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Or “The tale of the Petone Indoor Markets”

Let me tell you a story. Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I’ll begin!

The 2017 Poster Kitties

​Planting the seed

An idea germinates; organisational therapy; a search for a venue; defining the market; what a response!
In early 2017, it came to my attention that there really weren’t any craft events in Lower Hutt, particularly in winter. It was, of course, essential for them to be indoors, and so the search for a suitable venue began. I made a call-out for interested stallholders, to gauge interest (which would influence the size of the venue), and began hunting.

Initially, I had intended the event to be something small, where I would offer coaching to my Copper Catkin Consulting students, and they would be able to have a go in a low-pressure market environment – but the idea blew up! The levels of interest were definitely high enough to justify the event, so I began to plan.


The 2018 poster kitties

​I was experiencing health issues which made me unable to work, and decided (with the help of my therapists) that trying to organise a market for low fees (rather than for profit) would be good therapy for me. As it turned out, my poor husband ended up doing a lot of the heavy lifting, but the outcome was still rather a good little market, so there was definitely an element of job satisfaction there!

I hunted around for suitable venues, hoping to find a warehouse owner willing to give me a short-term lease, but there was nothing suitable – no one even returned my calls most of the time. The council had nothing suitable on their books.

Eventually, it came down to church halls, school halls, wedding and sports venues, and pubs and clubs. I approached all the larger pubs and club houses, and they said no. I approached local wedding venues and sports clubs, but they were either unsuitable or too expensive – and none of them were close enough to Jackson Street!

After months of searching, I settled on the Petone Baptist Church hall, which also set the location – Petone.

With the help of Cat from Byte Design, I developed the name (Petone Winter Markets) and logo, and in May 2017, began to advertise for stallholders in earnest.  As hoped, the interest was phenomenal, and before I knew it, I had a waiting list of over 80 stalls for my first event! The Petone Winter Markets 2017 were off with a bang!

Companion planting

A new partnership; the rule of three; feeding the troops
Another idea had been incubating in my mind since the previous year, where I had helped by organising a market event as part of the very successful fundraiser which I ran for the Wellington Rabbit Rescue – we raised over $2,000 to cover the printing costs for a range of merchandise that allowed WRR to keep every dollar of the profits from then onward.

I decided that I wanted to have a charity on board again, and decided to choose the Outpawed Rescue Trust this time around. It proved to be an excellent decision.

“The rule of three” is an essential part of my aesthetic, and I stayed true to it when I set the trial number of markets for 2017: July, August, and September. I designed the poster artwork from a photo that Outpawed shared on their Facebook page, and from what I hear, that artwork was a big part of the initial interest.
I brought in Betsy and the team from Ripe to make our coffee, and Outpawed ran a charity bake sale from the kitchen, providing essential nourishment for our stallholders and customers alike. I was thrilled to hear that Outpawed made good sales – I had found a way to help pay their vet bills, as I had hoped!


Betsy and Ripe keeping the queue caffeinated outside the Petone Winter Markets

​From this mighty acorn a tiny oak

Wrought means made; a parent for the markets; we trial a new venue; Outpawed to the rescue!
After the successful first set of markets in Petone, the pressure to find a larger venue to accommodate more sellers increased, and I searched further afield – but of course, these venues were not in Petone, so a new name would be required. I played with the idea of “craft” – my important criterion is that the person behind the stall was the instigator of the creations for sale, but did they have to have made every bit of it themselves? Was I going to exclude myself, as a fabric designer, because my digital art was printed professionally onto the cotton I was selling? How could I keep that maker-made ethos but not exclude makers who used machines, or other tools to create their work? I also wanted to include more customers in scope. The traditional “craft market” atmosphere is dominated by “women of a certain age”, and the products reflect that – jewellery, yarn art, soaps, candles, and frilly things. And of course, lots of things for kids, because many of the customers are mothers and grandmothers. I wanted to keep this creative vibe going, but push it out into the sphere of the “hard” crafts – wrought iron, woodwork, sculpture, glass art, ceramics, 3D printing, acrylics, laser-cutting, and all the new technologies. These are still creative pursuits, they just aren’t commonly found at the markets – and this was the niche I wanted to fill. “Wrought Makers’ Market” was born.

​At first, I planned to replace the Petone Winter Markets brand with Wrought. After some thought, I decided to have a series of regional events under the Wrought umbrella, once it became more established, so Petone Winter Markets got a stay of execution. 

Repeating the pattern of three events in each location, we booked for three markets at the Knox Church hall, in October, November, and December of 2017. At the last minute, I had to replace the professional caterer who was going to run the café, but had to leave for personal reasons – and this is where Outpawed really shone. They came galloping in and filled the gap, and even though these markets were less busy than the Petone Winter Markets by far (great venue, terrible location for walk-ins), they were still able to feed my stallholders and customers, and make a decent profit to help the kitties.


