I’m at the end of my Christmas Market marathon for this year and thankfully it’s been a great season for me. I enjoy doing markets because I get to chat to customers face to face and engage and find out what they like and don’t like and it’s always fantastic to see customers coming back again and again. Reflecting back though, one thing which has really stood out for me this year, though, has been the importance of having well run craft markets, aimed at people who prefer to buy handmade products.
Long before I began to make candles, I would have been that customer, the one who prefers the unusual, the inspired, and the different product. I’d actively seek out things that weren’t so run of the mill. I think that people who are shopping in that frame of mind are put off by having cheaper imported products on sale, products which aren’t handmade or of the same quality. We need more markets which are specifically for craft products so that both the buyer and the seller knows that there is a standard and that what is available is handcrafted in Ireland.
I wrote a little bit about this in my guestblog on Dannann Crafts and discussed how important Irish Craft is for the tourist industry. From the point of view of sellers also, it is impossible to compete with imported products. It’s easy to set a low price when goods are imported cheaply and there is no labour involved.
I’ve done some great markets this year and one particularly horrendous one and the difference comes down to care about quality and a commitment to Irish handmade products. It also ties in with the concept of buying locally and I wrote about this last year in my shop local post.
One venture I was delighted to support and be part of this year was An Siopa Nollaig in Portarlington. This is a pop up shop in the town of Portarlington set up and run by Kellyann Hyland and Kimberly Gorak Melia. I met Kellyann whilst doing various markets last year and we were definitely on the same page when it came to quality of craft so I was very happy to supply my candles to An Siopa Nollaig. It's situated on Upper Main St. in Portarlington, Co. Laois and is a treasure trove of beautiful handmade products. Both Kellyann and Kimberly are passionate about handmade craft and everything in the shop is just that. From knitwear to art, soaps and upcycled items and of course my candles, there's something for everyone!
Portarlington is also my mum's home town and I spend many happy weekends there as a child visiting my granny so it was great for me on a personal level to be involved in something in the town.
Here's a little taster of some of the products available but do pop into the shop if you're in the area to see the full range.
I'm hoping 2015 will be a great year for Irish Craft and I will definitely be continuing to support and talk about it here on the blog. For now, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year!
Many Happy Returns from Purity Belle Candles :)