I have a confession to make – I love shopping. A bit of retail therapy goes a long way with me and one of my favourite things to do is spend a day wandering around shops, browsing, touching, smelling, trying on and purchasing products, clothing and giftware. I love to do this alone, with no-one to worry about or fit in with and can spend hours wandering semi-aimlessly through a good shopping mall.
But even better than store shopping is market shopping. Not just any old markets, mind you, but makers markets, crafters markets, artisan markets, call them what you will. You know, the sort where the person who has grown, baked or made the goods is actually standing right there, selling them and eager to chat about the process. There’s something extra special about a cute little stall filled with goodies and manned by the maker themself. Perhaps it’s the shortened supply chain and the fact you can go straight to the source for the freshest produce and most original artworks, homewares or clothing. Perhaps it’s the way you can feel their passion as you take the time to listen to their story and the story of their wares.
The personal touch makes such a difference. I love chatting to artists about their work and discovering their inspiration. I love hearing the story of how the photographer stood in a storm, terrified of being struck by lightning to get that one stunning shot. I love hearing of the travels that inspired a particular candle scent or spice mix. I even love hearing about the happy pigs who became my salami. I love seeing a mother and daughter proudly selling delicious breads and pastries baked overnight by the most important man in their lives. I love being told my new earrings are original and one off, hand painted and although part of a range, no other pair are exactly the same.
One weekend we were in Southbank and the markets were right there, so of course I had to pay them a quick visit. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, which in my experience is always when you find something amazing. I was allowed twenty minutes by my husband, my son and his girlfriend, who dared to write off markets as ‘a mum thing’. Oh no, believe me, it’s much more than that. I loved markets long before I even wanted to be a mum. I whizzed around, quickly bypassing stalls full of souvenirs, crystals, cosmetics, fudge, art prints the same as every other market, clothing which I didn’t need, in search of something a bit special, unique and created by the stall holder. I spotted a stand with some colourful jewellery and a curly-haired stall holder wearing bright flowers in her hair. This woman clearly had no fear of colour. I was instantly attracted to her cute little stall and moved over to take a closer look. You see, I’ve been searching for some bright earrings for a while. As I browsed, Jo of Curly Jo Design (now hellolittlefriday.com) started chatting to me. As I picked up a pair of stylised bird earrings, she started to tell me the story of their range. She explained they were her new thing and her current focus, a range of hand
painted earrings and necklaces in happy colours. I listened as she explained there was much more to come; this was just the beginning. I heard how each was individual and co-ordinated with but didn’t exactly match a necklace. She chatted about how her mother had been wearing one of her necklaces, received a compliment and sold it to the person she was speaking with, later requesting a new one for herself – now that’s a proud mum for you! As Jo spoke, her passion for her work was unmistakeable and her excitement contagious. She clearly loves what she does, loves to share it and is thrilled when others see its’ beauty and value. This is what I love about market shopping.
As we chatted, Jo spoke of a recent turning point. She had wanted to change direction, to do something different. She expressed this desire to her husband, explaining she just didn’t feel like she could. His response was a game changer. It went something like this,
“Well why can’t you?” he asked, “Surely you can do whatever you want? You are your own boss.”
A light came on, she realised this is exactly why she does what she does and her label, hello little friday is the ultimate result of this everyday conversation.
Reflecting on this later, I thought of my own situation.
How often have I wanted to do something and felt held back, like I can’t due to expectations, responsibilities, confidence, experience, budget or whatever? Too many.
How many times have you wanted to do something, whether mind-blowingly huge or really insignificant in the scheme of things, and felt like you just couldn’t?
What if . . . we approached our hopes and dreams with a “Why can’t I?” or “Why not?” attitude rather than an “I can’t do that” one?
I’m willing to give it a go. How about you?