Finders Keepers 12/2014 + Lessons Learnt

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If you happened to be following P+P towards the end of last year you'll know that in December I held my debut market stall. It was an absolute whirlwind getting ready and as we were packing items and loading up the car on the first day, the nerves really set in and I had to laugh out loud... me and my crazy, out-of-my-comfort-zone dreams! Whose idea was it anyway to hold my first market stall at one of Sydney's biggest markets? Oh wait - actually, that would be my husband's!

I was always a bit hesitant about setting up a market stall because I wasn't sure that the return on investment would be worth the time and cost of holding a stall. But hubby eventually convinced me that it would be a good experiment. At the very least I would get a better idea of whether they're worth doing. So running my first market stall became one of my major goals for 2014.

As I sat there waiting for the doors to open and for the first flood of market-goers to arrive, leg bouncing like crazy, I tried to assure myself: This is no biggie, Miranti.

Thankfully the weekend ended up being an absolute joy! I loved getting a chance to talk to customers face-to-face and geek out with budding letterers. I loved being among other indie artists and designers and getting the chance to chat with them about their work. I was thrilled to have S by my side and supporting me the entire weekend (not to mention having him build my gorgeous stall) and a girlfriend of mine also dropped by over the weekend to lend a hand. I felt content, in my element, and all grown up.

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I came away from my market experience having learnt 3 things...

1. My work is not for everyone.

Some loved my work... my heart filled with so much joy seeing people giggle and point when they spotted a card or a print that spoke to them! While others walked on by without a second glance. I've come to understand that this is a good thing. I want my work to speak to those who get me and get what I'm about.

2. A successful market is more than just the number of items sold.

Given that this market was such a big investment for my little studio, I initially found myself getting caught up in wanting to make $(x) amount more than I invested. It wasn't until I sat at my stall and started chatting to people about not only my lettering work but their love for lettering and their own lettering practice that I came to understand the value of these connections. We ended up selling out of a lot of items and still only managed to break even. But my mindset has shifted now and I have a much better understanding of the longer term impact of running a market stall. And since then, the number of P+P followers and newsletter subscribers has exploded, and I've been getting a lot more enquiries about my work.

3. Comparison is not always a bad thing.

I got the chance to look at other print stores and really took the time to think about how my work differed to theirs. And not at all in the sense of which was better. Seeing my work next to the work of other designers in my niche gave me much more clarity about what I do, who I create for and why.

So was it worth doing after all? Yes.

Will I be holding more stalls in the future? Potentially. I have everything I need to run more stalls so it's definitely not out of the question. I just want to be really intentional about choosing a market that's in line with what P+P stands for.

Stay tuned!

xo M