Posted: Fri 14th Feb 2014
Most stories that start with "I roped in my husband" don't end well, but Sinead Koehler's is a happy start-up with a happy ending. Crafty Fox Market in South London is going from strength to strength. We talked to Sinead about the husband/wife partnership that lives and works well together.
In 2010 Sinead Koehler was traveling across town to sell her handmade jewellery at a market in North London and wondered why there weren't any opportunities to trade closer to home in South London.
"I decided the only thing to do was to put on my own event. I roped in my husband, Stephan, who had spent years promoting club nights in Dublin. We were very lucky that our friend Jimbobart was excited about the project too and was keen to be involved from the start. He came up with the visual identity of the fox character. Our first Christmas Market was in 2010. Shoppers loved the warm Crafty Fox atmosphere and were impressed by the range of work on offer. Many asked when the next event would be, so we decided to run with it."
The couple have since run a total of 11 Crafty Fox Markets, hosting 40-50 traders each time.
"We always strive to showcase as many new traders as possible as there are so many talented makers and artists out there. The volume of applications has been steadily increasing and we now receive around four applications for every available space. Selecting traders has become increasingly challenging, so in 2012 we began inviting expert guest curators to lend their expertise. This has an added advantage of keeping the markets fresh as each guest curator's personal taste is reflected in the final stall selections."
An opt-in mailing list has been a valuable tool enabling Sinead to directly communicate with people who have expressed interest in the company.
"The list grows on a daily basis. We have a sign-up form on our website and gather sign- ups at events."
As well as the markets, a new series of Crafty Fox Talks has been introduced to bring together the crafty community to listen to inspiring speakers and make connections.
"To date, each of the events has sold-out. This has helped to raise both revenue and profile for Crafty Fox and we're planning to expand both the markets and talks to new areas of London in the next year. Sourcing talented new traders and supporting those who are starting out with market trading will continue to be a key focus."
When it comes to how this couple manage to work and live together, Sinead explains that it took a while to clearly define respective roles.
"Over time our strengths and weaknesses came to the surface and fortunately we have complementary skill-sets. Stephan has a full-time job working in marketing so his time for Crafty Fox is more limited. I handle the day-to-day management of the business and all the admin that goes with it. When it comes to promoting each event, I'll typically manage everything online while Stephan will take the lead on offline activity like postering and flyering. Stephan acts as my sounding board for new ideas and helps with strategic thinking.
"For the first three years, we were both in full-time employment and ran Crafty Fox Market at evenings and weekends. For the past four months, I've been working two days a week on the business while looking after our young son the rest of the time. Stephan still has a full-time job so makes use of time outside working hours."
The couple are powering ahead with new opportunities for growth and Sinead continues to build profile by speaking at events - as well as hosting her own. With this kind of upbringing, you can only wonder if Koehler Junior will grow up to be a top notch entrepreneur himself.
Applications for Crafty Fox's Spring Markets are open until February 21st. Guest curators this time are David Nicholls, Design Editor of the Telegraph Magazine, and Amelia Gregory of Amelia's Magazine. Find out more at www.craftyfoxmarket.co.uk/markets