Pop-up shop at White Conduit Projects

chapel market  chapel market

chapel market

The vibrant Chapel market


Gentrification in many parts of London has turned the city a soulless place dominated by chains and corporate companies. When I was a student a long time ago, my cousin and I hired a stall selling vintage fashion at the Camden Stables market, and it had a very different vibe back then. Both Camden and Portobello markets used to sell an eclectic mix of genuine vintage and independent fashion, accessories and furniture. These days, the two markets have become tourist traps; and even food markets like Borough and Broadway have become victims of their own successes.

Luckily, there are still some traditional and authentic markets that cater to locals like Ridley Road (Dalston), Whitecross Street food market, Walthamstow Market, and Chapel Market.

One of the reasons we chose the pop-up shop location was due to the market. This is not a posh market, it is an unpretentious working class market selling food, plants and household products at very reasonable prices. Spending the four days working in the vibrant and friendly neighbourhood was wonderful, and we were spoilt for choice with the vast array of eateries around us.


Costumier and Furrier  Costumier and Furrier

Costumier and Furrier

Costumier and Furrier – Possibly the coolest vintage shop in London


Next to the White Conduit Projects is Costumier and Furrier, a fun vintage shop selling fashion, ceramics and knickknacks. Once inside, you feel like you are in Aladdin’s cave and you could hardly move around inside because it is so jam-packed. It is one of a kind, and a rare hidden gem in London.



pop up shop party  pop up shop party


Our opening night party


On the opening day of our pop up shop, the temperature dropped dramatically and it even snowed a little around midday. Thankfully, our friends braved the cold in the early evening and came to support us nonetheless.

Over the four days, we had many passerby dropping in including locals and tourists. Sunday was the busiest day partly because of the farmers market, and partly due to shoppers buying Christmas trees at the stall opposite the gallery. Situated opposite the Christmas tree stall helped us immensely, as many tree shoppers spotted us while they were making their purchases.



pop up shop  pop up shop



baby girl  pop up shop


Overall, we did quite well with the sales and met many locals who were very supportive – including the little 10-month old baby girl who felt very at home at the gallery. Although we were exhausted by the event, the experience was a positive one and we probably will do it again in the future.


4-day X’mas pop-up shop in Angel



We will be popping up with our Japanese partner Di Classe for 4 days next week from 30th November until 3rd Dec in Angel just off Chapel Market. This is the first pop-up shop that we organised and we are very excited!

The idea of doing a joint Christmas pop up shop came to us last year, but it somehow didn’t happen. This year, we started looking quite late in October and thought it was too late after being told that several venues we were interested in were booked up already. Yet with a bit of luck, we managed to find an art gallery space White Conduit Projects available during our requested weekend; and it was only then I found out that the gallery owner is Japanese (an interesting coincidence).


pop up shop

pop up shop


We did not do a pop up shop earlier because it is riskier, more expensive and it involves more work. Yet after a few rather disappointing Christmas fairs with different organisers, we decided that it’s time to take the matters into our own hands. Perhaps it is the right timing.

Instead of cramming most of our products onto one table, we will have more space to display more products this time. We will also be showcasing books, magazines and zines for the first time. Meanwhile, Di Classe will be selling their lighting and home accessories that are normally only available through retail shops like the Conran shop.


pop up shop


Please drop by to say ‘hello’ if you are in the area. We look forward to seeing you next week!


London Christmas fairs 2016

stock  christmas leaflet

Left: Selecting products for the Christmas fairs; Right: New postcards with info of the Christmas fairs


Since our e-shop first started 5 years ago (I can’t believe it has been 5 years already!), we have participated in different pop-up Christmas fairs around London. They serve as our opportunity to meet customers/ potential customers face to face. Since it is becoming more competitive these days, some popular/reputable Christmas fairs may require sellers to apply before summer! It is advisable to do research as early as possible and start preparing/applying around summer because usually by October, many major fairs would be booked up.

