Canberra’s creative community has flocked to local markets in recent years to showcase and sell their wares direct to visitors who are reaping the benefits.
Founded by Julie Nichols in 2008, the quarterly award-winning Handmade Market brings together talented artists, designers, stylists, craftspeople and gourmets at Exhibition Park in Mitchell.
The very first market featured just 35 stalls but thousands of shoppers. Now the market have outgrown their previous location and moved to Exhibition Park this year to offer more of everything! More space. More designers. More parking. More food.
Gillian Worral of Look Mama has been selling her Canberra greeting cards at the Handmade Markets for almost five years now after joining the tight-knit community in its formative days.
‘I am a graphic designer by profession so I am always on the lookout for really well designed, well written products. I could never find greeting cards I liked so I decided to make my own,’ Gillian said.
‘A lot of my greeting cards utilise very old photos. If I can team them with some meaningful, funny words then we have a deal. I like to think they get a second life and the fact they can make people laugh is so much the better.’
While her business started with stationery she now also shares her sense of humour on badges and fridge magnets she designs and makes herself.
‘The fact people can stand around laughing their heads off at some silly thing I've done and call their friends over for a look is just the best,’ she said.
The Old Bus Depot Markets - an iconic Australian market
For almost 20 years thousands of shoppers have been flocking to the Kingston Foreshore to attend what has become a Sunday institution – the Old Bus Depot Markets. The national award-winning markets have a focus on showcasing talented designers and craftspeople. Ranked number one for Canberra markets on Trip Advisor, it's one of the best ways to start your Sunday in town.
More than 200 stalls sell everything from freshly-brewed coffee and ground spices to designer fashion and vintage home wares make the Old Bus Depot Markets a sensory experience.
One of the stalls is run by a consortium of three Canberra women who design and make soft furnishings. Gatbi, which stands for Girls And Their Big Ideas, is run by local creatives Cate Huntington, Lesley Anderson and Serina Cardone.
Soon after forming their business in May 2012 they began selling their wares at the Old Bus Depot Markets because they found it was a great way to get their products out into the retail market.
‘The market has a fantastic cross section of people,’ Cate said. ‘One of the good thing about selling at the markets as well is that we can explain our story. Other stallholders are very supportive and full of good ideas.’
Gatbi began with cushions because they provided a large enough screen for the custom prints of the likes of Telstra Tower and Parliament House. However the businesses moved into designing bags, tea towels and aprons, as well as cosmetic bags and badges to make use of any off cuts.
‘We didn’t want it to just be a fabric we loved, we wanted it to have a story as well,’ Cate said. ‘We recycle absolutely every bit of material; we don’t waste anything.’
Hustle&Scout - the fashionable Canberra marketplace
Canberra is home to a tight network of talented fashion enthusiasts, something the founder of the Hustle&Scout Twilight Fashion market wanted to build upon and support. Tegan McAuley formed Hustle&Scout in 2013 after being inspired by the diverse range of local designers showcased at the inaugural FASHFEST.
‘Observing the heart of Canberra's design community being celebrated and cherished in this way really reinforced to me that Canberrans were ready to embrace local, high-end fashion design,’ Ms McAuley said. ‘When I left the event wondering where and how I could buy the garments straight from the runway, my idea for a fashion market was well and truly cemented.’
The popular fashion market aims to create a space where Canberrans can access quality handmade, unique and sustainable fashion each season, with a strong emphasis on supporting emerging Australian designers. Ms McAuley said it’s this fun and energetic approach that makes the market stand out.
‘I want visitors to Hustle&Scout to experience a feast for the senses where they can listen to live musicians and DJs; admire the roaming models; watch a live fashion shoot unfold; sip on cocktails and indulge in a range of delicious locally-produced food; feel, try and buy one-of-a-kind garments and chat to designers,’ she said.
‘The 2,500 people that poured through the doors of the inaugural event was testament to the hunger for high-quality fashion in Canberra at the moment.’
A celebration of food also runs seasonally alongside the market in a fusion of food and fashion. The Forage is a showcase of amazing food and drinks by local cafes, food trucks, wineries and breweries that ‘pops up’ around town.
Where and when the markets are on
The Old Bus Depot Markets are held every Sunday at 21 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston, with some markets featuring themes like the Green Savvy Sunday and Retro Depot.
The Handmade Market is held at Exhibition Park in Mitchell.
The Capital Region Farmers Market is held every Saturday morning at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) in Mitchell.