After announcing my stockist shake up earlier in the year I have more news. I have a new stockist! The announcement comes following my goal to shake up my stockists. This was part of my New Years resolutions that I like to set each year for my business. It follows me choosing to leave some stockists and some stockists closing down.
Part of my aim was to increase wholesale orders and reduce my outgoings towards renting shop space. However, it’s not a hard and fast rule, it just has to be for the right stockist!
The Fox Fairy, Afflex Palace
I first heard about the Fox Fairy after meeting the proprietor at the Manchester Print Fair. Elizabeth is a talented Lino cutter and we have a mural appreciation for each others work. She mentioned that she had a shop in Afflex palace which immediately pricked up my ears. This was in May 2019 and at that time the shop was full for new stockists.
Fast forward to the start of 2020 and with a space finally in store Elizabeth reached out to me. She asked if I was still interested in the store. Of course I was! I was sold and dropped in my stock at the beginning of February.
I had lost my only Manchester stockist towards the end of 2019 due to store closure. The Fox Fairy is based on the top floor of Afflex palace. I LIVED in Afflex Palace as a teenager. Well, as much as a teenager from Blackpool can afford the train fare to do so. There are shops that haven’t changed at all there since that time. It’s a haven of alternative independent shopping and rich in nostalgia for me. It’s also my number one go to for ice cream whenever I am in the city. Ginger’s Comfort Emporium’s “French Elvis” is a religious experience! There’s costumes, clothes, jewellery, art, posters, beads, games, figures; all sorts. A Mecca for the motley. A shopping centre for the strange. To have my work there is an absolute dream. I have moments often as an artist where I’d like to visit my child self and tell them about my life now. This was a point where I wanted to visit teenage Sian and tell her the good news.
Next time you are in Manchester,please visit! Say hello to lovely Elizabeth from me and check out my supersized display in store 🙂
I am on fire with new stockists at the moment. I started the year with none and by early July I had six stockists in five cities. Shop Small MCR is the fifth one I am introducing in this blog. Maths whizzes will work out that this means another one is on the way, but that’s another story for another time.
On the sixth day, God created Man(Chester)
I am super pleased, as a start, to have a Manchester stockist. Manchester is one of my favourite art cities. It’s the cultural mecca of my youth. Growing up in Blackpool there wasn’t a big selection of art and fashion. I’d take the train to the hustle and bustle of the city. Grab some new kit and visit a gallery. To this day it remains a hub of internationally reknowned cultural celebration. Heck, even on the day of setting up my stock I visited a surreal David Lynch exhibition and a ceramic exhibition by the talented Alex Sickling too. Of course, I also went shopping, and picked up a wicked ceramic treat from a lucky dip Gachabon machine in Magma and got some Fernandez Makes goodies from Swalk in Afflex Palace too.
So..erm…weren’t you talking about stockists?
YES! Yes I was. Shop Small MCR does not have a role in my nostalgia driven memories of Manchester because it brand spanking new! Open just 3 weeks when I dropped off my stock. It’s not just Shop Small MCR neither. The shop is located in a brand new shiny box park that has sprung up on Oxford Road. In student central July might be an awkward time to set up shop there but it’s a chance I’m taking and s punt I’m playing.
The box park is called Hatch and is following a trend for shipping container housed indie businesses in metropolitan cities across the UK. It might not even be just the U.K. I can picture this kind of thing in somewhere like Melbourne. All I know is that I’ve seen couple in a London, one in a Newcastle and one is being built in Sheffield as we speak. Hatch is a sprawling shanty town of cool under the bridge near Man Met Uni. There are still some units to let, but it’s already brimming with art, bars, food and craft ales. The empty units are just exciting potential currently and they’ll no doubt be snapped up soon.
Before even dropping off any stock I’d perused a small ceramics shop, and had a beer and some fresh and tasty Vietnamese food on a Pinterest-porn converted double decker bus. It’s the sort of place you can idle away a day without realising. Shop Small MCR does exactly what it says on the tin. A unit celebrating local(ish) makers and each maker with their own dedicated space. I am excited to be part of the beginning of something as cool as Hatch and I hope I can celebrate success with Shoo Small MCR along the way.
At the end of January I took This Is Sian Ellis on the road to Manchester. I held a trader stall at Craft and Flea at the beautiful Manchester Cathedral. This was the Craft and Flea’s first Manchester event, and the first time I’ve taken my prints out of Sheffield. I am committed to growing my business this year and awareness in other cities is crucial to that. Nonetheless I was certainly nervous to be doing it.
I’ve released so many prints based on places, particularly in Sheffield, doing a fair somewhere else needs something different. I’m really proud of my Sheffield prints and have always tended to chose places a bit more alternative that I feel drawn to to be featured in my work. However, this inevitably means that people are drawn to the prints because they are drawn to the places. I don’t have any Manchester themed prints (although having spent so much time though over the years I definitely have a couple of places in mind to do) so instantly I worried about my stock levels. Luckily though I have lots more prints and products than I thought I did!
That can’t be all that makes you nervous?
It wasn’t! After you take my location themed prints away then you are left with all the stuff that comes purely from my imagination. It means that I feel a lot more naked on my stall than usual. I am sharing work with people they don’t already have a reason to admire as they might with a print of a loved location. It’s not instantly recognisable and many visitors to the fair won’t have seen my work before. We’ve all heard about imposter theory, and creating things purely out of my own mind and the sharing them in a new city with new people definitely gave it to me to the nth degree.
So how did it go?
Drumroll please……… it was excellent! The nerves I brought with me meant a huge sense of accomplishment when the day ended. I had done well on sales and event been approached about some commissions. My Instagram followers soared by about 40 people in one day! My business card were almost totally cleaned out and I got a tonne of new Etsy favourites too. I sold out of my ‘Ll’amour’ valentines cards and my skeptics ghost patch which are both new products. I have definitely gained some confidence towards out of town fairs through this experience, and just need to dbe code where to next!
For up to date info on my upcoming events follow my Instagram account
My first fair outside of Sheffield and I will be bringing some brand new patches and prints as well as some ceramic goodies too.