Friday, 3 July 2009


I am so exhausted. I didn't drag my aching body out of bed until past midday and have spent most of the day on the sofa blurry eyed attempting to edit a chapter, or keep my concentration up for longer than a few minutes. I'd forgotten just what hard work it is standing up all day. I don't remember it being quite so tiring when I was at Borough. Then again, when I worked that market I hadn't spent the week beforehand putting in long days baking, preserving, designing business cards, labels and obsessing over stall layouts.

I don't think the heat helped much either!

Who's idea was it to make it the hottest day of the year when I had to stand up for eleven hours trying to sell homemade products to overheated tourists?!

Another bad picture as I didn't want to risk my camera at the market, but you get the idea of what my little stall looked like. I was expecting a double pitch and had planned the amount of stock I had accordingly, so I was a little disappointed to discover I only had one table to squeeze things onto. However, I did the best I could. I think.

The whole thing was such a learning curve, and the heat probably made the day a little unusual, but I feel like I've learnt so much. Overall I was pleased with the experience, but disappointed with the result. I know that must sound strange, but I'll explain. The response from people was wonderful, everyone was really interested in my flavour pairing, and encouraging about me trying to kick-start the From a North London Kitchen empire. Also, I couldn't believe how many people came down to show support, not only my friends (friends I hadn't seen for years who took time out of their precious lunch hours to keep me company, or friends who walked all the way from north london just to visit for half an hour, or friends who took tubes from work just to stop by) but also people from the blogging world, and the UK food bloggers association. It comfirmed what I already knew, that you lot out there are an amazing supportive bunch.

I got to meet the lovely lady of Green Ink (who was wearing the most fabulous green summer dress *want*), and soon after Julia of A Slice of Cherry Pie and Kavey of Kavey Eats bumped into each other in front of the stall. Their smiles and enthusiasm got me through the final hours, and Julia took what I'm sure are some very embarrassing photos, which she's promised to share in the next week or so. Oh dear!

I also caught up with some friends from Borough (who even let me store my leftover stock in their premises until next week, saving me a cab ride that would have left me with virtually no cash after a hard days work), and made some new ones, reminding me of the great camaraderie of the market, something that make the hard days worth it.

But, the actual selling didn't go as well as I'd hoped. The preserves went well, which is great, but the baked stuff just wasn't going. Frankly, I don't blame people as it was so unbelievably hot in the piazza that I didn't touch a bite all day and the last thing I would have wanted would have been baked stuff. However, I had spent almost fourteen hours the day before making as much as possible in fear of running out of stock and not being able to fill the space, and so going home having sold only a sixth of it was somewhat demoralising.

I'm hoping that next week it'll be cooler and people will be in the mood for some tasty goodies (well, I think they're tasty). I did speak to another trader who I know from Borough who said she just couldn't figure Covent Garden out, no week has yielded anything expected. Something that was nice to know.

So yes, there it is. A real mixed bag. I'm glad I'm doing more than one week, because I think if yesterday had been it I might have been ready to quit the whole stupid idea of starting a company. As it happens, I got enough positive feedback about my preserves, and enough people interested in my business cards, that I shall push on, try new things, and do it all over again with excitement and anticipation for the second go.

I'm mad aren't I?!


Lynne said...

Stark staring raving !!! But that's what it takes to do this kind of thing and I'm so proud of you. The stall looks wonderful and as the weather seems to have well and truly broken you are bound to have a very different day next week. Love

Sarah, The New Girl said...

that does sound like a mix-- but overall I think you should be so excited to have learned what you learned. And to have seen so many friends and bloggers! I definitely would have been there if it wasn't for this big pond in our way :)

I think it's so great that you're doing what you're doing. Takes a lot of guts and a lot of time-- but I'm betting that as you keep doing this and learning more and all of that, you'll look back on this experience as a happy one!!

So CONGRATS is in order then, because it sounds to me like you should consider it a success :)

Kavey said...

It was lovely to meet you!

Your stall was very professional and Pete ate his peppermint creams last night - they disappeared so fast!

The sister and her boyfriend took theirs home with them but were chuffed with the wee gifts!

A lot to live up to when I do my own date on the stall!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

What a great effort, Rebecca!

What kind of baked goods did you try to sell? I can't quite see from the photo.

BeadBag said...

I think you're right - it was just too hot. A bit disheartening though when you've put so much work in. It does take a lot of courage to go out there and sell your stuff. Loads of luck for the next go.

Rebecca said...

Wow everyone, thank you for all the kinds words and support.

Forkful - I had cookies, scones, lemon and rosemary loaves and fruit crumble slices. I think in retrospect I tried to go for things that I thought would sell, rather than things that showed off my skills. I'm hoping for cooler weather this week so I can change things a bit and take more interesting stock.

Kavey - glad the peppermints went down well!

Nicole said...

Congrats on the first big step, I bet it will only get easier from here.

Nicole said...

btw...your display looks wonderful.