handmade business

Market reconnaissance mission

Yesterday I took my eldest and went to check out Swagger Child Design Market as a possible second  CalicoApple stall. It was held at the Meat Market in North Melbourne and hosts only Australian handmade and designed children’s things and prides itself on being rather trendy. It’s seasonal, so there are four each year and the next two will be held in Coburg. It’s basically a market for hipster parents.

Hipster food truck

To keep it simple, I thought I’d do a pros and cons list.

Swagger Child Design Market Pros:

  • It’s very specifically handmade only (no second hand).
  • It values upcycling (I use a lot of vintage fabrics, so that counts).
  • There were no bears or dolls there (my style is more traditional than modern and trendy), so at least my stuff would be unique.
  • It’s free entry.


Swagger Child Design Market Cons:

  • It was quite small, I did a full circuit within 15 minutes (I’m not sure whether this is con, perhaps a pro – less competition. Hmmm.)
  • It wasn’t well signed out the front or the area around. Also, I only found out about this through a friend who stumbled across it looking for Mister Maker shows and I’ve done a fair bit of googling for ‘handmade children’s markets’.
  • It wasn’t hugely busy, though that could be in part due to the truly miserable weather.
  • The cost for a stall is $120, so it would take quite a few sales to cover the stall cost and five hours of sitting at a stall.
Excuse the blur – I get a bit nervy photographing the general public

What I’m starting to understand is that markets are no longer the way you make money selling your stuff. Now they are mainly for marketing purposes – so people come in and browse, take your card and then (hopefully) look you up online. In fact the Swagger Child website even says as much: “…make a purchase or two that will no doubt come with the added bonus of epic, subsequent online shopping experiences.”

Perhaps this would work for me, especially since my bears and dolls are not something you would buy on impulse, rather as a special occasion gift such as a baby shower, new birth or for a birthday. But it’s hard to say whether there would be sufficient ROI (ooh, don’t I sound like I know what I’m talking about!).

In trying to fathom my own market demographic, I’m realising that I am myself someone else’s demographic – the aspiring handmade small business owner. It makes me feel a bit vulnerable, but I guess that’s just how it all works and I just need to get smart about where I spend my money for the greatest result.

I might apply for the Coburg event in November, as much for the fact that I simply want to gauge people’s reactions to my things. I guess I just want to see people’s faces when the pick up my teddy bears.

In other news, I’m sharing step-by-step pics of me making a miniature felt teddy bear on Instagram – follow me to watch him come to life!



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