I’m now 32 years old, have two children, a husband and a home made business run from my kitchen table. At 28 I left a career in museums to be a stay at home mum, moving to my husbands home town of Northallerton at 38 weeks pregnant.
Whilst being a stay at home mum was very much my choice (I felt blessed and privileged to be in a relationship where that choice was accepted and encouraged) I also felt, at times, lonely and under stimulated yet stressed. I day dreamed that setting up a small craft business at home would be a great way to give my days another direction, whilst still being home with my son.
I began researching craft fairs and making prototype products. Aside from the impracticalities of using a sewing machine in an open plan layout house with an inquisitive 1 year old I found myself completely disappointed in the market place. Most of the craft fairs I visited to scout out were full of duplicated stalls and bought it tat for resale. Pitch fees were high, advertising was poor and footfall was low. I dubbed these events ‘art and crap fairs’. There were of course exceptions to this. But another stumbling block I came across was the long opening hours compounded by early set up and late clear up times. With a toddler in tow and another baby on the way it was never going to work.
Given my back ground in museums and visitor attractions I am pretty good at planning, organising and getting people to come to stuff. So, I decided that if the market place was not suitable for me, I would create a market place that worked for me, and crafting mums like me.
In May 2016 I held the first Made by Mummy Market. Stalls were allocated by application, not a booking form, giving me the chance to curate the makers. Ensuring a diverse mix of crafts on display. The event ran just 1pm-4pm, making it easier for mothers to attend as sellers and book childcare. I marketed the event far and wide on social media, with local press and in local parenting circles.
That first market took place in my local WI Hall. Ten stall holders welcomed 204 visitors in 3 hours, who spent £731.50 on hand made and home made crafts! It was clear that I was on to something, and we were going to need a bigger hall. The following events moved to a larger venue, the beautiful Thief Hall, which can accommodate 25 stalls. At the spring 2017 event 303 visitors spent £2338.50. At the winter event 330 visitors spent £3149.90.
Since founding Made by Mummy Markets in February 2016 customers have spent £9,687.50 on the products made by women all running small businesses from home.
Running the markets I quickly discovered a community of talented, driven and vibrant women. Many of us struggling with the isolation of motherhood and self-employment. Out of this came the idea of a network and support structure. Although amazing, each of the crafters I worked with often had a blind spot in their business skills base. Marketing, book keeping, social media etc.
I set about running training sessions to illuminate these blind spots. We’ve had talks on book keeping, press releases, using social media for marketing, planning, and trading standards.
Made by Mummy Markets is so much more than a craft fair. It’s an affordable market place for crafting mothers to sell their creations. A place to find support and a friendly face, helping mothers to turn hobbies that cost money into businesses that make money.
In terms of my business, right now my own crafting is on hold, as running the markets and training events is all the stimulation I need and the evening office hours are less hazardous to my young children that the pins and needles of my sewing machine. I earn an income from pitch fees at markets and ticket fees for training events. This money takes some of the pressure off my husband’s income, allowing us more freedom to create the home we dream of.
Samantha Jennings, founder of Made by Mummy Markets, mum to Thomas and Emily, wife to David, adopted resident of North Yorkshire.