Celebrating 10 years


We can’t believe it’s been ten years since Handmade was launched by Julie Nichols, but it’s been a great journey. Back in 2008, Julie, who was taking her millinery creations to markets, saw that there was a need for a Canberra market that focused solely on handmade design. With very little money, but a strong idea of the target audience and a business plan to match, the first Handmade Market took place at Albert Hall, presenting just 35 stallholders. Julie was right, and the hall was packed with interested shoppers, delighted by their new market.

The market outgrew Albert Hall, The Yarralumla Woolshed and the Kamberra Wine Company, before finding a home at the National Convention Centre, where crowds regularly numbered 15,000. For a while, the Handmade Shop in Canberra’s CBD provided Handmade with a permanent shopfront, but it closed with the regeneration of the area, and Julie’s focus returned to the market, whose home is now Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC). The market continues to grow and flourish and now offers 260 stalls in three halls overflowing with artisan homewares, intricately created accessories, innovative fashion and a whole hall of gourmet produce and street food stalls. All of this is set to live music and an unbeatable atmosphere of creativity and excitement. Crowds of up to 30,000 people now shop at the market, taking home their unique finds and enjoying the fun of the event.

Now we are almost ten and will be celebrating in style around our October Market, but wanted to start reflecting now on the last ten years, which have seen the market grow, but also support thousands of Australian small businesses and helped them to flourish and blaze trails. Some very small businesses launched in the early days of Handmade and have gone on to become success stories, some of whom we will focus on over the coming months here in Handmade Style.

The Handmade website has grown, the social media is setting trends and the market is talked about all over the country. With a passion for supporting independent, small and creative businesses and connecting them to their target customers, the market brings a high standard in quality, workmanship and sensational customer service, and an interactive relationship with its customers. Handmade is known nationally as a well-organised, supportive and friendly event, representing the best in Australian handmade design and produce. Our modest start planted a seed for change in Canberra and was almost certainly a factor in the city’s metamorphosis from sterile town to the thriving creative and gourmet hub it is today. Here’s to the next ten years of providing Canberra with the perfect shopping experience!