This morning I woke up to the following Instagram post from the very inspiring Simone Eyles from Working Spaces HQ in Wagga Wagga.
“Being copied is not a form of flattery. It’s a sign of laziness.
If you have no imagination and creativity, don’t copy me, there’s enough room for both our awesomeness. Be bold and find your own.”
As a market manager Simone’s post spoke to me …
I now find myself sitting by the fire with my laptop, having thrown away my all important to-do list, and writing about something that is very important in the market industry.
River & Wren Boutique Markets is a curated boutique handmade market based in Wagga Wagga, in country NSW in Australia.
When I created River & Wren I thought that it would just be something for me to do in my spare time. But no! The market has become more than just a full time job. It has devoured my almost every single waking moment. The market is my passion and I have written about that before.
The market will never make me a financially wealthy woman but I feel incredibly rich to be surrounded by such a beautiful group of creative people. I also feel incredibly blessed that our local community has embraced River & Wren and supports handmade in a very big way!
I am overwhelmed when I hear that people travel from far and wide to come to River & Wren. Not only do people travel several hours from within our region to come to the market, we have developed such a fabulous reputation as a country handmade market that people from as far as Sydney plan trips to Wagga around a River & Wren market. So not only does the market and our very clever creators benefit, so do other Wagga businesses. Visitors stay in local motels, eat at restaurants and cafes, shop in town and visit other tourist attractions while they are here.
I believe that River & Wren is so popular and has been embraced by the community because we filled a gap in the market for a high quality artisan handmade market. I knew my passion, I knew my skills as an organiser, I did my research and I filled a gap in the ‘market’ market.
I ‘get’ that because we are lucky enough to have amazing crowds spill through our doors, who are happy to spend their money, that an overwhelming number of small businesses want to attend River & Wren as a stall holder. That thrills me!
River & Wren is a curated market which means that attendance at the market is by application. I then put together a market of diverse artisan products so that each market shop has an opportunity to do well at the market. As an indoor market we are limited in size. In the warmer months we have outdoor shops as well but we still limit the number of market shops in each of our product categories.
All markets have ‘regular’ stall holders. River & Wren has many regular creators who are loved and supported by our community. In fact, when one of our regulars is unable to attend a market, I am always asked why they’re not there! Despite the regulars, every River & Wren market is different. We always have new creators at every market.
For example, one of our new creators at our Winter Wonderland market last Sunday was Amanda Matheson. Amanda contacted me asking if her galvanised piping and wood creations would be suitable for River & Wren. She sent me photos and I almost fell off my chair with excitement! Amanda’s creations were so original and so well made that of course I found a place for her. River & Wren was Amanda’s first market and she had an amazing day! She had found a gap in the market and her products just walked out the door.
An Amanda Matheson unique galvanised piping creation.
Another example is Sam from Ohh Bull Dust. Despite some physical challenges, Sam hand dyes Australian merino wool and makes scarves, beanies, ponchos, headbands, blankets and now felted hair clips and hair ties. Sam has been with us for two markets now and is already a market favourite. In fact, Sam almost sold out at last Sunday’s market and I saw so many people walking around the market wearing one of Sam’s scarves. Me included!
A hand dyed Ohh Bull Dust merino wool scarf.
So if you are a creator of handmade, find your own awesomeness. Find your passion, know your skills, take the time to find a unique product, research whether there is a ‘market’ for your product, work hard and have a positive mindset. Be original! Don’t copy what someone else does or is already available at River & Wren (or any other market where you want to sell). Be kind and respectful.
If you have a small business that is not handmade, unfortunately River & Wren is not the market for you. You need to find other markets that accept non-handmade products. But please don’t apply to attend River & Wren and then be disappointed when you are politely told why you are unable to attend. We make no secret that we are a handmade market only.
River & Wren is all about supporting handmade and providing a friendly, happy, kind and fun environment for creators to showcase and sell their gorgeous creations.
We found our own awesomeness and I am very excited that River & Wren is about to celebrate its 3rd birthday!