Tag Archives: Somerset West Country Craft Market

patchwork pants, unicorns, leather straps and coffee

Quickpix from yesterday’s market at Somerset West:

Hands need to be busy if I’m not occupied with customers or friends. Crochet is still too uncomfortable with my gammy right hand but I can manage a bit of knitting. This is a long length of garter stitch which will eventually be joined to other long lengths of garter stitch and turned into a blanket for someone who needs one.

knitting

Extremely desirable cotton patchwork pants worn by someone strolling along – she told me where she bought them (Langebaan) and how much they cost (R250), and how often people commented on them. She said, You should make some, they’d sell like hot cakes. I said I wouldn’t put so much work into something that I couldn’t sell for a really decent price, so she should just take them off and let me have them immediately. Oddly, she didn’t go for that but at least I have a pic to remember them.

patchwork pants

I had a brief text chat with Martli: she’s making amigurami unicorns and sent me this pic of the little darlings lined up on her windowsill. Aren’t they divine?!

Martli unicorns

And then, my second greatest pleasure of the morning: seeing what leather straps look like on my patchwork tote. It’s a prototype, of course, I’m still working on getting the right size and how best to put the zip in at the top, but in the meantime I’d asked Faranaaz to come up with leather straps so I could keep going with the idea. Faranaaz is the “bag lady” next to me at the market, she and her aunt make beautiful simply-designed leather bags and purses that sell very well (I have a few myself, of course….)

leather straps

My biggest pleasure of the morning turned out to be a loooooong conversation with someone I’d met a couple of years ago at the same market, a lovely lady called Lisa. We talked about children and divorce and men and work and didn’t realise that time was even passing. Thanks for the coffee and the chat, Lisa, hope to see you when you’re next in the southern suburbs :)

 

So, it’s really spring again already!

I know this because tomorrow is the first market day of the new 2017/2018 season at the Country Craft Market in Somerset West.

country craft market.jpg

The Country Craft Market differs from other markets in and around Cape Town because it is a true CRAFT market, not a flea/food/farmers market. This means that everything has to be hand-made and that the artists/crafters themselves attend the market.

The range of items that a trader wants to sell requires approval from the organisers in advance. This prevents having too many stalls selling very similar things, and also prevents the syndrome of “imported product creep-in”.

I’m looking forward to starting the new season, in my permanent stand (#26) under the oak trees. The weather seems set to be just right, and my fellow traders are all lovely. I’m keen to see what they’ve all been working on over the past winter. Me? Same same, with the pillowcases and the bedspreads, but now also with patchwork cushions. These three are hot off the sewing machine:

 

me and my camera

Saturday morning at the Country Craft Market in Somerset West was my first market of the year.  I haven’t been a vendor there for very long, and yet these mornings it feels like it’s going to visit friends! There are so many people there who are already special to me, I thought I’d share some pics:

theresa3

Theresa

theresa6

bag heaven

theresa4

more bag heaven. The fabric on this one is actually lime but my pic is lousy. I am still hankering after this one!

Theresa of Theresa Jane Textiles creates the most stunning bags and cushions from all kinds of bits and pieces, and puts them together like a professional.  My heart said Buy all the bags Buy all the bags, but I had to listen to my head (which keeps tabs on my finances) so I restrained myself and bought just one shoulder bag, which is now my Official Market Money Bag.

theresa5

Me with my new bag

Sipiwe makes and sells ceramic items, always a winner with tourists

Sipiwe and his vibrant ceramics

Sipiwe designs and makes his own ceramic pieces, and I can assure you that it’s not only tourists who line up to buy them.

Michelle from Baillie and Kovar Design. She and her partner Malcolm have such an original take on recycled wood and tiles that market organisers and retailers approach them – for the rest of us, it’s the other way around!

Kerstin of Manor House Alpaca in Franschhoek. I've never met anyone with the kind of energy this girl has, also separate blog post coming up soon.

Kerstin of Manor House Alpaca in Franschhoek. I’ve never met anyone with the kind of energy this girl has, a whole post devoted to her is coming up soon.

Daniel, Kerstin's 6-month old baby. The happiest chap I ever did meet!

Daniel, Kerstin’s 6-month old baby. The happiest chap I ever did meet!

Alpaca - drool.....

Alpaca – drool…..

dolls clothes

Lee, the lovely lady with the doll’s clothes, who also happens to be related to a big pal of mine, Coral-Leigh. Talented and entrepreneurial family, this lot.

walking sticks

Uncle Bob’s walking sticks.

Uncle Bob is a cornerstone of the Country Craft Market and, despite his love of chatting and telling jokes, he refused to have his photo taken. Nee, my skat, daai kamera lens gaan breek! (No, my dear, that camera lens will crack)

In other news, I’m busy with the new blog for The Carpenter’s Shop. If any of you lovely readers feel like popping over, it’s here, and we would certainly welcome some followers. Nudge nudge.

Back soon x

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

ballet pink

A lovely new customer found me at the Somerset West Country Craft Market last Saturday, and I’m making a beret for her in Vinni’s Cotton in Ballet Pink. It’s similar to the mustard one I had on display (seems mustard isn’t a popular colour, who knew!)

It feels like a long long time since I used a 3mm hook for anything, but I’m enjoying the change:

beret pink

And I’m using this pattern by Luba Davies:

lilac

I’ll be working on this while watching Madiba’s memorial service in Johannesburg at 11h00:

maverick

Back soon x