, I slept for 12 hours straight.

Already looking forward to next year :-)

some thoughts on being a market trader #2

As a follow-on to an earlier post, here are some more things to think about if you’re wanting to start selling at markets.  If you google “trading at craft markets”, you’ll find a thousand more opinions and ideas. This is just my small contribution (based on personal experience, and many mistakes and oversights!), and interspersed with random pics taken at various markets over the last couple of years.

The lovely carpet lady at Rondebosch Market

The lovely carpet lady at Rondebosch Market

1.  Tell people that you’re going to be trading at a market. Yes, I know, you’re thinking doh , but you really need to do this systematically to make the most of your trading window.

  •  Send out a newsletter a week in advance, to all your subscribers. (You don’t do a newsletter yet? See #2 below, get yourself a free account with Mailchimp and get cracking).
  • Post about the upcoming market on your facebook page, also about a week in advance. Keep it short and sweet, and include an image of one of the products you’ll be selling.
  • If you tweet, do that too.  I have a twitter account but the bug hasn’t actually bitten yet, and all I’m really doing with it is following Tom Jones and Alan Rickman. 
  • Post again on your facebook page on the morning of the market : people have so much going on in their lives, this is a gentle reminder that it’s today.
  • If you blog, give the upcoming market a mention there as well.  Include a link to the market’s fb page and site.
  • Ditto for your website, if you have one.
Barry the wooden spoon man, at Rondebosch Market

Barry the wooden spoon man, at Rondebosch Market

2.  Take a pad of paper and pen with you to the market so you can write down the email addresses of people who say they would like to receive your newsletter, when you tell them you have one.  If the person has just bought something from you, then you’ve already got a connection to build on, and even if they haven’t bought from you, they’ve shown interest.  Everyone is a potential customer.

Laura from Fabulaura with her gifts and jewellery, setting up on a cold morning in Rondebosch

Laura from Fabulaura with her gifts and jewellery, setting up on a cold morning in Rondebosch

3.  Take a stack of business cards; give them to customers , window-shoppers and also other vendors.  I can’t stress that last group enough — it’s really vital to connect with the other vendors because it’s how you start networking and hearing about other markets and opportunities.  I ended up at the V&A Waterfront for a month because I’d once started chatting to a lady who knits baby caps and booties. I heard about the review date for new crafters at the Somerset West market because of a connection with Steve, the guy who makes hangy things from wood, whom I’d met at the Rondebosch market. Honestly, you never know where things can lead…

crochet and button accessories at the Nazareth House Family Fun Day

crochet/button rings at the Nazareth House Family Fun Day (and yes, of couse I bought some!)

4.  Once you’ve set up your stall and had a well-deserved cup of coffee (take your own flask, by the way, it’s cheaper and quicker), don’t think you can collapse onto your camping chair and get lost in your crochet for the duration of the market.   Some people will indeed come beetling over to you when something catches their eye, and you can take it from there. But many people won’t see you at all (because there a hundred other things to look at, or they urgently need the loo and are in search of the nearest one, or because the vendor across the way has a MORE eye-catching display than you do) and will walk past…. Try not to think What ignorant fools are here today, can’t they see how awesome my products are, how professionally made, how lovingly displayed…. Instead, show initiative and be ready to interact:

  • As someone walks nearby, say hello or good morning and smile (at least they’ll turn their head).
  • Do your crocheting where you’re visible – it’s a great way to get people to come over and connect with you; they’ll say things like Oh my god my gran used to crochet or I wish I could learn, and bam you’re chatting.
  • Get up and rearrange some of your products from time to time.  Shake out and refold a blanket, swop the red hats with the blue ones, etc. The action alone may catch someone’s eye.
market pic

someone’s mom bought her a new hat (made by Anne)

Having said all this, remember that the most important thing of all is to be natural. Don’t force yourself to be something you aren’t comfortable with. If you feel weird calling out some Good mornings, rather just smile instead. If you aren’t a naturally talkative or overly-extrovert person, don’t try to act like one, but be ready to talk about your products and how you make them in a way that feels right for you.

Gosh, how I can rabbit on! Looking at the notes I’ve jotted down, turns out I have more things to say on this topic than I’d anticipated, but don’t worry – I’ll keep them for another post.  

Wishing you all an excellent and productive day xxx


some thoughts on being a market trader

Yesterday we were at the Somerset West Country Craft Market, and our neighbours were a couple selling baby products and wooden toys. We hadn’t met them before and, as one does, ending up chatting quite a bit. The husband told me that they weren’t doing particularly well at the market and thought they’d give it up. I’ve been thinking over our conversation, and here are some thoughts about trading at markets (for what it’s worth!) And to avoid a boring text-only post, I’m chucking in some arb pics of the day….

Even though these proteas are dried, they don't lose their incredible colour

Even though these proteas are dried, they don’t lose their incredible colour

1. Don’t give up on a particular market until you’ve traded there at least three times. It takes customers and other vendors time to get to know you and remember what you are selling, and that’s the only way to build up sales over the long term.

2. You might need to try more than one market in the same general area, because there are so many variables. If a particular market in, say, Rondebosch isn’t working for you (after 3 or more tries), it doesn’t mean that you won’t do well at the Baxter market down the road, which attracts a different age group and is on Saturdays instead of Sundays.

Beaded arts and crafts - can anyone ever get enough of this stuff !?

Beaded arts and crafts – can anyone ever get enough of this stuff !?

3. Try a market in a different area. For example, in Cape Town, customers who come to the Kirstenbosch Market in the southern suburbs don’t usually also visit the Country Craft Market in Somerset West, which is in the northern suburbs, and has a completely different customer profile.

4. Don’t get despondent if you have a bad day. Yes, much easier said than done (trust me, I know!), but you CANNOT LET THAT BRING YOU DOWN. If you’ve planned your stall and given it your best, then bad sales could be due to the weather, to a public holiday, to a range of things you have no control over. That’s just the way it is. Believe that the next time will be better. Everyone has bad days, even traders who’ve been doing it for fifteen years!

wooden hippos

wooden hippos

5. Avoid the temptation to pack too many items into your stall. We fell into this trap over and over in the first few months of trading. Yes, you are a creative genius and all your products are stunning, so I know you want to display every single thing you’ve ever made — but don’t. An over-busy display will mind-boggle the people just strolling past, and they won’t be able to focus on a single item. They will walk past. If you can attract them your way with something really eye-catching and striking, then you can tell them about the other colours and sizes, and your ideas for crocheting a rocket ship.

6. Use blackboards or printed notices to display prices or what the item is. People wandering around markets are distracted by all the activity and bustle, and may also be trying to keep an eye on their rug rats/spouses/dogs, so you need to make things really easy for them. For example, on one side of a row of house slippers, I put a little blackboard that says “House slippers, 100% cotton and slip-proof”, and on the other side “R135 = perfect xmas gift”. A lot of people don’t like to ask the price of an item, and some people don’t even want to engage much with the vendor, it makes them feel pressured. Make it as painless as possible!

The t-shirt lady's amazing jacket

The t-shirt lady’s amazing jacket

I have many more thoughts, but really don’t want to bore you. Maybe I’ll do a ‘Thoughts #2’ post later in the week?

Back soon x