I had a blast at the Barbican Christmas fair last year, however, they decided not to do it this year, hence I had to look elsewhere in central London. Finally, I opted for two smaller fairs over the first two weekends of December. It is exhausting and stressful to manage online sales and do Christmas fairs at the same time, so I try not to overwork this year.


candid arts gallery  angel christmas fair 16

angel christmas fair 16

angel christmas fair 16

angel christmas fair 16

Top left: Candid arts gallery; Top right and the rest: our stall at the Angel Chrismas fair


I picked Candid Arts Trust‘s long-running Angel Christmas fair because my shared studio/office is based there. I moved in last year and have been told that the fair is a popular one with the locals. The trust’s gallery hosts art/design exhibitions all year round, and it offers affordable studios for artists/designers/makers in an affluent area of London.

At the 2 1/2 day fair, all the sellers were placed on the ground floor, while upstairs was turned into an art gallery and bar. I was told that the fair this year was quieter than the previous years, but as always, it is hard to predict the footfall or sales at these fairs. Though one thing I love about doing fairs is the opportunity to meet and make friends with fellow designers/makers/business owners. At the Angel Christmas fair, I met Winnie from Minute & Azimut, a new stylish watch brand that was launched via a Kickstarter campaign. Winnie, who is originally from Paris, is the designer and owner of this new brand. And a week later, I was invited by her to the opening evening of her pop-up shop near Bond Street, which turned out to be a cosy and enjoyable event.


angel christmas fair 16

minute & azimut  img_9045-min

madeleine marsh

Top: The upstairs art gallery; 2nd left: Winnie from Minute & Azimut; 2nd right: the friendly Ecuadorian ladies selling tagua nut jewellery and handmade scarvies; Bottom: The wonderful scupltures made by my artistic and eccentric stall neighbour Madeleine Marsh


The week after, I did the 1-day ethical Fair Christmas Fayre organised by The Salvation Army. The fair took place at Regent Hall inside their headquarters on Oxford Street. I had no idea that the organisation owns a massive buildling on Oxford Street, and was somewhat surprised to see such a big hall behind an inconspicuous entrance.

The ethical crafty fair has been running for 10 years and I only heard about it last year. Since we sell many eco-friendly and upcycling products, I thought it would be apt to do a fair that showcases these products. I was impressed by the fair organisation and helpful team members/volunteers. I also enjoyed selling inside a spacious and warm venue, which partly explains why I never do any outdoor/semi-outdoor Christmas markets!


regent hall salvation army  Fair Christmas Fayre 16

Fair Christmas Fayre 16

Fair Christmas Fayre 16

Fair Christmas Fayre at Regent Hall on Oxford Street


Unfortunately, the footfall on the day was rather disappointing, and it could be due to the heavy rain on the day. Although Oxford Street is probably the busiest street in London/UK, shoppers usually have their targets on certain shops and so it is never easy to sway them to visit an ethical fair on a not-so-ethical shopping street (this is solely my opinion).

The lower-than-usual footfall at both Christmas fairs this year could be down to an increase of local Christmas fairs and online shopping. Our online sales plummeted after Brexit and it stayed that way until the end of October. Then suddenly, sales surged in November and December, and they ended up being our best months yet! Online sales peaked over the Black Friday weekend and the second week of December, which took me somewhat by surprise after months of stagnant sales. I believe that more UK shoppers were doing their Chirstmas shopping online this year, hence this has given me the confidence that online shopping will continue to grow in the future.




Top: Chau at the Islington Christmas Market; Bottom: our lasercut coasters from Japan


At Fair Christmas Fayre, I became friends with my neighbour, Chau, a young and talented Vietnamese illustrator/designer/owner of Chau art. Chau designs all her greeting cards; she cuts them out by hand initially, and then have them lasercut locally. Chau spotted our Japanese lasercut coasters at the fair, and she thought their styles are similar to hers, so she suggested selling them for me at her upcoming Christmas markets. It was a very kind gesture, and I was more than happy for her to do it. I went to visit her at two of her Christmas fairs the following week, and we spent some time chatting about business and life in general.

Over the last few years, I have made new friends at different Christmas fairs, and although I have not kept in touch with everyone, most of us would support each other via social media like instagram/twitter. It is not easy to run a small business these days, and I think sharing business tips or the difficulties we encounter with each other is immensely helpful.

Christmas fairs are not merely about selling, it is also about supporting, sharing and building friendships. And this is also why we will continue to do them in the future.



Christmas markets 2015

barbican   barbican christmas market

Three weekends of Christmas market at the Barbican Centre


I admit that I am not a natural salesperson. I have always worked behind the scenes, and selling face to face is a ‘skill’ that I had to learn when I started this business.

