Saturday, December 17, 2011

MAAD market!

I was very much looking forward to my very first MAAD (Market of Artists and Designers) market here in Singapore. Back in the US, where I started designing jewelry in 2006, I had done several craft and artisan markets, including fantastic events like the BUST Craftacular in NYC, the Boston Bazaar Bizarre, the Cambridge Design Hive and the fun outdoor South End Open market. I missed doing markets; the buzz in the atmosphere, the feeling of shared camaraderie of a kind of underground movement, meeting like minded people, lots of talented artists and really sweet people who took the time to come out to support independent artisans. As a designer, it often wasn't about making sales at these markets (although of course you hope to make enough to cover your booth fee and travel costs), it was to feel inspired by the wider community, to meet customers in person for a more personalised experience; and even if a shopper doesn't buy anything, them giving the jewelry a compliment (sorry, I'm very needy lol), or them taking a namecard, gave me a warm fuzzy feeling that I am often unable to experience when someone buys from my online shop. (That's maybe why I love it every time my customers write to me!)

To be honest, I wasn't too sure what to expect, as I had done just one fair in Singapore earlier this year (not MAAD), which was very expensive and so poorly attended, I wondered if perhaps Singapore just wasn't too much yet into the craft scene. But, it could also be that it wasn't the right audience for me, and so when I heard about MAAD, I thought I had to give it a try. Original designs, art, live music, beer and wine? What's not to like?

Indeed, MAAD was so much fun and I'm so glad that I did it. It was very well organised (so important when there are so many stalls to manage and so many people to please- Great job Elvin and the rest of the team!), the location (Red Dot Museum) was convenient and lovely (what an honour to show our designs in a museum!), the live music was great and really added to the atmosphere, the homemade icecream and cupcakes were fantastic (homemade unique treats reminds me of farmers' markets!), plenty of beer and wine gave it a fun, festive atmosphere, and, most importantly, there were many great artists and designers in residence and sweet, fun shoppers!


There were many cute things that tempted me, and I finally decided to get this adorable, well-made pouch from Wishing Wiffle for my sister:

Adorable handmade pouch from Wishing Wiffle... cuuute!

 I know that Singapore has tons of great unique design talent, but I also know from growing up here that locals don't necessarily put a big premium on individuallyhandcrafted/handmadeness/shoplocal yet like they do in the US. Markets here are often thought of as flea markets/pasar malams, and perhaps many other local designers might feel like a night out like this might not be worth their time. I was also a little reticent, but was pleasantly surprised! I made some good sales, and many of the shoppers showed genuine interest, took lots of biz cards, were so kind and so sweet about my designs, and often circled back to take a second look. Thank you!! I had so much fun I applied for a booth in January and will try to be back as often as I can.

View from behind my booth- awesome band playing in front!

As a related aside, I think that the movement can only keep growing if the market keeps attracting high quality booths. At many markets that I have attended, many amazing artists and designers with their own brick and mortar stores would set up booths to meet new shoppers and spread the word about their work. I am glad that the curators at MAAD have emphasised no resellers, and I hope that they keep on ensuring that this cardinal rule is followed, as I have been to other markets where I see things that are clearly mass-market bought stuff that are passed off as handmade to resell, which only hurts real crafters if shoppers buy something"original and handmade" in a designer market only to go to Plaza Singapura and see the identical thing with a big fat Made in China sticker on it!

Singapore has become such a vibrant, fun city to live in during the 9 years that I have been away, with cute bookstores and bakeries on Ann Siang Hill, offbeat cafes and restaurants on Duxton Hill, no-pretense and laidback bars on Dunlop Street, indie boutiques from Tiong Bahru to Haji Lane, not to mention awesome vintage furniture and home decor stores that feed my obsession with everything vintage... I am so happy to have found a fantastic art, design and craft market like MAAD that adds to the vibrancy of the scene, and I hope that other designers will join in the fun, and that shoppers will keep coming back to support it. Big thanks to the MAAD organisers for their hard work in making this monthly market happen, and happen so well!

(MAAD attracts cool people like mohawk guy!)

sherry xo

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