An experiment and an experience
Kate at the booth before set up
A postcard from our first artisan market
We were recently at La Mercantil del Diseño, a local artisan market in the coastal town of Sitges, Spain. In a breezy cabana steps from the beach, our booth was along the promenade at the beautiful ME Terramar hotel. As an online brand and selling from behind a screen, this market was a special chance to meet customers in person and see how people interact with my designs. From a business perspective, I wanted to learn more about how people shop, what they look for and if artisan markets are something for me to pursue in the future.
Our new sporty bra top style debuted at the market
Preparations & Planning
Since this was my first market, I wasn’t sure what to expect - I hopped a plane from Düsseldorf to Barcelona with very heavy luggage, masks and sanitizer, and happy anxiety for the event to come. Preparation involved logistical aspects, such as booth design, packaging, payment systems, but importantly, what products to design and the customer experience.
Preparing in Germany for my flight
I traveled a week early to meet with our partner atelier to finalize the details on my kaftan and kimono-inspired jackets. Hafiz, who is fantastic, sews my jacket designs with his team in Barcelona. Since each fabric is unique, we work closely together so that design elements are highlighted in each silhouette. For example, should the hand-painted floral design be on the back of the jacket or can we place it on the front? Is this design better seen in a long kaftan style or a short jacket?
Beyond finalizing the designs, I thought a lot about the customer experience. This idea of Storytelling through fashion is The Ovid Collective’s mission, but that’s challenging to convey in a market when people pass through casually and conversations aren’t had with everyone.
Sporty bra tops and Sari fabric robes - a unique style!
Storytelling in Person
My creative process is a dialogue and exchange - learning about the source culture from where I purchase my fabrics, balancing this with my design vision and the commercial side, and thinking about how fashion and personal style can enable new experiences for the customer - We all know that feeling of wearing something we love and how that adds an extra spark to our step. My hope is that my designs convey a celebration of expression, make people feel special when they wear them and that this feeling leads to them new create experiences. Since this is often done in the digital sphere, my challenge was how to create a similar experience in person.
Illustrated price list
To convey this storytelling, it was about how to display the pieces in styling and the background of each piece, from the textile origins and my designs. It was also having conversations with people who were interested to know more. I can be a bit shy in these circumstances because I never want my shopping experience to seem transactional, so approaching passersby was a challenge. However, people were genuine and interested in my work so that made it much easier to connect.
Shot of the booth <3
Silent Characters in our personal story
It’s often said in this industry that when you see someone who is excited about a new piece they just bought, it's a special feeling - this is true. For me, yes, it’s about the design, but it’s more about what they will do with the design - how they will wear it, when and where and what experiences that will lead to. To be a part of this feeling in another person’s life is quite powerful - How many pivotal events do we have in our lives and how often do we remember what we were wearing? A time when you felt confident, a time when you felt like your best self, when you laughed so much or had a night that you remember years later, or when you traveled somewhere, met someone important in your life. I can remember what outfits I wore during these times and how those piece made me feel - a dress I felt confident in, a sweater that brings back good memories, a kaftan robe I brought on that beach trip with friends.
Clothing and style have power and hold endless memories and possibilities - they are the silent characters in our personal story… but anyway, I digress…
A moment to pause & reflect
In between the busy moments, the space let me see how this market was a surreal experience - it was the first time I got to see all my designs hanging in a booth together - a mix of different colors, elements, and textiles in a kaleidoscope of styles. I could feel what I wanted to express through clothing and design - a sense of possibility, discovery and connection with others.
As an entrepreneur, I’m so often thinking of the endless to-do list and the future, I don’t sit still for a moment to appreciate how far I’ve come and what I’ve accomplished. Yet, when I was surrounded by everything in my booth, I couldn’t help but be confronted by my work and that forced me take a moment to actually sit in that moment and tell myself, “You’ve done a good job, Kate.” Sometimes the good things need to be shoved in your face so you can see them.
A kaleidoscope of styles, patterns, and colors
One of the funnier moments is when someone asked me a question in Catalan and I responded in German. Why? Well, this is how I understood my subconscious thought process: I can understand a bit of Catalan, but can’t speak it. I’m not sure about you, but sometimes my mind registers another language as something “foreign” and the first response is, saying something that’s “foreign” to you. German is more foreign to me than Spanish, which is now my second language, so my mind thought, “Ok, that’s a foreign word, I’ll answer in a foreign word.” After a moment of confusion and a smile, we switched from Catalan and German to Castillano. (*In Spain, Spanish language is referred to “Castillano” instead of “Spanish” to reflect that there are multiple languages spoken in Spain, including Basque, Gallician, and Catalan amongst others.)
Our new sporty bra top styles
Overall the market was a success. It landed on a holiday weekend, Sant Joan, also known as “Nit del Foc” or the Night of Fire, which is celebrated with fireworks and light on the shortest night of the year. Admittedly, it’s not my favorite holiday because it’s hard to walk through the streets and dodge all the fireworks and alarming pops going off everywhere you step and I’m averse to being surprised by loud noises and amateur fireworks :) But there is a certain air of excitement that is fun. You can learn more about it here: Barcelona Tourist
Because of the holiday, many people were out of town so market attendance was not as high as I expected. But that doesn’t take away from the brand achievements, the chance to meet cool new people, or seeing the joy of people who came away with new Ovid styles. I got inspired with tons of ideas to integrate into styles going forward and more energy to keep it up.
Our favorite style of the show
Another stop along the journey of being an entrepreneur and learning as much about myself and I am about business and strategy, this experience was no exception. Each day, I’m thinking about the day-to-day running of my company, and also the mid- and long term strategy - what makes sense to test, what phase is this company in and what are my strengths and weaknesses as the owner. I wanted to test the artisan market space to see if this was something for me to pursue going forward - Barcelona has amazing events like this one. In the future, I’ll be sure to check the dates to ensure better traffic and the location so I can have my product mix to reflect what people are shopping for.
The biggest take away for me was about why I do what I do and my original mission with my brand. With the pandemic and challenges abound, it's easy to forget the bigger, important reasons behind our actions. The most important part of the market was the validation I received both for myself and my brand's mission. Through this, I renewed my sense of purpose and got a deeper connection with my customers so that I can continue to refine my work. Being a solo-prenuer can be isolating, draining, and challenging, but these moments make it all worth it. I hope to see you along the way.