Meeting Miss Molly


When you ask Handmade designers and producers what they like most about the Handmade Market, they will mostly tell you that they love the sense of community. We hear many stories of the ways in which this community has given people confidence to create and grow. And we’d like to retell one of these stories, that of Miss Molly’s Dolls & Toys.

Melissa and David Frank started creating their version of traditional peg and rag dolls and wooden toys in 2015. Crafted with David’s expert woodworking skills and Melissa’s creativity, they knew they had a great product, but needed to see what the reaction would be so they took their range to a small market in Sydney. During the market, they asked other designers which markets they would recommend, and received resounding feedback that they should apply for Handmade. Melissa did this, and then promptly forgot about it! Her acceptance message went into her email’s junk mail folder and it wan’t until she was called by Handmade to ask for confirmation that her Handmade journey began.

On the day of the market, she and David arrived at EPIC but set up at the wrong market. They were put right however, and having arrived at the correct market, they had 40 minutes to put their stall together in the right location. “With no backdrop, no business cards and no idea, we felt so far out of our depth next to all the wonderful stalls around us,” says Melissa. “We knew our product was good and our new customers looked past the simplicity of our stall, so we made some money that weekend. Still, we spent the weekend marinating in the fact that we weren’t up to the wonderful standard and decided that if we studied how Handmade was doing it, we would be on the right track.”

Melissa started to read our BRANDMADE blog posts, which give advice on branding, packaging, stall set up, social media and more. “I used Brandmade as my encyclopaedia. I had looked for books on how to run small creative businesses and found nothing relevant. Handmade was doing something that no one else had thought of, and I learned so much. I found out how important good graphics are, I made sure my email reflected my business name and I started thinking about my business in a new way.”

She also made it a priority to befriend other Handmade stallholders and bounce ideas off them. “Community is the best thing about Handmade. My favourite time of the market is Sunday morning before the market opens, when the pressure’s off and I can chat to others about how their business is going. I learn snippets like ways they are making changes to improve, how their last quarter went and what’s going in in their social media.” Melissa relishes building these connections and finds that at Handmade, the designers and producers value integrity. Even though she shares ideas with other toy and children’s stalls, there’s never any question of her beautiful products being copied. “There’s no way we’d step on each others’ toes. We all stand tall in our own little niches, even occupying the same genre.”

Participating in this community has had dividends, because Miss Molly’s stall is a delight to visit. Applying everything she has learned from Brandmade and all the research she continues to do, the business is growing. “There is a revolution and rebellion against mass-produced imports and we’re aware of what our customers want. We’re not just a handmade business. We’re artisans, choosing to create simply and in small batches.”

Melissa and David love Canberra. Coming from East Gippsland, they love its regionality and country spirit and find the people warmer than in the bigger cities. Melissa has a lot of gratitude for her Handmade family and relishes their trips. We at Handmade relish having them here. We love the little Handmade doll that they have created to celebrate our tenth birthday, in the Handmade blue and decorated with eucalyptus leaves and wattle flowers. Only 100 were made, each in a handmade box with a numbered certificate card. They can be found at Handmade on 20 & 21 October on the beautiful Miss Molly’s stall.