NEXT MARKET: 29 & 30 JUN Add to calendar

Good Neighbours

A very wise lady once said “good business is just common sense.” Actually, it was recently, and Handmade’s own Julie Nichols, and related to some very poor customer service and the response “there’s nothing I can do” when things went wrong.

So this Brandmade is about the way your customers, your colleagues, your suppliers and in fact anyone who you do business with perceives you.

Most of us work very hard indeed. If we’re not working, we’re thinking about what needs to be done, ways to improve things and ideas that will grow our businesses. While many of us would like to be having breakfast out with our children, catching up with friends and looking at more photos of cats doing funny things, we don’t. We try to balance our work life and home, but at work, we’re giving a lot more than 100%.

But while we’re in our little bubbles, it’s often hard to think of, understand or appreciate what other people are doing with their businesses and how they interact with ours. Let me give you an example.

Over the last few weeks, Handmade Canberra has come up with a very complex floor plan for the next market, taking into consideration the requests of over 600 designers, health and safety issues, the customer experience and the venue. The team then went individually though over 600 applications and narrowed them down to just 180. The decisions were made taking into account business types (180 toy stalls wouldn’t please Handmade’s customers or the toy designers facing that much competition), quality of product and the buying habits of the over 20,000 customers expected to attend EPIC for the market.

That leaves 420 disappointed designers. Almost all of these lovely people have great products and great businesses. They are unhappy, but understand all of the pieces of the giant jigsaw that makes Handmade the success and the enjoyable experience that it has become. One however, emailed back with the comments “your [sic] not worth pi#%ing about with” and “up yours”. Aside from the fact that the spelling offends this lover of the English language, the message sent has far reaching implications for the business concerned. Firstly, the whole of Handmade’s team is talking about it on social media. Secondly, this business will not be getting a stall at the next markets, costing potential valuable business. Thirdly, this business obviously doesn’t have any concept of the market it is operating in or what’s involved in courting customers, pleasing designers and ensuring smooth-running events. Finally, with commercial correspondence like this, we can assume that customer service is not high on its list of priorities, again costing valuable business.

This isn’t a rant (quite the opposite as it’s had us all giggling). It’s a cold hard look at how ignoring or mistreating the businesses and people that interact with you will cost your business. It’s a statement that if your customer service is poor and the message you send to the people buying your product is that you don’t care, your brand is unlikely to survive.

When I wrote the first Brandmade post, I explained how your brand is a representation not just of your product and logo, but of everything you do. The way you conduct yourself and how you interact with those around you.

And that, my friends, is common sense.


Caroline Leevers is responsible for the Handmade brand, including the website, Handmade Style, the newsletter and the online magazine. When she's not hanging out with the lovely Handmade team, she runs Callie & Co Design, a Canberra graphic design studio that crafts brands for small businesses. Her favourite things about Canberra are the seasons (especially Autumn), the big sky, the coffee and the great events.


  • 23 & 24MARCH 2019
  • 29 & 30JUNE 2019
  • 7 & 8SEPTEMBER 2019
  • 6*, 7 & 8DECEMBER 2019
  • *FRIDAY5PM - 9PM
  • SAT & SUN10AM - 4PM


0402 247 532
EPIC Exhibition Park in Canberra
Flemington Road
Mitchell ACT 2602