Sustainability is a concern for many of us when buying products, and in light of Earth Day we decided to Meet the Maker behind some of our most sustainable and eco-friendly markets stalls. If you’d like to know more about some of our other sustainable stallholders, check out our blog on sustainability and watch out for other blogs coming up too!
Royledge Farm creates products using wool from her very own flock of sheep, which she rears on her farm. String Effects creates beautiful jewellery using used guitar strings, whilst Black Sheep Candles offers sustainable candles using eco-friendly 100% natural soy wax.
Pedddle: What are your plans for 2020 and how have they changed given the pandemic?
Royledge Farm: It’s certainly a difficult time for small businesses and really businesses of any size are finding it challenging. I was planning a re-brand at some point in 2020 and have decided to time this for post virus lockdown (provided I get everything lined up in time), once everything starts up again. I’m changing the name of the business to the name of our farm, Royledge Farm (formerly Royal Edge).
I think in this day and age, the provenance of an item is really important and nothing says that better than putting the name of our farm on the product. This will mean a new website, new business cards and a new logo, but the same products. I’m not planning on launching anything new products-wise, although I’m constantly thinking of new ideas!
String Effects: For 2020, I has aimed to continue with markets every weekend, but I’d already put on hold most of my regular Saturday markets due to transport issues. Once markets start up again, I will be keeping up with Rochdale Artisan Market as it is local to me, and I’ve booked a regular slot at Rawtenstall Market (3rd Saturday of each month), replacing my slot at Chorlton Makers Market. I also want to continue with my vegan events at Burscough Wharf, and have added some new locations too.
I have been approached to bring my jewellery to rock band tribute nights, so may be trying these events along with more music-related events like guitar shows.
In addition I hope to continue taking part in pop-up shops with Curated Makers, which gives me the opportunity to showcase my jewellery in high street locations such as John Lewis, M&S and Paperchase. Watch this space!
Black Sheep Candles: Black Sheep Candles were due to exhibit at Harrogate Home & Gift in July 2020, however this has recently been postponed until July 2021 – so watch this space! We are still waiting on confirmation from another exhibition we are supposed to be doing later in the year at Top Draw London, so listen out as we’ll be announcing more plans soon!
Pedddle: Each of you use sustainable methods to make your products – what are your inspirations and methods?
Royledge Farm: My products are in two worlds…wool and wire. All my wool is produced by my sheep. I don’t buy any in or use anything other than what is produced on the farm. As I handle the sheep myself, I know everything we use and I’m conscious in ensuring that the use of chemicals is a last resort and will always try to use environmentally friendly products instead, such as tea tree oils and garlic as preventative methods to protect the sheep and their fleeces.
String Effects: I initially had the idea as I was struck by the amount of guitar strings being thrown away by guitar technicians and players. Guitarists playing regularly often change their strings after every gig, so they are almost new, but once thrown away they remain in landfill and don’t biodegrade.
Not only do I rescue strings from local guitar technicians, I also educate customers into donating theirs, often to make a personal gift for a friend or loved one.
I combine the guitar strings with crystals, beads and charms which I generally purchase from suppliers, but I also check out charity and antique shops for vintage jewellery which can be broken down and re-used.
I use recycled or recyclable packaging too, including tins (which can be re-purposed), recycled paper bags and I salvage and re-use packaging materials such as tissue paper.
Black Sheep Candles: All of our candles are made using 100% natural soy wax, cotton wicks and natural, eco-friendly fragrances. Our new (Infusion) Essential Oil Range consists of the same wax and wick, however we use aromatherapy oils, such as in the ‘Breathe Easy’ candle pictured below. That one has eucalyptus in, which has amazing health benefits too.
Pedddle: Markets give your customers the opportunity to see your items up close – do you think this is especially beneficial for a business like yours?
