Wednesday, 7 July 2010
Lu's handmade driftwood stall
This tale of success and creativity begins here, in Queenstown, New Zealand. This is my second week here, and last Saturday saw the manifestation of something very inspiring.
Let yourself become immersed in what you’re about to learn…
Craig and Lucy are a couple I can now proudly call “my friends”. Hailing from Devon, back home in the UK, they have been travelling around NZ in a ‘HiAce’ Campervan for the last 5 months – an impressive effort, considering neither has attacked one another regardless of such a confined space! Remarkable!
To top that however, is not only their chilled vibes and willingness for new adventures and experiences, but Lucy’s ability to create. Creating crafts – of all shapes and sizes – now seems to come second nature to Lucy; so much so, she and Craig taught me how to create something of my own – a privilege, I must say.
Each shell has a hand-written label attached telling you its origin
The reason I’m writing about this is for two very relevant reasons –
1. For support – there’s not enough support going around from friends to friends, to help each establish their foundations. For example, I’m so thrilled that I have met someone who has found their passion and talent in the same package; the least I can do is write a little passage about it here.
2. The skills that Lucy possesses, not only go perfectly with life on the road, but also contain a sense of primal ‘togetherness’ with them; or at least, the art of craft-making can bring people together, (as this post will show) a factor that has seem to become trampled upon and somewhat buried in modern-day activities. For once, the competition of existence is put on hold, and instead, a time where sharing knowledge and skills now takes the podium.
Queenstown's Craft Market bustling
Every Saturday in central Queenstown sees the local craft market take the spotlight down at the lake-fronted Earnslaw Park.
A day or two before the market, all three of us went out ‘driftwood hunting’ – searching for materials to create Lucy’s display stand. The idea was to create something that the jewellery and other handmade items could hang from.
Hangin' out the goods!
Craig, a chippy by trade back in the UK, knocked up the stand in a couple of minutes with my trusty five-finger-discounted multi-tool, and hey presto, next thing we know, we’re all down at the marche, and loving it!
Up early for the setup, the day would bring forth lots of useful lessons that would be taken on board by all of us. For example, little things such as the height of your stall, can make a tremendous difference to sales and levels of interest.
However, the idea of the day wasn’t primarily to make paper. It was more about giving Lucy the hands on experience of what it’s like to trade via markets, meeting knew people, exchanging ideas and craft techniques, eating chips in the sun and learning how to savour every bit of body heat (looking at every stallholder, they all looked cold in some way or another!).
After the sun crept its way over the surrounding Queenstown mountain ranges, momentum started to gather as crowds began to defrost from their hibernation chambers and slowly, crawled their way through the miniature streets of marketdom.
Crowds gather to marvel at the craftiness
I was on tea runs – quite amusingly bombing down hills on my skateboard, back to the hostel to fill up a cuppa or two, then straight back down the slopes, teas in both hands. Quite a rush, I tell you.
After a trip or two back and forth, I noticed people chatting with Lucy, showing their interest, and before long, the first couple of purchases started to roll through.
For $35 and 7 hours of your time, you can set up a stall through the local council, and as long as all your stuff is handmade, you can sell it.
For the past few nights since I had met Lucy and Craig, we would be chatting whilst Lu would be knotting and crafting away.
The skill of making something with your hands couldn’t really be more in tune with how life works on the road – for those of you that have or are travelling extensively, you will know what I mean.
You can make someone a gift. You can teach them to make something to give as a gift to someone else. You can sell it. You can trade and barter with it. You can exhibit it. You can make it for fun. You can post it all over the world. You can customise it to each person. The list goes on.
Lu's selection of hand-made keyrings
Lucy, to date, is my favourite example of how one can survive financially, whilst keeping her sanity and pieces of her soul intact, without selling out to the machine – all the while having fun and gaining new experiences and shared moments with fellow travellers, anywhere in the world! ‘Can’t afford it.’!? Bollocks! Learn to craft!
So to all of you out there still craving for the ‘proper job’ and the oh-so-illusive ‘career path’, simply because you don’t believe in any other way or even know where to begin placing your faith (with regards to ‘alternative’ options), focus your attention towards Lucy. You might learn something useful.
The market was a great success. I think it’s fair to say that Lucy did actually sell more than she thought she would. Remember, this was her first market ever.
Lu's first happy customer!
But not only breaking even on the cost of setting up a stall and taking home enough for a nice portion of fish and chips – experiences and moments were shared and interchanged on that day too; something which can’t be priced.
Our mates from the hostels came down, marvelling at what Craig and Lucy had manifested from just their supplies they had retrieved from their campervan.
Some more satisfied customers
Music padded in the background, the sun kept limbs above freezing point, and the constant stream of people complimented the friendly chatter that was exchanged amongst us.
'Keep it Frosty!'
Tea, trades, friends and tunes.
Welcome to the world of craft markets.