Makers, Markets

Maker Interviews: Christmas behind the scenes

This week we spoke briefly to four talented makers about their experiences during the festive season; from increased orders to keeping up with Christmas markets. Whether you're a fellow designer or an avid shopper of all things handmade these interviews will give you an insight into a small business owner's life in the run up to Christmas. 

MICA PEET

Hello! Tell us a little about yourself!

Hello, my names Mica and I’m a jewellery designer working from my studio in Southsea, with the help of my wire fox terrier Reg. I specialise in crafting unique patterned jewellery, inspired by my love of the beautiful natural world combined with modern stylized shapes.

What is the festive season like for your shop?

The Christmas period is defiantly my busiest time, it starts to really ramp up around the second week of November and slows down by the third week of December.

What sort of arrangements do you make to deal with the increased workload?

This year I’m trying to get as much made as possible so when I get really busy I won’t have to do much making, this will hopefully make packing orders much quicker. I have been prepping stock since the end of August and trying to get all my stockists orders out by the end of October defiantly eases up the stress. Family members get roped in for packing duties, especially over Black Friday weekend which is my busiest time of the year.

Do you have any tips for other makers?

I would advise getting out of the studio for a bit as this defiantly helps the mind, I’m lucky to have the beach 10 minutes from my house so escaping with my dog for an hour is great, as well as a good night sleep. I try to stop working by 7 in the busy period or at least do easy jobs like box making on the sofa, preferably with a G&T.

Mica Peet will be at our Brixton Market at the Dogstar on Sunday the 3rd of December.

PUP TART

Hello! Tell us a little about yourself!

Hi I'm Hannah and I run Pup Tart alongside my dog Indy and some excellent helpers. We currently sew sparkly accessories at our brand new studio/shop in North London.

What is the festive season like for your shop?

Every year I say I'll be more prepared and every year I end up in a mad panic to get everything done. Christmas is our busiest time of the year. I would estimate that 60% if our business is made during the period Oct-Dec and every year it takes me by surprise.

What sort of arrangements do you make to deal with the increased workload?

I'm very lucky to have the help of some amazing crafty buddies who come in more often and cut out Christmas pudding bags and pack up orders. Our Pet Bow ties are very popular around this time so we try to have extra stock made up. We've also moved into a new studio which has much more room and making busy times more efficient. I spent 4 years running Pup Tart out of our leaky old conservatory so having lots of space is amazing. We just built an order packing desk which has made our lives so much easier.

Any anecdotes you would like to share?

I have so many silly ones (mostly about posting parcels). I once had to make bow ties during friends’ wedding weekend, everyone was helping the night before and we had to drive around the countryside looking for a post box. Another time there was a big rumour that there would be a late night Saturday post collection at our local post office. I was there in the middle of the night filling up the post box.

You can shop Pup Tart on Saturday 2nd December at the Dogstar, Brixton and on Saturday 16th December at Mercato Metropolitano, Elephant and Castle. Or attend the Pup Tart Pimp my Pouch workshop on Sunday 3rd December at the Dogstar, Brixton.

CLEMENT & CLAUDE

Hello! Tell us a little about yourself!

Hey, I'm Jo! I have been running Clement & Claude for 3.5 years. I started pouring candles on my kitchen table and selling them to friends and family. I now make the candles out of a studio in Walthamstow, I have about 20 stockists and I trade at regular craft fairs and markets. My main goal with the brand is to make affordable and original candles.

What is the festive season like for your shop?

It is MUCH busier! From October onward I have lots of orders coming in from my stockists as well as lots more online orders on my website. Christmas markets and shows also start around October/November time so there is lots going on. 

What sort of arrangements do you make to deal with the increased workload?

I have an amazing candle maker called Lucia who helps out lots with the production of the candles. She usually does extra hours around the Christmas period, and helps out with packing up the stockist orders. I have also recently enlisted my parents! They help out with all of my online orders, packing up the candles and sending them out to the clients. This has been incredibly valuable as I work full time separately to the candles. I generally do extra hours in the evenings and weekends to make sure I am on top of all of the admin side of things. Lastly there is also lots of prep before each market - and lots of driving around London!

See more from Clement & Claude at on Saturday 2nd December at the Dogstar, Brixton and on Saturday 16th December at Mercato Metropolitano, Elephant and Castle.

HELLO MARILU

Hello! Tell us a little about yourself!

Hi, I'm Mary-Ann and I run my creative lifestyle brand Hello Marilu, which I have been doing since July last year. I love designing and making, so all of my products are hand crafted in my South London studio. I screen print my art prints, notebooks and greeting cards, and hand paint ceramics such as plant pots and Christmas Baubles.

What is the festive season like for your shop?

This is my second Christmas running Hello Marilu and my schedule is already really full on in the run up to the big day! It is amazing how much busier Christmas is compared to the rest of the year. I think a big reason for this for me personally is because one of my best selling products are my hand painted Christmas baubles. Each bauble is hand painted and personalised with a name or message. The design is quite intricate and can easily take 20-25 minutes per bauble to paint. Last year I was working on a lot of orders from my home studio, and selling at markets and running my own Bauble painting workshops. This year I am actually working with Fortnum & Mason to offer a live personalisation service in-store, and running Christmas workshops for a few other brands. It’s great to feel that my little business is growing and getting opportunities like this. Of course I will still be selling my baubles on my website and I’m looking forward to taking part in a few Christmas markets as well.  It’s always lovely to meet customers in person!

What sort of arrangements do you make to deal with these changes? Do you work longer hours?

I will be working longer hours, and pretty much seven days a week. I think I only have one day off to look forward to from now until Christmas, which will be my birthday! It can be a little daunting when I look at everything I need to do but it’s also pretty amazing and I know I will be able to rest in January when it will be much, much quieter! I do realise I am lucky to be so busy and I want to make the most of every opportunity for my business throughout the season. I'm also very lucky to have friends and family who have offered to help with a few things. It can be hard working alone at times as you don't want to miss out on opportunities but also you can't physically do everything yourself.

Any anecdotes you'd like to share?

It’s not just Santa’s elves who stay up all night making Christmas gifts! I'm sure there are lots of makers who will be working pretty hard this Christmas season. I think it is great that more people, myself included, are supporting smaller brands and buying original handmade gifts.

You can catch Hello Marilou at our Night Market at the Geffrye Museum on Thursday 14th December.