It’s been a busy school holiday, and the first week of this one saw me duck out of my home in Taita with an eight-year-old editorial assistant in tow.
‘Mom, where are we going?
‘Mom, what will I do?’ (Yes, he is Can-Kiwi-Americano, so he calls me ‘Mom’.)
I wasn’t really prepared for how my son could keep himself occupied as I chatted with Cat Drayer, creator, market extraordinaire and really neat woman.
I was happy though in hindsight when I didn’t make a fuss about answering ‘what he would do’, as I noticed him sitting on the edge of the bench first devouring a dark chocolate brownie with yogurt and then throwing his hat in the air while he happily people-watched the bustle, the families, the professionals, all the happy Petone people popping in-and-out of Caffeind on Jackson Street.
As we entered the café I was happy to see Cat sitting right by the entrance. I wasn’t sure how I would find her in the sea of all these people. It would have been blissful to talk to anyone of them though – they all seemed to be having riding the wave of having an amazing day.
Meet: Cat Drayer
Born in Iran, grew up in Switzerland, moved back to New Zealand, moved to Belgium, then moved back to New Zealand – all by the time she was fourteen.
Although she’s an IT Business Analyst by white-collared profession, Cat has been elbow-deep making items in the market business for over 10 years now. Creating artistic items, such as beaded jewellery and now glass cabochons and tile pieces, where she designs and sells her own drawings into glass, and has them custom-printed as fabric, sold as fat quarters and as finished fabric crafts.
‘I draw all my own designs, shrink the designs to different sizes, and seal them into the back of the glass tiles and cabochons. I also have the designs custom printed on fabric. For me, it’s essential that you’re part of every step of your artistic process.’
She also organises and runs markets (Petone Winter Market, you know that one), builds stall displays and coaches people on successful stall layouts, consults with people on how to create and run their own stalls, and is now building maybe one of the coolest market-ideas I’ve heard since Craft 2.0: Wrought – I also think she’s building a pretty creative, inspiring, delightful empire in the Hutt.
‘The concept for Wrought was built on a decades-worth of stall holding at craft markets throughout New Zealand, from local school galas to air shows and major local events. I learnt some great lessons from other markets, and a stand-out influence was Craft 2.0. You knew that you had made it when you were part of this market.’
‘There was this wonderful following of educated customers and supporters who were a part of Craft 2.0 – they understood the importance and value of handmade, locally-crafted items, and they supported the market in the same way as a patron supports an artist.’
But she’s adamant that she’s not mirroring Craft 2.0.
‘I don’t want to cut and paste what Craft 2.0 did. I want to do something that works in the world we’re in now. I want people to understand how much work is involved in crafting the items that our makers bring to Wrought.’
Part of differentiating Wrought from Craft 2.0 is Cat is making this market interactive, by offering workshops next to stalls. It’s a neat idea and will get people more involved in seeing the high amount of detail involved in making these crafty high-quality items.
‘Some of my makers are going to offer stall-side workshops, where you have the stall and the finished items, and next to that is the workshop. It’s these sorts of opportunities that help people experience the products in context.
‘So, you can buy the finished products, but you can also sit with the makers to learn to make a basic version of their product, and you can see the work that’s involved in crafting the items.’
And at Wrought’s very first market in October, you can expect to see some of these cool, interactive stall-side workshops run by Aquatic Plants, Gift Hutt, Copper Catkin, and Adi from Martygirl.
‘One of the fantastic workshops we have is through Jess from Aquatic Plants. You may have seen the terrarium globes that have different plants in them? That’s one of the things she’s going to teach people to do. It’s a difficult, complicated art but at the basic level, it’s so accessible that anyone can understand the basics.’
‘We’ve also got Gift Hutt, a craft supply and gift shop in Lower Hutt. They offer regular workshops at their store, where people can learn to make a variety of papercrafts. They’ll be part of the side-by-side workshop and stall too.
‘And we’ve also got Adi from Martygirl skinfood, who will be giving pampering sessions using her gold-award-nominated products..’
‘We’re excited to announce that Games Workshop Lower Hutt will also be on board for Wrought October, offering a have a go style painting workshop so people can dip their toe in and try out a new hobby.’
Copper Catkin will have two workshops available on the day – an all-ages colouring table, and a stall-side workshop making colourable triskele balls. Both workshops are a gold-coin donation.
The other thing Cat wants to echo the atmosphere you get in European markets at Wrought events.
‘I grew up in Europe. I’d like to get some of that carnivalesque sense. The real festival feeling. It’s amazing and such a different vibe. You just have to buy something as a souvenir because it’s such an amazing experience – that’s the type of feeling I want people to get.
‘I want them to want to remember the market. I want them to know that when they buy a feature piece for their home from someone from Wrought, that the person made the item with love. That’s a big deal.’
To market, to market
Wrought was more the ‘egg than the chicken’ when it comes to saying what happened first in the natural order of things though. In this same natural order, the success of the Petone Winter Markets confirmed that Cat was on the right track to launch Wrought. And even though the Petone Winter Markets launched first, Wrought is really the keeper,
‘I launched Petone Winter Markets as part of my consulting brand under Copper Catkin in July this year. The original aim of this series of three markets was to give my consulting clients a go at a market and to make improvements to their stall displays over the three events.
‘Through my mini-makeover series and the related Facebook group, my consulting clients and I discussed what would help – and many people, both beginners, and more experienced stallholders reported a marked improvement in customer engagement after we worked together. In fact, one of the stallholders (@Shopnikkis) became one of the well-deserved crowd favourites at Petone Winter Markets.
‘I started the Petone Winter Markets to give my consulting clients a forum in which they could practice and improve on their stall displays.That was the original driver behind it. And when I mentioned it to the stallholder community, so many people were interested because in the Hutt in winter there’s a gap in the market scene, particularly in Petone. So, I said, ‘Alright, I’ll do that’.’
Cat had been planning to launch an overall market brand for the Wellington region for some time, so Petone Winter Markets was the trial run – and its success confirmed there was a need for a curated craft market presence in the Hutt Valley. And Wrought is the one to rule them all when it comes to Cat’s business empire.
- Because you’re supporting local artists and makers, who crafted their pieces with love – the artists are carefully curated and considered when the event is organised.
- Because you get to experience what the artists make through the interactive, stall-side workshops, which will grow as the market does.
- Because you’re supporting local makers and helping reinvigorate the Hutt Valley in an ethical way – Wrought has a plastic-bag-free, sustainability-focused, locally-made ethos.
Upcoming Wrought market dates
- Copper Catkin: Designs and crafty creations, markets, and market-stall consulting.
- Copper Catkin Consulting: Be mentored by Cat (Copper Catkin) to build your own market-brand.
- Wrought: The event to rule them all – will run all-year round. A new breed of makers’ market featuring local crafters and makers, performers, workshops, demonstrations, activities and amazing food. (See you there, right?)
- Petone Winter Market Where you can buy amazing items in a cheerful, plastic-bag-free, community-focussed craft environment.