So a few weeks ago I decided to be proactive and booked myself a space at the ‘Cabbages and Frocks’ Saturday market on Marylebone High Street to sell some sweet and savory goods made by myself.
It was kind of scary since I took this as an initial experiment to see if my products would be popular (and be worth investing in) and would have had to accept the harsh reality if no one was interested!
Before I knew it was the Thursday evening before the day of my stall and I’d hardly prepared. I’d had a long and busy week and was supposed to get a helping hand the next day but that didn’t work out last minute (panic!) so I had to improvise and be efficient. I’m a mathematician by nature and operate by formulas and the first thing I did when I got home from the office was write up a list and devise a master plan, a formula of how I was going to tackle this in the few hours I’d had left to prepare . (Still hadn’t done most my grocery shopping plus I don’t have a car which makes it harder!). Knowing that I would be occupied with other things for the majority of Friday daytime I knew I HAD to make a swift start and prepare my chocolate covered dates and figs that evening.
I was about to start melting the chocolate for the figs when I was stopped by the worst headache ever, I tried to persist but it was really awful and I usually never get headaches!! I had no choice but to give up and go to sleep, this was not a good start at all and so much for my master plan!
It wasn’t until 6pm on the Friday the day before my stall that I actually got to begin, I started with the sweet stuff first, my rose and pistachio cookies, ultimate chocolate brownies made with Valrhona Chocolate (only the best!) then moved on to making my spiced pitta bread crisps and the dips. Don’t forget I also had all the packaging to do and I care A LOT about presentation!
So next the thing I know it’s about 3:30 am on Saturday morning (oh how time flies when you’re having fun..) and I’m still going strong. By now I came to accept that I wasn’t gonna get any sleep. (Didn’t even have time to think about the consequences of that). Oh and I had to give up on the chocolate dipped dates and figs since there was no time, it actually worked out well though since it turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far and all that stuff would have melted at my stand- see everything happens for a reason! Still I needed something else to add to my array and I had all these succulent jumbo Medjool dates left (one of the most expensive types). I decided to make some date scones, I’d never made scones before but luckily they turned out great although by the time I’d finished baking it was 7am! So not a wink of sleep but AT LEAST MY SCONES WERE FRESHLY BAKED! You have to look at the positives! (So I kept telling myself.)
A friend came to pick me up at about 8am and help me set up. (8am on a Saturday! Ahh my friends are amazing!) I was soo excited when I sold my first thing- a bag of rose cookies (I even wanted to knock a pound off the price (£5.50) for that reason but the customer insisted she was more than happy to pay the full amount) Seriously though it was such a great feeling to know that a complete stranger was willing to buy something that I made entirely myself!
The guy at the stall next to me was selling the most beautiful jewelry (Ana Verdun) and he was proudly stating that his wife designed all the pieces, so cute!
There was a lot of entertainment throughout the day, people from other food stalls being nosey and trying to encourage me to go to different markets! One lady selling (or trying to sell) gluten-free cakes but actually ending up spending most her time lurking around me and then complaining to the manager that my brownies were affecting her sales! (Oopsie!) By this time I was beginning to suss what the market culture is about. (You trust no one but your customers!!).
From the start I was in a seriously hyper and hysterical mood thanks to no sleep and lots of sugar! By lunchtime my King’s College London marketing troops came along to show their support and what did they do? They sat me down to a side (they thought I was gonna collapse), made me have lunch and they stuck around until the end. No wonder my sales were good I had an award winning marketing team take over the show! With other friends passing by too and the sun shining it really turned out to be a fun day.
At the end it was my smoked aubergine and pomegranate dip that stole the show. Not only did it sell out but I also had a customer stressed stating that his wife had tried it at my stall earlier and sent him all the way back to me to get some and now she was going to get annoyed at him! Saying that the brownies were a big hit too.. My mum passed by at the very end, tried what was left of the aubergine dip taster pot and in a typical mum fashion had to criticize stating it needed more olive oil and salt (well if it was that popular without it..). Still I get my talent and many of my ideas from my mum!
Conclusion: I can definatly say that for a first trial it was more successful than I imagined! Next time I will have to be much more organized though for sure! I owe so much to the wonderful people around me who helped make it a successful day and are continuing to support me! I’m planning to do a few more over the summer and it’s all about keeping my friends involved- free food and fun is in it for them, and free labour is in it for me 😉
(Photography by Phil Ammon).