We are huge supporters of shopping locally and supporting our own community, as well as British trade. This is why our website enables you to filter by area, so you can find stallholders near you.
This week we found out more about the brilliant FantasyWire, whose large wire sculptures you can find all over one of Staffordshire’s top attractions, Trentham Gardens, but they offer plenty more wire creations too. January Eleven create sustainable silver jewellery in the pretty market town of Stone, and Timber Things offer a family-run laser-cutting business in Stoke-on-Trent.
Pedddle: What do you love most about being based in the Midlands and what nearby markets do you enjoy attending?
FantasyWire: We really love being based in Staffordshire. All of the locals are so friendly and the scenery on our doorstep is beautiful. Although we lived in Leeds for 7 years it’s a pleasure to come home and work with our family at the workshop in Oakamoor.
We are very privileged to be part of FantasyWire, a family business that my father Robin Wight started with his awe-inspiring fairy sculptures that have become famous worldwide. They are on permanent display at Trentham Gardens and people travel to Staffordshire just to come and see them.
We have really enjoyed all the local markets that we have attended, such as Totally Locally’s Leek Sunday Supplement and The Artisan Market at the World of Wedgwood in Barlaston, each with a fantastic community of makers and independents that we have been lucky to be a part of.
January Eleven: I love being based in the Midlands because I’m surrounded by places to escape to the countryside when I need to get out of the studio. Walks are my favourite way to clear my head. It’s also lovely being situated so close to the Emma Bridgewater factory and their lovely mugs (although my bank balance doesn’t appreciate it)! I enjoy visiting my local Farmers Market in Stone and also the Makers Market in Uttoxeter. I usually say ‘hi’ to a few Pedddle members on my way around too!
Timber Things: Timber Things is run by three sister-in-laws. All three of us are from Leek, so we love the Totally Locally markets there. We mainly focus on the local Christmas markets around Leek and Stoke-on-Trent. There are many at the local pottery places which are great at incorporating Staffordshire’s local heritage and the community of Stoke on Trent.
Pedddle: How did you first get into this line of creative work, and what first inspired you?
FantasyWire: My father Robin Wight started making fairy sculptures as a hobby. He has always been a creative person, from drawing to sand sculptures to wood carvings. After we moved to Oakamoor he go into photography, and soon stumbled up on a solar flare on one of his photos, which looked very much like a silhouette of a fairy kneeling on a branch. It just so happened that we were fencing a field around at this time, and Robin was inspired to create a fairy out of wire. This is what inspired the sculptures he creates today, although they have come a long way since then!
After sharing some photos of his work on Facebook, they went viral in 2014. Ever since then the demand for his work has grown, and now our whole family is involved in the company.
January Eleven: I’ve always loved jewellery and had a serious collection when I was growing up, however I got fed up with high-fashion pieces turning my skin red and the jewellery itself wearing out so quickly. However, most of the pieces in long-wearing materials such as Gold or Silver were either a little too fancy for me or seriously out of my price range! I decided to make my own using materials like Sterling Silver and Gold Fill (a base metal with a thick layer of real gold bonded over the top, resulting in a piece that acts and wears the same as Gold but without the price tag!) and different gemstones, turning them into simple, modern, wearable jewellery.
I’m very keen to help turn around the ‘fast fashion’ jewellery concept and move to more sustainable and carefully chosen, timeless pieces, which people can enjoy for a long time.
Timber Things: Two years ago we all decided we’d like to do something more creative than the jobs we were in, so we made the leap into the unknown and started up our own business. We’re from a family of woodworkers so we wanted to be able to in some way utilise and recycle some of their waste products, which is where Timber Things began. Since we started out we have developed the business and grown to have a focus on wedding decor, details and gifts. It’s been an amazing journey so far and we hope to be able to expand and grow our portfolio more in the future!
Pedddle: What first made you consider selling your products at markets?
FantasyWire: We thought it would be a nice idea to support our local markets and get face to face feedback on some of our products. We have now been attending markets for a couple of years and really love them. We really feel that we have become part of a great community of makers and creative minds and really appreciate all we have learnt from other vendors.
January Eleven: Going to markets made me want to be a part of it, I love a good market! I love being able to find things that you wouldn’t find in your regular high street shops. I visited a Christmas Market at the Roundhouse in Derby back in 2017 and I was hooked! The atmosphere, the friendly stallholders – I chatted to a few there who I had been stalking for a while on social media, who encouraged me to take the plunge. It’s such a brilliant opportunity to get the products you are passionate about ‘out there’ and people are able to pick up and feel the pieces you make, which you just can’t do from a picture on a screen.
Timber Things: We wanted to be involved in our local community and we’re proud to design and make bespoke products for local people.
Pedddle: What do you love most about selling at markets?
FantasyWire: Justine and I met at Alton towers many years ago through working on the games there. One of the things we love personally is the sense of nostalgia it brings us to be back behind a counter talking and selling to the public. With that said, our favourite thing by far is to get out and meet and chat to the lovely people who come by our stand. It’s so great to see how much enjoyment FantasyWire brings to people. It gives us such a strong sense of job satisfaction. The Leek and Wedgwood markets are dog friendly, so we get to meet loads of four legged friends too!
January Eleven: I love being able to meet my customers! Making in my studio and selling from behind a screen can make things feel a bit like you are on your own, but getting out and speaking to people who have either bought from me before and have come out to say hello, or new faces who are attending events for the first time is great. It’s brilliant to meet new people and share what I love with them.
The atmosphere is great too – there’s nothing quite like the atmosphere at markets, people are much more open to trying something new when they can see the person who made it and there’s a very personal feel to it. The other stallholders at markets inevitably become friends and support each other too.
Timber Things: Meeting other local creative people and being part of a creative community is what we love – supporting each other and talking to lots of customers face to face is great, as we sell mostly online so it’s good to talk with customers in real life!
Pedddle: Do you have any new products for 2020?
FantasyWire: We have just begun to hire out our Fairy and Dandelions sculptures for weddings and events. This is a very exciting new venture for us, details of which will be available on our website very soon! It’s so rewarding to be able to bring some extra magic to people’s wedding days.
In addition I (Adam) have been learning my father’s craft, and have started to take commissions for fairy sculptures of my own. It’s very exciting and an honour to be learning from my father and following in his footsteps.
January Eleven: For me 2020 is all about circles! I have a set of silver open circle stud earrings and a new interlocking ring necklace in both Gold Fill and Silver (pictured above). These are my favourite pieces at the moment!
Timber Things: We’re in the process of increasing our range of products, and we will also have a focus on more local designs from towns around us, which have proved very popular at markets over this last Christmas period.