I know that popping up once a year is not enough for a small business, but I am not sure if I can cope with doing several pop ups all year round. Having gained some market experiences in the previous years, I decided to apply for two Christmas markets this year and I was lucky to be accepted by both.

Six market days over three weekends may not sound like a lot to other vendors, but doing it solo with no car nor assistant, it was not an easy task for me. Despite feeling exhausted during and after the markets, the experience had been extremely positive and beneficial, and it made me realise that offline shopping is still important for businesses that sell physical products.


barbican christmas market

barbican christmas market

barbican christmas market


Aside from the rather dim concrete foyer, I thoroughly enjoyed selling at the Barbican. I found the staff very friendly (offering few of us free wine and food in the evening), and I loved selling among other like-minded designers, artisans and traders. Not only did we look out for each other at the market, we also bought from each other as a way of supporting independent businesses.


barbican christmas market

barbican christmas market  IMG_1892-compressed

barbican christmas market

Our jam-packed table is a far cry from our ‘minimalist’ website


Selling face to face enables me to see how customers react towards our products and provides an opportunity for me to talk to them directly. At the end of the day, the activity is about human interactions, and it is a skill that requires observation, patience and consistency. Am I able to convey my passion and enthusiasm to potential customers during our brief conversations? Probably not all the time, but I try my best without being pushy or aggressive. It turns out that practice does make a difference, and I believe that my communication and selling skills improved as the days went by.


imagination illustrated

kelci jun 

molly and the wolf

caliz london imagination illustrated growth rings

kelci jun  we make here

Top: My lovely neighbour Nina from Imagination illustrated; 4th middle: Nina’s beautiful illustrated Sagittarian notebook (my birthday present from her); 2nd row: Korean illustrator Kelci Jun; Bottom left: Kelci’s illustrations of bridges in London; 3rd row: Molly from Molly and the wolf; 4th left: Another wonderful neighbour Martha from Caliz London; 4th right: Chopping board from Growth rings; Bottom right: lino printed stationery from We make here


It is a shame that most of the independent designers and artisans I spoke to do not have retail outlets, and we can only sell our products online or via Christmas or crafts or design markets in London. London’s streets have become more homogeneous in recent years, with high streets being dominated by chained stores backed by big corporations; meanwhile independent shops are being squeezed out because of unaffordable rents. Judging from the sales and customers’ enthusiasm at these markets, it is clear that Londoners are supportive of independent designers and businesses, yet having a brick and mortar store in London is a far-fetched dream for most of us. Will things change anytime soon? I doubt it, so in the meantime, we all just have to find our ways to survive in a vast ocean with limited supplies and an inflatable boat!


primrose hill designer sale  IMG_1845-compressed

primrose hill designer sale  primrose hill designer sale

A popular one day annual event – Primrose Hill designer sale at St Mary’s church

Upcoming Christmas markets in London

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Our advent calendar-inspired pop-up promotional card


This December, we will pop up for three weekends in London! We are very happy to be selected as one of the vendors to be selling at the Barbican this year. I have often visited the Barbican for events and exhibitions, so I am thrilled to be selling at such an iconic venue in London.

Our other one-day pop-up will be at St Mary’s church in Primrose Hill, a smaller and more local event, but I am sure it will be fun and quite family oriented.

We will be selling among other independent designers and traders, so if you are looking for something unique, then do pay us a visit or alternatively support your local Christmas markets if you live outside of London.

We look forward to seeing you at our Christmas pop ups this year!



East London Design Show 2013

whitechapel spitalfields marketthe old truman brewery the old truman brewery

Top left & right: Christ Church and Spitalfields market; Bottom left & right: Another Christmas market and street art outside of the Old Truman Brewery.


This year was our third consecutive year to be showing at the East London Design Show, and the venue had changed from Shoreditch town hall to the hipper, bigger and much cooler ( temperature wise) Old Truman Brewery. It was freezing when we were setting up and on the first day of trading, and so on the following day, all of us were geared up with snow boots, cashmere and thermo underwear!


east london design show east london design showeast london design showeast london design showeast london design showeast london design show

Top left: entrance on Hanbury Street; top right: a more spacious venue than the Shoreditch town hall; Main and bottom: to coincide with our new ‘PLAY’ theme, our stand this year focused more on the colourful and fun aspects of the products


Although it was physically exhausting to do the 4-day show, it was also lovely to see return customers, make new designer friends and catch up with designer friends from the previous shows. I was also touched by friends who came to support throughout the four days, especially friends whom I have not seen for a long time!

