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An Illuminating Experience at Leonardslee!

This year we signed up to the market at Leonardslee Illuminated, with little-to-no idea what to expect.

We had heard many wonderful reviews about this event, and jumped at the chance of hosting a stall there when it was offered to us. The whole team were extremely professional and accommodating, and the scenes from the trail were absolutely stunning. If you haven’t already been, we would thoroughly recommend you go next year!

For very new market traders, one thing we can say with certainty, is that it has been an eye-opening experience for us!

At the time of writing this, We have only completed 3 dates, out of a scheduled 12, and have already learned so many things:

  • Tog up – Being a December night market, it is vitally important to ensure that you are sufficiently dressed for standing in the cold. Although the afternoons may seem mild, the temperature drops significantly as the evening draws in, and one rookie error left my legs feeling absolutely frozen one night.
  • Wear comfortable and waterproof shoes. Trainers just won’t cut it! Despite best efforts, the base of the marquee does gain a few puddles when it rains, and unless you prepare for this, you could end up regretting it
  • Protect your stock! With our merchandise being predominantly paper and canvas, we have to ensure that it is sufficiently protected by the elements. Either being wrapped in cellophane, where possible, or ensuring that they are not at risk from being dripped on by condensation.  On the third night the heating came on much earlier, which helped significantly.
  • No night is the same! On the first night we were really disheartened to begin with, wondering if we had made the right decision, when all of a sudden there was a rush of sales. We waltzed into Saturday hoping it would be a repeat of the night before,  but we hardly made any money at all! We approached Sunday with a feeling of dread, yet it transpired that it was going to exceed our expectations and was the best night of the three… no rhyme or reason, just luck of the draw!  Ain’t nowt as queer as folk!

With so many dates left to come, we still have plenty of mistakes to make and lessons to learn; and we need to be positively reactive to whatever gets thrown at us. We will be adapting our stock slightly as December progresses; concentrating less on the cards as we get closer to Christmas, and putting more focus on the prints and umbrellas, as these will be great last minute spontaneous gifts. 

Once we complete all of the dates, we will give an update on how we think it went, what we would change in the future, and assess what events suit our product best. This year has been a steep learning curve for us, having progressed from attending 3 or 4 art exhibitions a year, to attending outdoor general market stall and advertising online. These are very new mediums to us, and we have to weigh-up the value of everything we participate in. What worked? What didn’t? What was worth the effort and cost?


Now that we are into the New Year and a new Tier, we have the benefit of hindsight and have added a little addendum to the original blog.

Shortly after writing the above blog (and before posting it), we made the decision to stop trading before the end of our run. Covid figures had dramatically increased in the Horsham area, and we no longer felt that it was safe.

Cherry is now back in isolation, as she is on the list of people needing to shield at the moment. We have no regrets about walking away. “Health before Wealth” etc. Fortunately, by the time we packed-up the stall, we had broken-even on our pitch fees, so there were no financial losses to worry about.

Would we do it again?

Not during a Covid pandemic! It wasn’t through any fault of the organisers, who worked very hard to keep us safe, but due to Coronavirus we felt that the level of anxiety about being in a marquee was stopping people from being able to casually browse. This really couldn’t have been helped, but we will be very much led by how Covid figures improve before committing to something similar again.

In future, if it was a warmer climate, and people were able to mingle a little more freely, we feel that this would be an ideal spot to host our products. Spring, Summer or Autumn would be perfect for us.

What next?

This year we are going to focus on expanding our product range and getting our foot into the door of a few more retailers. We aim to have more cards for specific occasions, because our current designs are predominantly generic. We would also like to expand into some other merchandise. Soon we will be asking our followers what they would like to buy from the range: tea towels, tote bags, cups and saucers….. who knows? Watch this space!