Well, week 2 of the West End fair is done and we are heading full speed into the last weekend. I can't believe how quickly it has gone. I have been kept thoroughly busy keeping up with the restocking and Mamma bY Mi has been wonderful helping out at the stall for a few days. Did you meet her? She is quite the sales women.
In the past week and a bit I have had donations of Liberty cotton from ex-colleagues, propositions of science/art projects involving light sensitive electrodes, and countless other conversations with customers about the varying degrees of success they have had folding paper origami.
One of the things I am frequently asked is "have you made everything?" To which I answer "Yes, of course, everything is made by me!"
As all the fairs I do are explicitly for artists, designers and crafters, I have always seen this question in the light of did you make the origami or are you manning the stall for someone who did? But last week I saw the question in a different light.
"Did you make this?"
Surely this is obvious? Apparently not.
This was posted on Facebook by supposed supporters of crafts in Scotland, who also run markets throughout the year for people who hand make items to sell.
| I have decided not to name them to avoid further embarrassment to their members.|
My first reaction to this was that I was personally offended. Do they include me in the "so many traders"? How could they possibly think that I could be "buying in" my pieces? I have spent years and months building my business and making everything I sell.
When you run a business where you are personally hand crafting everything, your personality is entwined with everything from the products to the packaging, signs and website and as such any criticism is felt personally.
My second reaction was anger that the Poster should force me to defend me and my business against this accusation made without evidence. The post does not name a specific market or business, however, by omission it implicates every stall holder at every market in Edinburgh at this time. By my estimate this would be up to 250 artists, designers and crafters, and "so many" could mean 20-30% "buying in their stock". Later correspondence with the Poster indicated that they had suspicions over just 3 or 4 stalls, that's closer to 1% or 2%
I believe that the sweeping statement above is highly irresponsible. Every market relies on the people who come to it and my fears are that if this kind of view takes hold visitors will be put off coming, fearing that they are being tricked. Lack of trust and confidence by the public would mean all crafts and all markets would suffer. Certainly if stallholders are selling pieces that they have not made this needs to be addressed. The correct way is to talk to the stallholder to understand what is being sold before parting with your cash, or if you think you have bought something that isn't handmade contact them and if you do not get a satisfactory answer contact Trading Standards. Please do not post irresponsible comments on social media which only goes to punish the innocent. Despite protests from many stallholders the Poster as not apologised, removed or clarified their statement.
So next time you are at my stall, or any others, please do ask "did you make this?" and I will happily say "yes!"
Thank you for taking the time to read this rather wordy post and if you have any comments please let me know.