By Caitlyn Spanner
Whether punters are heading to the Kelvin Grove Urban Village markets to pick up a coffee and a yummy breakfast, Eat Street markets at Hamilton to indulge in some international cuisine or the Boundary Street markets in West End to check out some vintage wares and fashion, there is a marketplace for every age and interest on offer in Brisbane.
What small businesses, particularly local fashion labels are discovering is that markets are the new place to promote and sell their brand.
Myles Secomb is the founder of The Wanderers Co., which is based on the Sunshine Coast. He frequents markets on the Sunny and Gold Coasts and can be found in his artisan space at the Boundary Street Markets weekly. The Wanderers Co. is influenced by Myles’ work as a photographer, the outdoors, beach culture and design. Initially selling his unisex clothing company online and through social media, Myles’ has been taking advantage of the markets as a bricks and mortar space.
“It gives me an opportunity to set up in a unique space and meet new people and hopefully sell them a couple of shirts… but the benefits go beyond just broadening your customer base,” he says.
Myles has met a lot of likeminded creatives and made plenty of mates from selling at the markets. He has enjoyed the support from the Boundary Street Markets’ organisers, saying that they have been happy to work with his ideas, and is looking to improve the space even further to, “make it more like a traditional retail space in a market setting.”
DYANI is another local fashion label taking advantage of the Boundary Street Markets’ unique setting. Designer Dyani is based in a shipping container six days a week and says she has the best of both worlds, with the benefits of selling in a retail space but with a market atmosphere.
“It's a different way of presenting a retail space and a trend that's taking place all over the world,” she says.
For Dyani the benefits are numerous.
“I like having a space I can make my own merchandise to suit my aesthetic so visitors get a real feel for the brand. Customers at Boundary Street really appreciate locally made design and I've had such a great response.”
Customers can meet the designer of Dyani in person and speak to her about fabrics and designs behind each garment.
“They don't get that level of service or unique product at high street chain stores,” says Dyani.
In 2013 Bessie Head, a local boutique located in the Wintergarden, were forced to close their doors because of high rental prices in the city.
An excerpt of their final Facebook post before closing their doors reads:
“There are many factors that have contributed to our closure - online shopping, decreased spending and lack of consumer confidence to name a few. It is, however, without a doubt the ongoing high rents in the CBD that have delivered the final blow.”
“Rental prices in shopping centres and popular fashion hubs do make it tough for a small business to break into that market,” says Myles from Wanderers Co. Dyani also checked out retail shops but found the shipping container at Boundary Street Markets was very unique and really complemented her label.
“For any new label, markets are a great starting platform without the overheads of going straight online or into a retail space. It just requires dedication and copious amounts of coffee for 4.30am starts,” she says.
Perhaps the markets starting at just $55 per stall are a cheaper and more efficient way to promote fashion businesses and their products.
Myles’ advice for labels starting out at markets: “stick it out and don’t be discouraged by low sales or competition. The markets are a great way for a start up fashion label to begin selling their product.”