The Outpawed team at Wrought

​A difficult season

In which we almost give up; the Dowse saves the day; renovations are psychic vampires.
The day after our last market at the Know venue, I began looking for the next option.

​At around this time, my health problems increased, and I was worried that I might not be able to do the Petone Winter Markets the next year, especially in the smaller venue. We spent some considerable time in negotiations with a possible alternative venue for both markets, but a combination of difficult terms and less-than-ideal access left us with no choice but to cancel the Petone Winter Markets plans for 2018. 

We were lucky enough to secure the Dowse for the planned date for Wrought April, so we booked our usual three dates there – April, July, and October – and started some home renovations, which, combined, took up all of my time and energy.

The Waste-Ed workshop at Wrought July

​Change is in the air

PIM, take two; another idea germinates.
​At Wrought July, the Outpawed team mentioned that they were really relying on the income from the Petone markets, so I put the idea back on the table. We were able to secure dates in August, October, and November, with a gap in September for our long-planned overseas holiday.

At the August market, we discovered that, with their help to manage the arduous set-up and pack-down of the venue, the task went from 2.5 hours before and after each market to less than an hour – the power of a team of volunteers should never be underestimated! 

This started another idea-seed in my head, but we needed to get back from the holiday before I could be certain. 


Roll D20 for decisions

The big move

Portland adventures; a big decision; the end of an era.
Our September trip was to scout out the city of Portland, Oregon.
We had hoped that it could be something like a giant Newtown, crossed with a giant Cuba Street, with a bit of Jackson Street, too, and it didn’t let us down – Portland ticked every box for us. My American husband and I had been considering a move there for quite a while already, and the visit sealed the deal – we are moving to Portland in 2019!

​But… what to do with the markets? 

Wrought Makers’ Market is a brand designed to be portable, so it will be staying with us, and maybe one day, you will hear about Wrought Oregon – but of course, the Petone Markets had to stay where they were.

​We were already considering a change of name to allow for the October and November dates (not exactly winter!), and we had planned 9 more events the next year, so we changed to the “Petone Indoor Markets”.

​With the move to Oregon confirmed, and the market dates for 2019 already booked in, the next decision was – what to do with the Petone Indoor Markets once we left NZ? 

​Changing of the guard

The gift that takes; splitting personalities; a call for help.
​We knew that Outpawed relied on the income, and we knew that Outpawed were reliable helpers – but would they want the additional responsibility and thankless task of running a market?

​I spend over 150 hours a market on social media, admin, invoicing, managing the website, and fielding enquiries, and at all hours – creative people think nothing of messaging a page at 2am, and in order to avoid impacts to your page response time, you have to be ready to reply.

​Would they be able to manage? Would all my hard work peter out into nothing? Would they be able to maintain the level of engagement that sees over a thousand people interested in my events through organic reach alone, before I even pay to promote them? 

The answer from Outpawed was a resounding “yes”! 

​I have begun the process of donating the Petone Indoor Markets brand to Outpawed by announcing our departure and the projected change of ownership to my stallholders. 

There are currently 4 brands within my Copper Catkin business: Copper Catkin, Copper Catkin Consulting, Wrought Makers’ Markets, and Petone Indoor Markets. In order to donate PIM to Outpawed, the next step is to separate them out from the rest of my business. And for that, we need help.

“Pro Bono Felibus”

For the kitties; an appeal to accountants, valuers, and lawyers.
​In order to pay for the accounting, valuation, legal transfer of ownership, and any other expenses, I will have to use the funds from the business, as I am still not able to work, which puts me in a quandary. Petone Indoor Markets was never designed for profit – it was always intended primarily to fill a gap, and as a way to promote creativity in the Wellington region. My fees are as low as I can reasonably make them and still cover venue hire and advertising costs (apart from my own labour) – which means that I have very little available to cover the costs for the valuation and legal requirements to make my donation – so I am putting the call out for help. 

Please, help me transfer the ownership of the Petone Indoor Markets to Outpawed as a donation to them – it would be so greatly appreciated. 
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With Copper Catkin, we attend a great many markets and fairs throughout the year, and we  consistently sell several hundred dollars of stock at every market, even the very quiet ones. If there are people at the market, we give them every opportunity to take home some Copper Catkin goodness, and many of them take us up on the offer.

Ready to trade at the Wrought Makers’ Market earlier in 2018

We look around us and see that many other makers are struggling to do the same, so here are a few quick tips. 

Am I doing something wrong?

Is it me? Is it my display? Is it my products? Is it my prices? Is it this market? 
It could be any of these, all of these, or none of these.
Let’s work through and see what could be happening.

