What seems a lifetime ago now, back in 2008, Julie Nichols launched the very first Handmade Market. Canberra had some great markets, but none that really catered just to handmade designers. Having very little money but a great business plan and vision, Julie launched the first market with a focus on local designers and just 35 stalls. Thousands of shoppers came, making the Handmade Market an instant hit.
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 has returned to the markets, whose home is now Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC). The market continues to grow and flourish and now offers 260 stalls in two halls at EPIC, along with the central conference centre. Stalls offer homewares, gifts, fashion, accessories and food, with a gourmet food hall full of street food vans, creating a feast for the senses and an unbeatable atmosphere of creativity and excitement.
2018 will herald Handmade’s 10th year and will see the extension of the market to five annual events, held in March, May, July, October and December. The market regularly attracts over 20,000 visitors from Canberra and further afield and has an extensive and growing following on social media, with monthly newsletters and an online magazine.
With a passion for supporting independent, small and creative businesses and connecting them to their target customers, the market has a nurturing relationship with its designers and producers who bring 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.
The Handmade Market team now includes kindred spirits with expertise in sales, marketing, design, administration, finance, technology and event management – a formidable and dynamic combination.
MEET THE TEAM
Julie Nichols is the founder, owner and creative director of Handmade. With a background in the RAAF and in hospitality, Julie ran a small millinery business before seeing a gap in Canberra markets for well-run, high quality, Australian markets. Julie’s innate understanding of how to curate product types to create a buzzing event and how to send the right message on social media are combined with her irreverent sense of humour and telling it like it is, which both designers and customers find refreshing and positive.
Debbie Power is the glue that sticks the team together. An amazing organiser, she is the queen of admin and has the Handmade office all organised so it is as slick as it can be. Full of life and innately kind.
Caroline Leevers is responsible for the Handmade brand, including the website, Blog, the newsletter and the online magazine. A graphic designer and brand manager, she has a natural understanding of the designers and their products, going above and beyond to make sure they’re beautifully represented. She brings the market to life on screen and in print.
Erin Dando looks after our social media, photography and marketing. A professional photographer, she’s also a qualified graphic designer and marketing manager, and she used to have her own brand of homewares and stationery, which she sold at markets. Erin’s expertise is perfectly suited to our marketing and social media needs.
Handmade Canberra is a small business with big ideas and a great philosophy: know your target audience, support local designers and producers by bringing crowds of enthusiastic shoppers and provide amazing customer service. As a result, we have won several awards over the last few years.
Canberra Business Point – Creative Design – Finalist Telstra ACT Micro Business Award – Finalist
Canberra Business Point – Creative Design – Winner Tourism – Specialised Retail – Commendation Telstra ACT Start Up Award – Winner
Telstra STATE Start up Award – Finalist
Canberra Business Point – High Growth – Winner Tourism – Specialised Retail – Commendation Telstra ACT Start up Award – Finalist