12 December 2013

The Summer Christmas Company - and my first market

Right peeply-deeplers, it's been a while since I showed what I've been up to lately on the creative front. I have always wondered what it would be like to make things to sell, but never had the courage to try it. Until recently. A friend of mine has launched a new business called the Summer Christmas Company. There are a range of non-traditional festive decorations and wares that evoke the fun and frivolity of summer as opposed to the more typical Northern Hemisphere winter wonderland Christmas scenes. Her simple, stylised decorations are a direct influence of native New Zealand flora and fauna.  Here are a couple of my absolute favourites:

Pohutukawa wreath, anyone?
These lightweight plywood decorations, sold in packs of three or half a dozen, could be strung together as a garland or individually hung on a tree and would make great gifts to send to loved ones overseas as a reminder of home.
I have known Mela for years, she is an absolute dynamo and she has designed all of these decorations herself. There are both plywood and acrylic options and she also sells plywood Christmas trees, and an acrylic LED version. Everything, right down to the packaging, is made right here in the A of the tearoa. I know this sounds like a sponsored post, it's not, I just really want to support her novel idea.

Quite unexpectedly, she asked me to help make some items to complement her fledgling business and with it being summer market season, my kitchen table went into serious production mode over the last few weeks. I gave away small glimpses of my makings on Instagram. She asked me to sew some Christmas stockings and bunting and I made some Santa sacks too, which was a nod to my own childhood when we would place a pillowcase at the end of our bed. Some of the products are in soft, muted tones with a bit of a Kiwiana feel, and most items were made using fun, bright prints rather than traditional Christmas colours and I hoped that this would be their point of difference.

Having never made things to sell before, it was really hard to know if there was even a market for these items, but I guess the only way of knowing was to put them out there and see what happened. What did happen? I shared the stall with Mela and while she made a couple of sales, I sold nothing. Zip. Zilcho. Nada. Niente. Unless you count Mela's lovely friend and her sister who bought a couple of bags and a stocking respectively a day or two after the market - and for the sake of my confidence, I am totally counting them. Ha!
So, now that the worst thing that could happen has happened, I'm feeling buoyant, and would love to try another market. Obviously, I am not planning to sell Christmas stockings in January, because that would be stupid. Unless any Russians want them? Did that last bit make me sound quite ignorant? I'm kidding, we all know the Russian children leave out their empty vodka bottles. Now I'm really going to burn in hell.

On the whole, my first market experience has steeled me for the customers who have no filter at all and quite happily stand across from me and tell their friend that they could make it themselves for much less (that didn't actually happen, my overactive imagination ran through a few of these pre-market scenarios). The old me (the 2 weeks ago old me) would have cried into my bunting and then felt a strong urge to punch someone in the face, which would not work very well for repeat business. The new post-market me has fallen in love with the vibe of the market experience and being around enthusiastic and positive artisans. I did get the sense that many, if not all of the buyers who came through the market, were looking for bargains (as in let's haggle the price down to zero profit margin for the seller), but that is probably a whole other blog post.


  1. Oh markets. I tried them. Once. Got the same feeling- people want rock bottom prices unfortunately.

    I think your makes are just lovely and I hope that your next markets (because your stuff is too awesome not to make an encore appearance) are waaayyy more successful! I did notice that people liked to buy smaller things (or you entice the kids in to plead with the parents to buy the awesome teeny pouch or Christmas tree ornament ;) ).

  2. Your things are beautiful Leanne and you have great taste in fabric and design. I tried markets for several months and by the end of it I was disheartened by the whole experience. If you treat markets as a fun experience and enjoy making the things to sell I think they are a great way of socialising with other creative people, but I decided that in terms of them being a money making venture it wasn't going to work for me. Much more satisfying to make whatever I wanted for my family and friends than be up until midnight feeling stressed and making stuff for markets that I wasn't necessarily going to sell much at. But I know that you know all that stuff yourself and if you want to go into markets for the fun of it - go for it!

  3. Oh god.... this: "Did that last bit make me sound quite ignorant? I'm kidding, we all know the Russian children leave out their empty vodka bottles." just totally made me laugh. I live with a Russian (my sister's husband) and I SO want to read that to him and see how he reacts. (He's an alcoholic, a total vodka swilling stereotype, which makes me a bigger a-hole for wanting to do it: my sister might kill me though. Certainly I'd have to find somewhere else to live.)

  4. Your things look lovely Leanne, it is such as shame that you didn't get some good sales. I think that people are all too happy to claim they could make it for less, but how many of them actually do it - very few I bet - and if they did they would realise that they couldn't make it for less, especially including the cost of their time. I think that this problem is pretty universal though, so don't take it to heart to much. They get used to cheap tat and don't realise that things like yours are good quality that will last far longer than the rubbish they buy. Sorry, cross on your behalf!! Hope that if you have another go it works well for you. xx

  5. Don't get me started on markets... I've had a few flops in my time so I know how that feels. It is a little addictive though.

  6. Don't get discouraged! You just need the right venue. I've been doing shows for the last 2 1/2 years and have had a show where my sales totaled $5 and another where they were over $1000. Good luck!!!

  7. haha having helped a friend with her markets recently I can fully appreciate the stress!! and the excitement of it all - there is always someone out there who will like your stuff, and they look pretty darn lovely to me! Your friend's creations are awesome too :)