The times, they are a-changing

Well, first of all, times have changed. Back in the halcyon days of Wellington markets, there wasn’t much competition – there weren’t as many markets, there weren’t as many quality makers, and there were a lot of people who loved supporting local crafters.

Wellington is suffering from market fatigue – we have lots more regular markets, and they take the shine off the excitement of the event.

Market organisers are also letting quality makers down by allowing imports and low-quality stalls to undercut their handmade prices, and customers are no longer educated about the cost of handmade. Add that to the proliferation of small events splitting the skilled maker-base across too many locations, and adding opportunity for the lower-quality products to find spaces, and the experience as a whole becomes very diluted and same-same.

Add that to the fact that we simply don’t have enough people in New Zealand, let alone Wellington, to support the number of events, and you can see why sales are slipping.
If only we could support events the size of the Oregon State Fair, for example!

Everyone is “making to sell”

There is a huge fashion at the moment for people, especially stay-at-home parents, to “make a little something” to help with household costs and alleviate the tedium of being stuck at home with the kids – “I have so much time now that I’m not working (of course this is tongue-in-cheek)”… And there are so many kits out there that people think it’s much easier to make things with skill than it really is. Who hasn’t heard “oh I could make that!” at a market?

This fashion for making low-quality goods and selling them cheaply because “it’s just a hobby” hurts those who make quality goods, because everyday customers can’t tell if you used $2 essential oils or made your own from the plants and flowers you grow – and they don’t care. They just look at the prices and go for the cheapest. 

MLMs are also major culprits – when a maker is competing against a reseller, who not only has to make very little effort to create their products, but who also receives training in professional stall display and sales, the winner is generally the MLM seller. Customers also gravitate towards recognised brands, so if “Lucy’s handmade lotions” is competing against Nutrimetics, for example, most customers will choose Nutrimetics. 

Wallflower sales techniques

Do you sit behind your stall mournfully, and hope that someone will notice and like your creations?
Are you embarrassed to tell people about what you have made?
Do you take along something to make so that you have an excuse to avoid eye-contact with customers?

This simply does not work. If you believe in your work enough to try and sell it, then SELL it. Engage, with customers, give them an excuse to spend money with you! Sitting and hoping will only work with a very few customers – most of us need help massaging the money out of our hands and into your pocket. Help us buy the thing we like by asking for the sale! We will actually be grateful, most of the time, because we want it but, in this economic climate, we need to justify it. Make the justification for us, and we will do the rest.


Repping the brand


What’s your number one product?

If you said anything other than “me”, you are wrong. Why would I buy from you, when I can get it from Jenny next door, or online, or… BECAUSE I AM BUYING THE EXPERIENCE. Art is a package, and you have crafted something that will uplift me – because I am supporting a local maker, because I am buying something handmade, because what I buy is a part of a person who is telling me all about how it was created. When I look at that bowl, or I use that bath bomb, or I wrap that painting as a gift, I am thinking about you, the maker, and I am enjoying the extra buzz of connecting with the creator of this beautiful, practical, helpful, magical thing.

So don’t slouch grumpily behind your stall if it’s a low day, work harder! Project your joy that someone might want to buy something you have made! DO NOT COUNT YOUR TAKINGS, count the compliments and positive reactions. While you are at the market, you are NOT here to make money, you are here to spread joy. Change your mindset, push the energy to max, turn up that smile to 11. Really make people feel like they are the reason you are here – you want to share this thing with them, specifically, because they are important to you, and you are so happy that they are there. 

This is called the “opening night” principle. For every theatrical show, the opening night is the most important – everyone puts all their energy into it. The second night is always flat, as a result. Every single customer should experience opening night with you – so by the time the market it over, you should be exhausted. That means you did it!


We use photos to help tweak the details – the missing safety pin, the bunched-up tablecloth…

First impressions MATTER

We have talked about having a positive attitude already – body language is a major way to communicate with your potential customers. Be sure that you are always open and positive.

Even more important than that – have an amazing stall display. Your display should have elements to bait your customer over to check out your products, and hooks to keep them there. 

People shouldn’t have to interact with you in order to understand the basics of what you are selling, so make sure that they can easily identify:

  • Who – what is your brand name? Who makes it?
  • What – what are you selling? 
  • Why – why should they buy from you? Tell them your story!

“But I have to update social media!”

If a customer catches you on your phone, be human about it! 
Just tell them that you have to keep up with your social media – BUT THAT CAN WAIT, because they are more important. Gauge your customer’s reaction – if they look like they want time to browse, simply say that you will go ahead and finish your post, so that you’re not hovering. let them know that they can ask questions any time, and make sure that, if they do, you put your phone down immediately and focus entirely on them!

Is it my prices?

It definitely could be.

