With so many of us spending all our time at home in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s a great time to Meet the Maker and learn more about some of Pedddle’s stallholders that sell amazing homeware; Vintage Whatnots, Salty Seas & Mockup Goods Co.
Vintage Whatnots sells delightful vintage goods, Salty Seas offers a wide range of gorgeous handmade homeware, and Mockup Goods Co. create risograph prints, laser etchings and ornaments with a modern twist.
Our recent Q&A delved further into their products to see what inspires them, and why local markets bring so much joy to everyone:
Pedddle: What do you love most about creating products for the home?
Vintage Whatnots: I love selling things that are used around people’s homes because it’s so personal. Our customers choose items that will remain on display for years to come, breathing new life into an old object. The look on someone’s face as they spot an item they’ve been searching for, or often that they never even knew they wanted / needed is just priceless.
Salty Seas: Primarily it’s how many products you can design. The scope and range that you can develop with homeware is vast, which hopefully gives you plenty of chances to be as creative as you want. Because I’m always interested in using different craft and design techniques I have learnt over the years, it enables me to keep developing new products that suit different customers and budgets. For example, if someone doesn’t want any more pictures on their walls, I try to make sure there are other items I can entice them with!
Mockup Goods Co: I like designing products for the home because I like thinking about how my products will be displayed, whether it’s smaller prints that may form part of a gallery wall with a bunch of other prints or whether its a larger etching or hanging that may be the centrepiece of a room.
Pedddle: What is the most satisfying element of producing your art?
Vintage Whatnots: The thing that satisfies me most about running Vintage Whatnots is the fact we extend the life of so many objects that may have been thrown out or lost – we give them new homes, often with new purposes, and in turn this helps the planet we all share.
Salty Seas: I have always enjoyed making things, I like the physicality of it. There is something quite calming and reflective about taking a raw material and manipulating it into something unexpected and new. It’s also combining my design and branding background with arts and crafts, that hopefully helps me to create unique styles and designs. Above all of that is my love of the seaside, it’s genuinely my happy place. I try to take the sounds and smells of the coast and infuse them into what Salty Seas is all about; a fond nostalgic appreciation for the Great British seaside.
Mockup Goods Co: Seeing the final product is always my favourite part of producing my prints and products. Risograph printing throws up a lot of variables depending on the colours and paper you’ve chosen to use. Similarly with my laser cut products, every piece of wood is different and sometimes a cool bit of grain or a knot in the wood can become part of the etching.
Pedddle: What first got you into this line of creative work, and where did you learn your craft?
Vintage Whatnots: I am a collector of many vintage things myself, and was always looking for something unique for my home. Vintage Whatnots was borne out of this love.
Salty Seas: It started when I left school. My first job was as an engineering draughtsman working on a drawing board designing machine tools based in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. Then I worked at a gunsmiths, designing and making some of the various components, followed by working as a typesetter for a publishing company. That ‘hands on’ approach is something which I have always enjoyed.
Crafts has always been a passion for me and love learning new skills and techniques. I have self taught myself as many skills as I can, from needlecraft to woodworking and ceramics to painting, jewellery making and papercrafts. There are still a few skills I want to learn, which stops me from getting bored and I love feeling inspired.
Mockup Goods Co: I got into this line of work through an interest in printmaking, so small print fairs and markets were always a natural part of it from the start, long before I started my own business. I think people are definitely more likely to buy your products at markets because people like asking you about how it’s made and also seeing the product in the flesh is always better than seeing it on a screen because they can see colours and details better.
Pedddle: You’re all quite seasoned stallholders. How long have you been attending markets now?
Vintage Whatnots: We’ve been selling at markets for 7 years now, starting out at small table top vintage fairs before moving onto antiques fairs, and now needing our own gazebo for the markets as we continue to outgrow the space!
Salty Seas: Over the years I have always done the odd craft fair and market with different ideas I’ve had, but since Salty Seas started about 5 years ago, and because it’s now my own business, I attend events nearly every weekend throughout the year.
Mockup Goods Co: I’ve been doing markets for around 6 years now.
Pedddle: Local markets are always happy places, and it’s great to support local independent businesses. What first made you consider selling your products at markets?
Vintage Whatnots: To begin with markets were a hobby really, but we soon realised people liked the things we were putting out, and started doing more and more events. We have found that, for a lot of items, people are definitely more likely to buy face to face. They like to be able to handle an item and chat about its history. I think they can trust what it is more when they talk to you, and oftentimes customers didn’t even know they wanted something until they see it. There are exceptions; some collectible items sell better online. These are often niche things and you need a wider, yet active, audience to sell them.
Salty Seas: When I started, I did consider opening a shop somewhere by the coast. But the cost implications would have been too risky, so because I had already done markets before, it was a relatively low-cost alternative to still sell my work directly to the customer.
Luckily, there has been a boom in the number of events in the last few years, and I saw it as an opportunity to create a pop up shop around the UK every weekend. It not only puts me in front of different customers all the time but there is nothing better than seeing that smile on someone’s face when they love what you do.
I do think people have become more aware of the handmade revolution the last few years, and a photograph can never replace the real thing. Customers like the touch and feel of something, to get a true idea of what they are buying. But I also think it’s the individual artist or designer that is key to a successful creative business. A brand isn’t just a logo or how your display looks, people buy into people. They like to know where your inspiration comes from and how that transpires into what you are selling.
Pedddle: What two things do you love most about selling at markets?
Vintage Whatnots: Market days are all about the camaraderie between stallholders. There is usually a wonderful spirit across the markets, even when the weather is terrible and footfall is low. Stallholders will always be there for each other, and it’s great to be part of that. Chatting to customers is the other thing that you just don’t get away from markets. You meet people from all walks of life, whether they’re asking questions about an item or recanting a story that a vintage piece has evoked in their memory. It’s just lovely to be able to bring happiness to people through the items we sell.
Salty Seas: Regardless of how successful we are on the day, we all have good and bad days, for me it’s all about my fellow creatives. I have made some great friends the last few years and luckily we meet up regularly throughout the year at various events. It helps to have people who understand the hard work that we all put in, along with the ups and downs of running your own small business. Also I like discovering new creations and get excited seeing something I haven’t seen before. There is nothing better than sharing our passions for handmade crafts, and if you see me at a market, don’t be shy – I love a chat!
Mockup Goods Co: I like meeting the people who buy my products because it’s nice to meet people who are into the same things you are. If someone’s liked a print of mine enough to buy it, they must be interested in Risograph prints, or the subject of the illustration or the illustration style.
I also really enjoy selling at markets because I like using them as a kind of MOT or checkup for my business. You can feel a lot like you’re in your own bubble when making and selling your own products. Getting out there at events and speaking to your peers, seeing their stalls and work is great, I always leave feeling energised to go and make some new prints or to make some improvements to my own stall.