Royledge Farm: I LOVE markets and meeting people. It’s a great way to connect and find that often we all have things in common that we only find out through the simple act of chatting. People love to hear about the farm and the business, and I frequently take my work with me so they can see it being made in real life, whether that be spinning fleeces on my wheel or making wire sculptures with my pliers.
The best thing is when you get talking and someone likes something but they would like it a bit longer, shorter, or different in some way and you can say to them, “I can make it for you!” and their faces light up!
Buying from a maker means you can get something bespoke and a one-off. They don’t have to come with a big price tag either as to make a variation to a product that is hand-made and unique means it’s not going to cost me anything to change a big manufacturing process – I just warp the loom differently or bend the wire differently!
String Effects: I do sell some of my products online but customers generally need to try them on before purchasing, mainly to make sure of the fit. My bangles are push-on so you have to squeeze them over your hand. Rings cannot be sized accurately due to the nature of guitar strings, so it is definitely best to try them on first.
In addition, many customers are interested in crystals (which I wrap onto some of my bangles, necklaces, earrings and rings), whether it be a simple birthstone or incorporating the energies around different stones. These customers like to look and handle my jewellery and I am often asked which stones are good for good health, depression, confidence, wealth and so on.
Black Sheep Candles: Markets were my very first source of income when starting out 3 years ago. As a result, our business and clientele has slowly grown because of them. I’ve ventured into exhibitions over the last 12 months and found them to be really beneficial for where I’m trying to take my business, plus it’s more cost effective to switch to wholesale and sell in bulk.
Pedddle: What three things do you love most about your business?
Royledge Farm: Creativity, the personal aspect, and being in control!
I love the fact that I can turn ‘nothing special’ into ‘something beautiful’, despite much of it being self-taught and borne from a fundamental desire to get a better balance and pace in life. It’s my little business, that has a piece of my heart and soul in everything I make, and I love the fact I’m in control of the next thing I do – if a customer would like something making and I can do it, then I can say yes. I can start a new product line when I want. I can create new things and be creative.
Being the master of your own destiny is a fantastic (although sometimes terrifying) feeling!
String Effects: I love being able to create something pretty out of what would normally end up in the dustbin, and particularly enjoy coming up with new designs and combinations.
I always enjoy making a special gift using strings given to me by a customer. Among other things I have made earrings for bridesmaids, a necklace and bangle for a 1st wedding anniversary present, and bangles made with strings from a local band as a wedding present.
Last but not least, I like the flexibility of being able to manage my time around my business, so I can do other things as well.
Black Sheep Candles: I love to escape to my workshop and immerse myself in making candles! It’s an amazing feeling knowing that it’s something I’ve created and am good at. I love everything about the process, from planning the candles to creating them, to packaging a finished product.
Pedddle: How long have you been selling at markets, and what do you love most about selling at markets?
Royledge Farm: I did my first market in December 2018, so I have only been doing this for just over 12 months. I love the fact you never know what you are going to get when you sell at a market. Sometimes you expect to sell lots of one thing and sell none, and it changes on its head the next time. You can’t predict it as it’s dependent on so many factors that are outside of your control, from who comes to the market in the first place! I love meeting other market stallholders and have made some good friends on the way, and hope to continue making more in the future.
String Effects: I have been selling at markets for about 5 years now, starting with a single monthly artisan market in Castlefield, Manchester. I can be found most weekends at markets around the North West.
People sometimes ask me if I wouldn’t prefer to sell online and in shops rather than standing behind my stall at markets. Even though most of my markets are outside and often in bad weather, I would miss the face-to-face interaction with customers and the camaraderie with other traders if I was solely occupied indoors. In fact, I would go so far as to say my motivation for making is helping people to choose an item and seeing them go off with a unique gift or just something for themselves.
Black Sheep Candles: I started doing markets around 3 years ago. I enjoy seeing new and old customers alike, and witnessing their reactions to our fragrances and designs. I enjoy interacting with other traders too, and also admiring their crafts and products. You start to become a family and look forward to seeing everyone again. I also love to buy handmade products from the markets too!