We caught up with Sinead Kohler of Crafty Fox Market in London about how she started her business, what advice she would give her younger self and emerging contemporary craft makers today:
Tell us a bit about you and how you came to set up Crafty Fox Market…
I started Crafty Fox Market in 2010. At that time, I was making and selling jewellery alongside a job in event management, often travelling around London at the weekends to sell at markets. As a maker and market trader I wanted to create something which had the makers at its heart. A lightbulb pinged above my head – I decided that the only thing to do was to put on my own event. I roped in my husband Stephan who spent years promoting club nights in Dublin. Our illustrator friend Jimbobart was excited about the project too and when he created the amazing fox illustration, the project really came to life. Within a few weeks we had confirmed the Dogstar, Brixton as our venue and our promotional efforts began. Our first Christmas Market was buzzing. Shoppers enjoyed meeting the traders and hearing the stories behind their handmade products. The music, drinks and workshops helped create the relaxed shopping experience that we were after. Since then, we have been running markets several times a year in interesting venues including night clubs, museums, galleries and pubs. Demand for stalls has increased over time and we now invite guest curators to help with the selection. We love discovering fresh talent and our programme of traders, workshops and DJs is continually evolving. Our traders are at the heart of all we do and we feel privileged to be in a position to champion such a talented bunch.
What are the key things you look for when choosing craft makers for your curated markets?
Ultimately, we are looking for a broad mix of traders selling high-quality products that we know will appeal to our audience. Our criteria states that items must either be handmade by the maker or be produced on a small scale within the UK based on original designs.
You have recently developed an online shopping directory for Crafty Fox – how have you/the craft makers found it so far?
It’s been a really interesting project as it’s aimed at both the consumer and the trade audience. We have had some great success stories off the back of it already. For example, Promises Promises jewellery were commissioned to produce a bespoke piece of jewellery for the British Library shop as a direct result of being part of our Shopping With Soul directory. I think there is loads more that we can do with the directory and I’m excited about developing and growing it over the coming months.
In your opinion, what is the contemporary craft scene like in the UK at the moment?
I think it’s very much alive at the moment with more and more new makers coming through all the time. Ceramics in particular are massively popular at the moment. Consumers are increasingly interested in the provenance of products which is great for sales and for events like Crafty Fox Market. Also the growth of social media has really helped the craft scene in that it provides a direct link between the makers and the consumers. I’m forever finding new things to add to my wish list from Instagram!
If you can offer one piece of advice to your younger self/or emerging craft makers and creatives what would it be?
To emerging makers, I would say that it’s extremely important to develop your own unique style. Try not to be too influenced by others or by passing fashions. For us, it’s disheartening to see lots of people making very similar products and we love to see fresh ideas coming through.
To my younger self, I would say don’t be afraid to hand over control to others – it can be difficult to do but I’ve had greatest success when I’ve collaborated with others.
What is next for Crafty Fox?
The next Crafty Fox Market is Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September at the Bussey Building in Peckham. This event forms part of Peckham festival so there’s loads of reasons to come to Peckham that weekend! We are also busy working on an event called Design Circus on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24th September which is part of London Design Festival under the Brixton Design Trail banner. It’s a collaboration with BRIXI and includes an exciting mix of installations, workshops, live art and activities alongside the stalls – all with a circus theme!
You can also learn How to set up your own pop-up shop or gallery at our free workshop on Tuesday 14th November at Bridport Arts Centre. Book here.