Lockdown has prevented us seeing family and friends for a long time, so posting a gift to show we care has become popular. The Hawthorn Co. produce beautiful silk wraps to present gifts, Cactus Parlour offer a variety of house plants in quirky pots, and Yellow Room Designs create a wide range of coasters to brighten up your home.
Our recent Random Acts of Kindness Market enabled people to buy a gift from one of our lovely stallholders, who would post it gift-wrapped directly to the recipient along with a little caring note – and it was a huge success.
We spoke to The Hawthorn Co., Cactus Parlour & Yellow Room Designs this week to find out more about how things have changed for them in the pandemic, what they miss about markets and why giving gifts is a great way to show some love to your family and friends.
Pedddle: What’s next for your business – do you have any new products coming up?
The Hawthorn Co: I’ve been focussing on sourcing new prints for my re-useable gift wrap and showing that it is a multi-use product. I try to find unique prints which transition each season, and only use natural fibres. I am also developing a small range of everyday lifestyle products (think headbands, produce and storage bags), which will be made with organic cotton but still using surplus fabric and trims from my other products, so as to reduce fabric waste. These will hopefully be ready later in the year!
It is already getting to the time of year where I need to start thinking about colours and prints for 2020’s luxury velvet Christmas stockings, some of my favourite products to make. Cotton velvet and Liberty print – two of my favourite things!
Cactus Parlour: Houseplants are so individual and personal. Being able to get up close and choose that special one is so important! We wanted to offer a range of unique plants and pots that just aren’t available on the high street. It’s a well known fact that plants make people happy. They bring the outdoors in, lift your mood and some even purify the air you breathe! If they are sustainably and organically planted and in gorgeous pots, all the better!
We are launching another new and very exciting product for Pedddle’s Home and Family online market this weekend – watch this space!
Yellow Room Designs: There will be new designs coming to my collection later this year, ready to launch in November for my John Lewis pop up shop in York. They were supposed to be launched this Summer, but due to Covid-19 they’ve sadly had to be delayed. However, designing is underway now – once the children are in bed anyway!
Pedddle: What first made you consider selling your products at markets?
The Hawthorn Co: I still consider myself pretty new to the market side of things, but I think it is a great way to meet your customers and get to see the amazing talents of other makers. Markets are hard work and don’t always go how you would hope – sometimes you sell everything, sometimes you sell nothing – but if you don’t try them, you don’t know which markets are right for you. It’s a great chance to test products and see what sells, and everyone there is always so supportive, it’s a real community.
Cactus Parlour: I’ve always loved houseplants and I’ve always loved markets, so it seemed like a no-brainier! I Iove the leisurely pace of the markets, the sociability of them, and the fresh air. I love that you can take your dogs, get something to eat and browse unique and handmade products too.
Yellow Room Designs: My products proved very popular with family and friends so I thought I would see if the general public liked my products too. My very first fair was a stall at The Horsforth Walk of Art, back in 2017. It was a real success and I loved the feedback and interaction from customers directly, so I went on to gradually increase my market appearances.
I have done many markets now, from small church hall fairs right up to The British Craft Trade Fair and everything in between. I still learn something new at every single market I do and I absolutely love the interaction and personal approach, and the incredible atmosphere a market can offer.
Pedddle: Do you have a favourite market, and if so, why?
The Hawthorn Co: Not at the moment, but I always love a market with a varied selection of products; if I can get gifts, food and homeware I am happy! Pedddle’s Online Markets are such a great idea at the moment, and have really brought the community together.
Cactus Parlour: The Cactus Parlour started trading at local markets in Summer 2019 so we don’t have a favourite just yet!
Yellow Room Designs: My favourites are the ones with lots of hustle and bustle and amazing street food to try! My most favourite market to date has to be the Leeds Winter Market, as it was full of all the things that I love. It had hustle and bustle, a huge variety of things including many food stalls, which created a brilliant atmosphere.
I also love the regular Farsley Farmers Market, which is much smaller but always has such a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. It’s very well run and organised and I especially love the fact they really look after their stallholders and the vicar brings you tea!
Pedddle: As markets ground to a halt, many market organisers (and Pedddle too) began offering online markets as an alternative, so you can buy from local and independent traders, and send gifts to your loved ones. Why do you think giving gifts is so important right now?
The Hawthorn Co: Everyone is experiencing this time in different ways, for many different reasons. While I think it is important that we are aware of the impact Covid-19 is having on the world and the repercussions of it, I think it is so important to stay hopeful and do what we can, when we can. Giving someone a gift at any time is lovely, but now, it means a little bit more and comes with the message that someone, somewhere is thinking of you.
Cactus Parlour: Gift giving is more important than ever right now. It’s a way of being present in someone else’s life when you can’t be there in person. The more personal the gift, the more meaning and sentiment it offers.
Yellow Room Designs: Giving a gift right now to someone is like giving a hug. A gift that someone has specially chosen for you is so lovely to receive and you will always remember why that item is in your house and who it was from.
It has even more meaning right now when we are not able to hug our nearest and dearest family and friends, especially if it’s a special occasion and they are feeling a little forgotten in the current circumstances. You will always remember that the gift was received during Lockdown 2020 in years to come, and it helped to brighten up your day.
Pedddle: What has changed for you and your business during the pandemic?
The Hawthorn Co: The majority of the products I make right now are gift wraps! I’m still in the early stages of my business and am working as a teacher alongside this, so not a great deal has changed for me. I’m able to take things a little slower and think about what will work for my customers while still holding true to my values and vision for The Hawthorn Co. brand. I think that is quite a privilege to have, as I know it really isn’t like that for many of my fellow small business owners – a fact that really is not lost on me.
One thing we are all having to look at is how we can diversify what we do and respond to peoples’ needs at the moment. We don’t know what the future looks like, but I think the special thing about small business owners is that we really do love what we do so we want to make it work!
Cactus Parlour: The current situation means all the great things about markets are on hold for now. Like many other traders, we’ve turned to online platforms so that we can still keep in touch with our lovely customers.
In order to maintain the personal aspect of our products, we are now offering a range of ‘plant your own’ kits, which customers can personalise and receive safely in the post. We first launched kits for Pedddle’s Random Acts of Kindness online market. The messages we were asked to send to recipients were so heartwarming, it was very obvious that what people are missing most at the moment is other people!
Yellow Room Designs: So many things changed for me. At the start I had three big events cancelled within a few weeks of each other. It’s taken me a while to learn our new routine, as I’ve had to adjust my working hours around the children and homeschooling. All of my items come gift wrapped and boxed, so they make a special gift to you or someone you know. I can also post directly to a recipient with a personal handwritten message if required.
The Home & Family Market is taking place this Sunday, featuring Yellow Room Designs, Cactus Parlour and more of our fabulous stallholders – perfect to treat yourself or give a gift. See you there!