I love this time of year.
Even though I love the beach and I’m a ski-a-holic, autumn is still my favourite season by far. We have been able to take full advantage of the outdoors this week because we have been puppy sitting for the whole clan.
Meet Whistler, Lizzy, Jazz and Popsta:
Whistler is only just allowed to go for walks so we have been exploring the park together. The turning of the leaves have been reminding me of this time last year when I had just completed my second marathon in the greatest city in the world (New York), alongside my good friend Rachael.
Running through the streets of Brooklyn, lined by golden and red trees, being cheered on by thousands of people; running to the sounds of a different band on every street corner just there for us, to help us on our way, was one of the best experiences of my life. It has inspired me to get the running shoes back on this week, again something that has been on the to do list for months.
We have done no exercise during the four months since setting up Bluebird – unless you count carrying boxes to and from market stalls, across festival sites and making 500 cups of tea a day while standing in a field?
Mike jokes that when we make it big and write the standard ‘Business from my kitchen table’ self help book, we can call it: ‘How Bluebird made us fat’. Got a certain ring to it I think.
It was on the marathon trip that I decided that I was going to agree to fly out to meet Mike in Canada. And it was on that trip that I knew I was going to follow that voice inside saying: ‘start your own business, go on prove it’s possible’.
It was perhaps the long hours spent just running, surrounded by incredible places and people and it definitely helped that I had Rach there to be a soundboard, an ally, a reasoning voice, an interested listener. One thing I have learnt on this journey so far is that being around people who truly get what you are doing and genuinely share in your achievements and excitement makes such a huge difference. As does being in creative and inspiring environments.
Last weekend we were in an equally inspiring place, a little closer to home; Brixton Market, London. The lovely people that organise the market were one of the space holders at Spaced, who chose us after being impressed by our pitch. They are keen for us to attend the market and have offered us a free pitch going forward.
After just one weekend there we are already getting some great vibes. In Brixton, cultures have collided in this amazing way so around every corner I thought I was back on the streets of India, Zambia, Egypt, Nepal, and Malaysia all at the same time. It is also such a hot bed for unique, incredible talent and ideas.
The standard of things being sold at the market was just phenomenal. There was one stand serving the most flavourful coffee I have ever smelt and you could pull up a stool and have a drink just there on the street, a tradition much loved in many places all over the world but something we just don’t seem to do.
Another stall was trading breadcrumb inspired incense in a little pot ‘to help you find your way home’ in return for stories about how people have found their way to Brixton over the years. Another had rolled out a beautiful wooden floor so their stall became a walk in fashion boutique and just opposite us was Auntie Aviator selling vintage specs. The smells and sights, food and hustle and bustle of people made the street come alive in a way only a market can.
I have become very fond of markets and proud to call myself a market person (among other things!). I wouldn’t say we are experts by any means and I certainly haven’t spent 40 years on the markets like some people we’ve met, but I think the summer has given us an insight into a world that we really didn’t expect to become a part of.
It has been an eye opening and educational journey. We have learnt so much about how to communicate with people, how to create a space that can just ‘pop up’ in half an hour but can make an impression that lasts for much longer and how to fight your corner (literally sometimes) in a competitive metropolis of people trying to make a living by selling what they make.
We have taken Bluebird to food markets, river festivals, vintage markets, gift markets, national music festivals, local village fetes, food festivals, fine food fairs, charity festivals, regular markets and one off special events. Even the pop up shop was a market of sorts. A temporary space that becomes a platform for your message just for a matter of hours.
Our original intention was to spend the summer attending all sorts of events and taking up every opportunity that came our way, which we have done. At every place we went we get chatting to cool people with their own contacts, stories and projects that wanted us to be a part of that too. We were meant to be figuring out if our longer term plans are feasible, whether people get what we are doing and more importantly whether they are willing to part with their hard earned pennies. The answer is a resounding yes.
But interestingly we have also found out some things about Bluebird and ourselves that we didn’t expect. We found that the fluid and temporary concept of just ‘popping up’ and bringing our experience to people wherever they may be has worked really well for us. This was perhaps natural considering how our business was born.
I think ‘popping up’ whether at festivals, markets or pop up shops, the concept is slowly becoming a more popular way of approaching business and people. We had always seen shop premises as the ultimate aim but with rents high and business slow on the high street it may be that a more flexible way of bringing Bluebird to people is in order. We shall see.
Perhaps the most exciting thing for us was that once again at Brixton we found that people were just as excited about Bluebird as we are. Our market research seems to be telling us that we are following the right trail of breadcrumbs.
Have a Bluebird day!