We woke on Sunday morning to find Oxford under a blanket of thick snow that threatened to ruin this year’s Harcourt Christmas Market (organised by Chalky Chic). The Harcourt Market is a community event featuring the work of a very talented bunch of locals including artists, upcyclers, silversmiths, a ceramicist and a culinary genius.
Chalky Chic runs this local market 4 times a year and it is always great fun, bringing the local community together and hosted in the Harcourt Arms public house in Jericho, Oxford.
Whilst a couple of stall holders from further afield couldn’t risk the short drive to the pub, those within walking distance rallied round and helped each other out collecting their wares. The heavy snowfall forced us indoors but the publican generously made space for us and we set up in one half of the bar. Despite the atrocious weather, plenty of brave punters donned their wellies to visit the market and it was a convivial afternoon of shopping and socialising over a Christmas drink.
Many thanks to everyone who came along, especially our lovely bunch of locals who made the event such fun.
Annie Sloan – the Queen of chalk paint – started her business from a small shop in Oxford over 25 years ago. Since these humble beginnings the Annie Sloan empire now boasts stockists worldwide from Singapore to Calgary, Helsinki to Cape Town.
As Chalky Chic is based in Oxford, I couldn’t resist going along to the launch of Annie’s latest book Annie Sloan Paints Everything which took place in her tiny shop on Oxford’s Cowley Road last night (27 October 2016).
As an added bonus, Anna and Rosie from Independent Oxford were there hosting one of their regular Indie Oxford Meet Ups. I’ve been interested in joining this group for some time so it was a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone!
The shop was packed to the rafters. Staff were on hand passing around canapés and flutes of Prosecco as well as answering questions, particularly about Annie’s three new wonderful colours Giverney, Amsterdam Green and Honfleur. Annie was very friendly and down to earth and after a few welcoming words, signed copies of the book whilst her family mingled with the crowd.
I recognised a few familiar faces from the Magdalen Flea Market and stopped to chat with Rosie and Anna who encouraged me to come along to the next Indie Oxford Meet Up and advised me on how to join the Independent Oxford Directory of Businesses and Makers. All in all, it was a pleasant and informal evening and although networking doesn’t come naturally to me, I’m glad I went along.
Last week I drove the 80 miles to Leicester to pitch to Not On The High Street. It was an interesting although sadly unsuccessful experience. The event was held at St Martin’s House, a converted grammar school in the heart of the city.
Attendees were each given a 10-minute slot to pitch their product or idea to a team of experienced Not On The High Street staff and the crowded waiting area was mainly full of bright young things each hoping that their creation was going to wow the buyers and secure them a space in this highly successful marketplace.
Although I love what I do and believe in my product 100%, I wasn’t overly confident that it is right for Not On The High Street and so went along with few expectations under the premise that it would be good experience and useful to get some professional feedback on my upcycling business. The experts liked my product too but advised that I needed to be able to offer the same item in a range of colours and perhaps with an option for customers to provide their own fabric for upholstery.
Occasionally I will have a limited edition of the same item such as my upholstered benches or lime-washed crates, but on the whole each item is unique and upcycled to make the most of its features.
That is the beauty of a piece from Chalky Chic – it is a world away from mass produced, catalogue or flat-packed furniture.