  • Have you followed the rule of price-setting, to make sure that materials, labour, skill, and profit are included in your price?
  • Have you checked your pricing against other similar products on the market?
  • Have you done your market research to ensure that there is a need for your products, and that it is not already adequately met?

If yes, and your pricing sits at a reasonable level in relation to other makers (ignore commercial pricing, and imports), then it’s probably not your prices. 

“This market sucks”

​You need at least 3 data points to plot a trend, so you need to attend at least three of those events before you can draw a conclusion.
If you have poor sales three markets in a row, ask yourself these questions:

  • Did the organisers advertise appropriately for my fee level? 

A quick way to estimate that is to count the number of stalls, multiply it by the stall fee, and see what around a quarter of the fees is worth. A cheap poster campaign costs around $2,000 in Wellington, and an entry-level radio campaign is around $5,000. The venue hire can vary wildly from under $100 to thousands. Is it a fancy venue? Expect that a lot of your fees have gone towards hire. Was there much left for advertising, and if not, what did they do to work around that? Social media is one of the best ways to advertise these days, and costs the least.  

  • Did I participate fully in promoting the event myself?

Did you share posters, flyers, social media posts? Did you add the event to your Facebook page and invite your friends? Did you engage with their posts and encourage others to do so? 


Words of wisdom from Fi at

  • Was I present and engaged throughout the day?

Were you on your “A” game, full of energy (and, ideally, standing up)? Did your stall look amazing, were your greetings “opening night” quality for every single person? Did you ask for every sale? Did your customers look happy to meet you? 

  • Did I have the right kind of products and the right kind of prices for the event?

Did you do your research well and place yourself at the right kind of market? Look at the stallholder lists, visit events before booking, and check whether your products are too similar, or too different. If your prices and/or quality were too high, then this might not be the right type of market or demographic for your stall. If your prices were too low, why? Have you underpriced yourself, or were you outclassed? If your products are not commonly sold at markets, allow at least 6 events for customers to get used to you. If they are fairly common, you should start seeing progress after around 3 events.

  • Did I display my products appropriately?

Was your stall display at the same level as the other stalls? Were you too polished, or too basic? How can you adapt to fit in better (you can always find ways to improve ). Did I have the right kind of signage and product labelling?

​If you have attended at least 3 events, and all of the above were done well, then think about the location, the skill of the organisers, and whether the audience was appropriate for you. 

  • If lots of people come through, but they never stop for anyone, or no one comes through. then the location is unsuitable. This also applies if all the customers make excuses about not being able to afford things (and you hear this from other sellers).
  • If the organisers have a good reputation and you can see that they make every effort to make your day go well, think about the time or year, other clashes, and whether you were really doing your best that day.
  • If there were plenty of people through, and they were buying from others but not from you, think about all the things above, plus demographics. If you sell edgy products and the area is very conservative, for example, you might not be the best fit for that market.

If all of the above are good, then there is one other thing to consider – it’s because, as we said above, times, they are a-changing. 
People simply aren’t spending the way they used to, and it’s the luck of the draw whether or not you are the lucky person who snags their cash today. In that case, just keep trying – use the markets as free research – ask people what they like, give out surveys, talk to your customer base, and keep improving. If you really want to succeed, you will, but it’s hard, hard work.

It comes down to:

  • Product
  • Pricing
  • Brand
  • Sales Skills
  • Display Skills
  • Finding your audience
  • Hard work

But… I don’t know how to do these things…

That’s ok, Copper Catkin Consulting can help – keep reading!

Finding the right product lines can be challenging – experiment, but be wary of having too many product lines. It looks messy, confuses the customer, and makes it hard to deliver a clear message to potential buyers. “I make a whole lot of jumbled chaos” is never a good message, and regardless of the quality of those items, they will end up looking like a junk stall if you don’t edit. Find and refine your products and deliver a clear and punchy brand message, and you will do well.

If you won’t price your products so that you are not undercutting other makers (“it’s only a hobby” is a terrible excuse, don’t do it), stop selling. Seriously, it’s not ok to price that low – and it makes everything at the market suspect, because why is your stuff so cheap?
Likewise, if you have to price yourself out of the market to pay yourself appropriately for the work, you need to find a different product, or change your approach to making it.

​Once you have your product and pricing down, you need to work on your brand – which is YOU.

This is where Copper Catkin Consulting comes in. 

Brand, display, and sales are firmly inter-connected, and you will not be successful as a seller unless you find a good combination of the three.

Start with our free mini market makeover email series:

​We offer a variety of services to help develop and crystallise your brand, so that you know who you are and what you are selling. Your brand is a part of you, and so is its personality. Make sure that your logo, colour choices, branding, display, and products reflect that.

Upcoming classes are in the events tab of our Facebook page – message us to book!

Get in touch so we can tailor a package that suits you!

    Enquire about Copper Catkin Consulting services