Tag Archives: Somerset West

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:

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Theresa

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bag heaven

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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.

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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:

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

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Back soon x

There’s a recession on?

If most of us are looking for new ways to cut monthly costs and budget more efficiently (baked beans on toast, anyone?) (cycle to work, maybe?), no-one seems to have told the good people of Somerset West. Yesterday evening Anne and Megan treated me to a trip to the opening of the now very famous Kamersvol Geskenke at the Lourensford Wine Estate out in that verdant, rich part of the Western Cape. (Kamersvol Geskenke is Afrikaans for Rooms full of gifts).

It was the most stupendous and overflowing cornucopia of gorgeous handmade art, craft, clothing, jewellery, furniture, gardens, just…EVERYTHING …that I have ever seen. The quality of the products was just incredible, and the place was PACKED to capacity. The tills and credit card machines were struggling under the pressure, and there was no sign of any let-up by closing time at 8pm.

I’ve managed to restrict myself to a few photos here, to give you a rough idea.

And to think I might not have gone at all if the girls hadn’t pushed me.
To be continued…