Updated: May 8
First ever market - dodging the overwhelm and enjoying the moment
On Saturday I did my first market stall. I decided to be brave - step out of my comfort zone and view it as a chance to gain some valuable insight, experience and feedback. I enjoy building trust and confidence with my community online, now is the time to try face to face!
I came across a local market being advertised by ‘Not On Amazon’. I have followed their page on Facebook since lockdown and really equate to their motivation. Their main focus is on providing a platform for Artisan business owners to promote their work. It is refreshing to have such an easy, friendly and down to earth platform where you can find all kinds of treasures made by creatives in the UK.
With my Mum on board taking care of all logistics and organisation, I felt much more able to do this! Keeping organised has never been my strong point (although, I am learning some superb techniques since understanding my ADHD brain so much better) so I concentrated on my products. What did I want to showcase? How did I want to convey the beauty of my brand? What ideas could I bring to this experience?
How and where to start?!
Cue creative time! This of course means task starting made much easier, plus without so much of the paralysis due to admin and paperwork panic. It did mean though, that amongst the anxiety and overwhelm, I gave myself some huge projects to complete. It is incredible how working to a deadline means completing month old tasks! I dug out my daughter’s vinyl cutter and heat press printer from when she ran her own clothing line. The plan was to make some tees and aprons for the market / Mother’s Day. Naturally and in true ADHD style, this led to new bath salts, candles, bottle prints and sample sets! Making, designing, researching, creating; my happy place and I am in my element. It gets me inspired, encourages my sense of achievement and is a really good distraction technique from the anxiety and overwhelm pit. It did however pile a huge more tasks on to my list!
Sometimes it helps to just pause
I was extremely anxious in the week leading up to the market – I didn’t know what to expect, how it would be, whether it would be busy, noisy, if my health and pain levels would be alright. All the extras that can throw me off course and sometimes send me into burn out or overload before, after or during. Feeling prepared helped, having my Mum take care of planning really helped, having my new VA (Virtual Assistant) Sarah on board really helped too. With their support, I focused on what I could do to make this easier for me, how I could do that, and in turn help me get the most out of it.
The unexpected learning journeys are often the greatest
Like a whole new unknown, we were in fact ready to go and packed two days before - I went with the feeling of disorientation as my standard format is organised chaos! To keep me occupied, I created a folder which I have now named my ‘Skincare Bible’. A major anxiety trigger of mine is memory recall and face to face talking. I find articulating my knowledge difficult on the spot and communicating, especially with people I don’t know and about something I am so passionate about, confusing. So I figured, if I prepare myself some more maybe that would take the edge off things. As it happens, not once did I need the folder of information for reference. I think the usefulness was in the process and just knowing it was there!
We arrived and got to work setting up. The place was bright, spacious and very accessible. The organisers were friendly and welcoming, the other stall holders lovely too. My Mum, with her great eye for detail and never missing a trick skills, had some great vision. Everything looked superb and as I stood there beaming with pride, it suddenly hit me. All these products in front of me, everything I was admiring, I made that! My ideas and inspirations, the research and hard work developing recipes, the purpose and benefits of my ingredients, the methodical research and product development, the labelling, the designing, the creating, the making; it was all suddenly very real! I have achieved so much in the past year – what started off with a broken knee and being stuck in bed, led to all of this. Super proud of what I have achieved and I definitely appreciated that moment to just pause and reflect and smile. The satisfaction and gratitude of that moment will stay with me forever.
Systems are my new best friend, and asking for help really is a great skill to have
So the day turned out to be pretty quiet. We had lots of feedback that no one really knew about the market, it was off the high street, out the way, it needed more advertising but would there be another one at Christmas time?! I was secretly hoping it would be a semi quiet one, just to break me in gently. I met some lovely people, made some brilliant sales, got some lovely feedback, and was told my grip soap is a ‘genius idea’! My moisturisers went down a treat, and I sold my very first Sample Set.
On a business level, I came away with so many ideas for future ventures. On a personal level, I came away with so many positive lessons. I am 100% confident in my products and their abilities, I just need to work on that confidence for myself! I have discovered I CAN be organised, I have realised that it is ALL in the systems, and I have learnt that asking for help IS a good thing. In fact, understanding what we thrive at and what we struggle with, how we can delegate that, and who we can reach out to for help – is in fact a useful tool in itself!
Moving forward, top daily reminder - it is all in the prep!
So, what’s next then?! Well first off I can order more stock - my oils are running low and I need more bottles and jars for the Sample Set online launch! All in all a really good experience. A massive shout out to my Mum who helped me loads with this, my dad too who gave me some brilliant feedback, my kids for bearing with me, my sent from heaven VA Sarah who is just an absolute blessing, and to the lovely people who put on the market and the super creative makers / business owners / stall holders who I met.
(I love you in Maltese)
My Sign Language skills are very rusty! I am practising as much as I can and hope to see lots of improvement. In the meantime, with the overall flow of stepping out the comfort zone, I will give it a go!