28 Feb The Illuminate Series: ‘Perth Makers Market’
From being a stallholder to running her own market events , find out how Erin Madeley changed the game in the market scene.
In honor of Women’s Month this March, we put the spotlight on some women of Perth who have paved the way for other women to thrive within the community. In the entrepreneur world, it is challenging to break into the industry; hence community support is very important. In this entry, we are proud to put the highlight on one of Perth’s own girl boss, Erin Madeley, the founder and event manager of Perth Makers Market. It hosts women entrepreneurs in Perth by giving them a space to sell and exhibit their handmade products.
Take a look on what she has to say:
How did you get the idea or concept for this business?
I come from a background of being a stallholder at markets myself. I used to get very frustrated with how many of the markets in Perth were run at the time. It was difficult to get a stall at many markets as they consistently had the same businesses attending, or alternatively I was selling a high quality handmade item alongside imported items and couldn’t compete on price. At the time of starting Perth Makers Market, I wasn’t happy in my job at the time and was looking for something different to do. I’d had the idea for a while so [I] spoke to a friend of mine in the Eastern States who was running a market and asked how much of her time it took up to get an idea of workload, and after falling in love with the space at Heathcote Cultural Precinct, I asked them about hiring the site for an artisan market. After that the rest is history!
What was your mission at the outset?
My mission has always [been] to be able to provide a high quality platform for WA artistans to sell their goods to the public. I have always been committed to supporting students and emerging artists, so we incorporated discounts for them into our pricing. I also saw running my own business as an opportunity to give back to the community so we partner with non-profit organisations for them to fundraise and we also give free spaces to non-profit organisations so they can raise awareness for their causes and fundraise.
What is unique about Perth Makers Market?
I think for us, it is that we are definitely a community. Our stallholders are a wonderful bunch and are all very supportive of one another. What also makes us unique is our mission to give back to the wider community as well as supporting our artists and makers. We are also passionate about educating our stallholders so they have the tools they need to have their handmade business be successful. We offer low cost workshops for them to attend which gives them the opportunity to learn at an affordable rate.
How do you empower women in the community?
For many women, being a stallholder at a market is their first foray into the business world. Many of our stallholders start their business as a hobby, then look to turn it into a business when they realise the potential. For some women the reason they’re starting their handmade business is that they have realised through having children and taking a step back from the “standard” workforce that they’d rather work in an area that they’re passionate in and have more flexibility around their children. For women like this being a stallholder with Perth Makers Market helps them to grow their business and by taking advantage of the learning opportunities we provide their able to grow their businesses.
How do you make it profitable? (This is just to give budding entrepreneurs some ideas.)
The first thing I did when starting Perth Makers Market was sit down and write a business plan. I looked at all the costs and from there worked out what I would need to charge to not only cover my costs, but also to build in some contingency and to also pay myself a wage. My goal starting my own business was to be able to leave my “regular” job so I needed to be able to replace most of that income. The biggest thing to make it profitable was that in the first year every dollar the business earned went straight back into the business, to build the business, rather than paying myself a wage. At the time I was able to do this due to still having a “day” job and I know not everyone can do this, but I was able to. The other thing that is vital to making a business profitable is sticking to my business plan as much as I can in relation to what I was/was not budgeting for. Not only that, but also reviewing income and expenditures regularly to see if I was sticking to my plans, and if not, were the expenses necessary/reasonable and going from there.
How do you market it?
We have a widespread and comprehensive marketing strategy. For us we find that online advertising does seem to give us the best ROI, especially as it is easy to see and measure success. We also make sure that we have physical flyers that we can provide to our stallholders to pass out to their customers.
To what do you attribute your success?
When Perth Makers Market started there was no other strictly locally handmade only market running in Perth. There were Design Markets, Vintage Markets, Retro Markets and markets that have a bit of everything. By any market that was promoting itself as a handmade market wasn’t actually strictly handmade when you actually went and shopped. That is our point of difference. We are very strict with who we do/do not accept and should we find someone who sneaks in a product that they’ve not made themselves, we won’t have them back in the future. I think also making sure that we are bright, fun (not just online, but also when you come to a market), friendly, approachable and above all, honest has helped to make us the success we are today.
What were the struggles you encountered in building Perth Makers Market along the way and how did you overcome these?
There have been many things over the last few years that have been a struggle. In the first year it was going without sleep! My kids were 2 & 4 when I started and I worked 3 days a week. It meant that work on my business was at night once the kids were in bed, so I didn’t go to sleep before 2am any night that year. I’ve had to learn to approach things with a more “business” mindset rather than my natural disposition of just doing things out of the kindness of my heart for free, as otherwise Perth Makers Market would no longer exist. I’ve also had to grow a thicker skin and try not to take things to heart so much after being publicly defamed and also sent malicious and threatening e-mails from people who were unhappy with us enforcing our terms and conditions. The reality is that in business you cannot please everyone and trying to do so will just make you become really unhappy. For me overcoming these things has been through support from my friends and family, as well as regular appointments with my psychologist who helps me keep on top of my anxiety (which would be debilitating otherwise).
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Make sure you have a plan and a goal in mind when starting your business. It doesn’t have to include everything under the sun, but you should at least have some goals in mind so you know what you are working towards. And make sure that your pricing is set so that you can actually pay yourself!
The future ahead of you is dark. You are holding a ‘magic light bulb’, which has the power to illuminate any part in your future. (Means you can take a peek of your future) What part are you seeing?
I hope I’m seeing more people supporting the local handmade community, and that we have been able to help many handmade businesses turn their passions into a full time job. I hope to see Perth Makers Market partnering with local businesses and non-profit organisations to help the community as well.
Indeed, the path towards reaching your goals isn’t an easy one but resources like this- Perth Makers Market- make the journey worth it. If you’re a budding entrepreneur and you know in yourself that you can make it in the business world, we encourage you to join market events such as this. Big things come from small beginnings. You just need to have the courage to go out of your comfort zone and explore possible resources.