FEATURE: Capstan’s Bazaar

Last Sunday was the third Capstan’s Bazaar at the new Baltic Market. Independent Liverpool have naturally been behind everything and help get the whole thing up and running, but the driving force is the independent retailers, makers, craftspeople and (in the case of the market) chefs.

The independent spirit of these markets is unmissable and an absolute must in the run up to Christmas.

We caught up with Laura-Kate Chapman, one of the founders of Capstan’s Bazaar, the monthly makers market at Baltic Market, to find out what got the ball rolling, and why they’ve up-scaled so much to this new venue:

When did you start doing Capstan’s Bazaar? What triggered it?

It was way back in 2010. I’d been doing quite a lot of art markets around Liverpool as a stall holder – some great, some not so great. Then two ladies who ran one of the really great regular markets decided to take a break from running them. I remember thinking what a shame it would be to lose one of the best markets that Liverpool had to offer at the time, so I asked if they’d mind if I carried on where they left off and they agreed. It wasn’t really planned – I just felt at the time that with so many great artist makers in and around Liverpool that there needed to be as many good quality selling platforms as possible. I think it helped that I was also a trader so I understood what was important from that point of view. My partner Rich was working on a marketing and flyer distribution company at the time – and had worked on numerous events in the past – so it just made sense.

Why’s it been brought back to Baltic Market? What’s the attraction there, and hows it different to the regular market?

We actually started out on a very small scale at LEAF on Bold Street with around 14 stalls, then eventually grew to around 60 stalls at our larger events in HAUS (now the  Constellations venue). Since then we’ve organised both small and large events, but found it difficult to find a permanent home that gave us the footfall and space that we were looking for. This led us to take a bit of a break from regular markets – in all honesty I had stopped enjoying it and wanted to concentrate on my own illustration work.

When the Baltic Market opportunity came along it was around the time of Celebrating Bold Street which we were asked to book stalls for – we’d been doing a few pop up events and really enjoyed working on those. I guess we were ready for a new regular home and after seeing the warehouse and chatting to the Independent Liverpool guys it just felt right. I love the Baltic and I have a print studio round the corner at Constellations, so doing something in the area excites me. The markets are small – only 20 stalls – which is more manageable with my other illustration and screen printing businesses. More importantly, the venue and audience is right for a lot of our traders wares – which has always been at  the fore front of our decisions on whether to go ahead with market opportunities. If it isn’t going to work for our traders then there’s no point. We want to create an event that offers a quality and enjoyable selling platform to showcase the array of incredible traders on our mailing list.

What can I find? 

As usual, we have a whole host of amazing traders! There’s been so much interest in our events at Baltic Market, it’s been incredibly hard to pick the traders for each event, but has meant that each month you visit us, you’ll find a completely different range of goods to lighten your pocket.

We try and have a real mix of stalls – from art prints to ceramics, records to jewellery, cards to clothes. We tend to host more illustration/print makers than anything else, mostly because we have such a huge amount of applications from this sector than any other. I guess with my background being in illustration, I am drawn to this sort of work too!

This month we have an amazing maker called Sonray Clay, whose ceramic characters are just incredible. Another fairly new trader for us whose illustrated products have so much personality is Jaqueline Fryers. We’ll be welcoming back HAndmade by Bunny Bosworth and Vespertine Cosmos and their beautiful ranges of jewelley, as well as saying hello for the first time to Harl & Quinn, Glow Hush and Laura Knight. We’ll also have Becka Griffin – a fantastic illustrator and one of the traders from our very early days at LEAF who we’ve recently coaxed back to our craft fairs… You’ll really have to come down yourself and have a look, there’s too much to list here…

Are there regular exhibitors that have stayed with you for the last few years? What is it that keeps them selling with Capstan’s Bazaar? 

We do have lots of traders that are still with us from the days at LEAF and HAUS, which is just fantastic. Hopefully it’s a sign that we are doing something right. Some of our traders have also become friends over the years – there’s a really strong community of artist/makers in the region, particularly through networks such as the Etsy Merseyside Group and the Print Social. As for what keeps them selling with us, I don’t know if that’s a question for me! I hope it’s because we are creating affordable and quality opportunities to showcase their work, that is both enjoyable and profitable for them. We believe strongly in marketing all of our events to the best of our ability and budget, and

After this Sunday, when are you back? Is this market going to see us through 2018?

We have just finished booking in traders for a host of festive events including some late night Thursday shopping – which is something I’ve wanted to do for ages! Our further Sunday dates for 2017 are November 5th and December 3rd, and our late night Thursdays start from 4pm on November 23rd, and December 7h and 14th.

As for 2018, who knows? We love the Baltic Market events so will hopefully be continuing these. We still love the idea of doing some bigger events but finding a venue big enough and affordable enough that we can balance with our other projects isn’t easy. You’ll just have to watch this space!