In May and with some trepidation, I began getting up earlier on a Saturday morning to head off to Skibbereen Farmers Market. Having had several years experience of the bricks and mortar kind of retailing, being outside in what is basically an open tent and subjected to the weather, was a scenario that was a little daunting. However, my partner, Donagh Carey, a fine artist, was to join me and together we brought a combination of wares that possibly hadn't been seen together at Skibbereen Market before.
Skibbereen Farmers Market is everything you want a market to be. A diverse collection of local stallholders selling interesting things that you actually want to buy. For those who appreciate Slow Food, you can do your weekly shop at Skibbereen Market and be confident that you're buying from the person who has produced it and who has travelled just a few miles. You can only get fruit and veg that's in season, because you'll only find local food here. There are stalls specialising in collectable jewellery, glassware or china, secondhand books and vinyl records. There are contemporary ceramicists and knitters of hand dyed yarn, plus many stalls selling plants for the garden or polytunnel and a lady who grows her own flowers and sells the most charming cut flower bouquets. It's a real authentic market.
Having a website is grand, in fact in the 21st Century it's essential, but I was missing out on interacting with clients and getting feedback. It's one thing presenting images and descriptions online and a totally different experience meeting people one-to-one and hearing their responses and seeing how the clothes actually fit. And of course, for customers, it's much easier to know whether something is going to suit you if you have it right in front of you and can see and feel it. I've even customised a private fitting area complete with mirror and carpet so you can try things on.
There are many lovely aspects to spending a Saturday at Skibbereen Farmers Market and they are all connected to the people who are there, both stallholders and market goers. Having an opportunity to have conversations about sustainability and what it means, finding out what resonates and what is important to different people and explain how I'm approaching sustainability in the collection, all make for a very fulfilling day at the market. One lady, dreamily lost in her own thoughts whilst examining a garment made of printed cotton fabric, suddenly commented, "These remind me of clothes I use to wear". That will do for me.
We'll be at Skibbereen Farmers Market on the Fairfield off Bridge Street every Saturday from 9am to 2pm come rain or shine (but probably not hurricane). Contact me for me details on anything to do with the collection or the market. For more information about the work of Donagh Carey click here.