Nini Mulyani of Things Unseen
“Most entrepreneurs understand that first comes a dream, then a struggle, and finally we gain achievement.”
Nini: I am a self taught vintage-inspired jewellery artisan based in Wellington. You’ll find pieces that you will not find anywhere else. I selected all the materials myself locally and throughout the world. They not only beautiful, but many of the older components would surely have interesting tales to tell if only they could speak!
After some research, I decided to sell at craft fairs. There’s something about the feeling of having someone admire your product, pick it up or try it on, and then pay you for it in front of your eyes that selling exclusively online just can’t match. Call it connecting with your customers or getting a crash course in retail, but giving craft fairs a shot can be a rewarding experience when you prepare for them in advance and set your expectations wisely.
Nini: As a market goer, my biggest challenge is not having a vehicle. I have to be creative with my displays. They need to be effective, attractive, compact, and reasonably light, so that I can take public transport or not take up too much space if another kind stall holder offers me a ride.
Cat: I think it’s too cool how you rock at carrying your stall on your back, so to speak. Did you have lots of trial and error, or did it just sort of happen organically?
Nini: I often find old wooden boxes, foldable displays, ornate frames, feathers, and a vintage suitcase as my display these days. I stick with two or three dominant shades. I try to avoid plastic but somehow, I still have a soft spot for an ‘ugly beautiful’ plastic object. I like layers, order, and a balanced arrangement to exhibit my delicate jewellery.
I emphasise 5 major principles:
• Dress (your stall) for success
• Keep it Fresh
As someone who’s so good at keeping your displays portable without losing that je-ne-sais-quoi that defines your displays as yours, I feel that one thing in particular that you will have some advice about is ‘Flavour’.
The idea is to use the ‘Flavour’ principle in order to give your stall a real point of difference.
Do you have any advice or comments on choosing the right ‘Flavour’?
Nini: For my displays, I play and experiment with objects I find at the op-shops. Pre-loved stuff is perfect and suits my jewellery. I rescue and show them off for their nature of perfectly imperfect material that has travelled through time. They are common objects that you see around, familiar, and yet you can’t just buy them from any shop. It is somehow a Things Unseen kind of thing.
Nini: It takes time, effort, and money to succeed in selling at craft fairs, so be sure to cut yourself some slack if things don’t turn out exactly as planned. Remember to keep your head high, learn your lessons, and keep experimenting until you find what works for you and stick with it.
Cat: What about if someone who’s been selling at markets for a while, and their sales are dropping or have hit a plateau, any thoughts?
Nini: ‘Stickability’ is the power of perseverance. Most entrepreneurs understand that first comes a dream, then a struggle, and finally we gain achievement. When we are willing to do today what others won’t do, we will have what others won’t have in the future.
Cat: Nini, thank you for your wise words, and for sharing your beautiful creations with us. See you and Things Unseen at the markets!