Time Out Melbourne

250 stalls of hot design talent hit the Royal Exhibition Building

Finders Keepers is your next-level craft market. Launching it in 2008 as a response to fuddy-duddy nana craft markets, Brooke Johnston and Sarah Thornton have plugged a hole in the market for quality, andmade items – no croched-covered toilet-roll holders here. What started as a cute, 25-stall operation is now a three-day extravaganza with over 250 handpicked design and art stalls. There's even a section devoted to vintage fashion, and plenty of food trucks to keep you sustained.

As she prepares for the spring edition of Finders Keepers, Sarah Thornton takes five to share what she's learned about running a design market:

Sarah, what advice have you got for emerging designers?
Start small, stay true to yourself and your vision. Don’t copy other designers or products, look for something unique and something you’re passionate about. Stay humble and eager – you’ve got to learn and adapt your brand as you go. Read about and learn and absorb from others who have forged their paths ahead of you.

Who's been the hottest designer you've worked with? Who's flourished?

We’ve seen lots of amazing designers grow over the years who started small at the Finders Keepers markets. Emily Green, a Melbourne based designer, is a great example of that – she’s now stocked in stores all over Australia and internationally [she’s even done print collaborations with New York fashion label Isoude].

What items are over-saturating the design market?
Jewellery remains super competitive. It’s the hardest category to curate as there are so many talented designers, but we need to have a good distribution of categories at our events. Candles are also getting competitive again. Ceramics and textiles are huge, as is “scripty" art – it’s everywhere now.

When you think about the successful emerging designers who've been through Finders Keepers – are there any points of consistency or themes? What are they getting right?
The successful designers evolve and change their strategy, display and products. You have to keep fresh to stay ahead of the game. The design world can be super competitive, so you can’t sit still.

The markets were in part prompted by your shared frustration with existing handmade market and the grief that people gave you over the price of quality handmade items. Have community attitudes to quality handmade items shifted?
Absolutely – everything has changed massively in our eight years of working on markets. Its been so exciting to pioneer a movement and be involved in the the organic growth of handmade design in Australia. Each year gets better.

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Finders Keepers Market details

9 Nicholson St, Carlton 3053

Telephone 9658 9658

Price $2.00

Date 02-04 Oct

Open Fri 6-10pm; Sat 10am-5pm; Sun 10am-4pm

Finders Keepers Market website

Royal Exhibition Building & Carlton Gardens map

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