Overall, the show was a success for us, the new season’s merchandise sold particularly well, and sales were higher than the last 2 years. However, we will be focusing more on trade distribution next year, and so have decided to take a break from the show next year. We may still pop up occasionally in town at other venues/ shows, so do keep an eye out for our next pop up.


poppy porter Chelache knitwearMelissa Mcarthursarah hamiltonthe knotedit juhasz ceramics sarah hamilton

Top left: Poppy Porter and her jewellery; Top right: Layla Chelache and her knitwear; Middle left: Melissa McArthur and her jewellery; middle and bottom right: Sarah Hamilton and her prints; Middle right: Keunhye Lee and her jewellery; Bottom left: Edit Juhasz ceramics


Over the four days at the show, I took snapshots of my new and ‘old’ show friends and would like to share their links here:

Poppy Porter: Poppy had a stand next to mine and so we ended up chatting a lot over the 4 days. Surprisingly, it was Formula 1 racing cars that inspired her to start her jewellery collection, and she uses a special photo-inlay technique in her creation, so all her pieces are one of a kind. I especially like her new Japanese collection inspired by British Museum’s current Shunga exhibition ( an exhibition not to be missed).

Chelache knitwear: I met Layla last year at the show and bought a lovely hand-knitted scarf from her. I have very sensitive skin and so I am very picky when it comes to knitwear, but Layla‘s knitwear certainly passed my skin test!

Melissa McArthur: Interestingly, our stand was next to two jewellers, and Melissa was one of them. Her jewellery style is delicate and versatile, and it appeared to attract many female shoppers at the show. Apparently, her jewellery is selling very well in Japan, and so she gets to travel there for work, lucky her!

Sarah Hamilton prints: Another show friend from last year, Sarah is a very warm and experienced designer who has been in business for 12 years. Her prints are nature-inspired and has a retro feel to them. This year, she has added a new mug collection, lovely!

K.N.O.T.: Young Korean designer, Keunghye Lee contacted me last year asking if I was interested in stocking her table mats. Although the deal didn’t happen, I met her for a coffee and chatted about design and business. I was glad to see her selling her new jewellery collection at the show this year, I especially like her chunky hand-knitted necklaces.

Edit Juhasz ceramics: Edit is camera-shy and so she is not featured next to her wonderful handmade ceramics. Edit’s ceramics are earthy, simple and practical, so they are great for everyday use.


paul wayne gregory wrinklewolfram lohr wolfram lohrangela fung angela fungnoodoll noodoll

Top left: Paul Wayne Gregory and his chocolates; top right: the eco-friendly Wrinkle cork products; Second row: Wolfram Lohr and his leather accessories; third row: Angela Fung and her origami-inspired jewellery; Bottom row: YiYing Wang, her assistants and her Noodoll collection


Paul Wayne Gregory: Discovering Paul‘s chocolate stand was ‘fatal’ for my waistline, but I could not resist the temptation! My favourites after the tasting were passionfruit ( sold out after the second day) and salted caramel. I bought a few packets and got some freebies from Paul too, but most importantly, I found out where to go once the supply is finished!

Wrinkle cork products: Sometimes it’s hard to find presents for those who have everything, but mobile phone/ tablet covers made from 100% natural and sustainable cork may work for gadget lovers. I love the fact that each sleeve/ cover has different patterns and colours, and their prices are reasonable too, so they are great as Christmas gifts.

Wolfram Lohr: I met Wolfram for the first time at the show 2 years ago and since then, we would ‘bump’ into each other at various shows. And every year, we would swap products at the end of the show! He is an eccentric and fun guy, but best of all, he is passionate about his work and produces high quality and durable products.

Angela Fung: Angela and I share one common passion which is origami. While I sell many origami products, she makes jewellery inspired by origami and forms. I think her square folding bracelets and rings are very cool.

Noodoll: Before my first show, I was a bit hesitant as I had just launched the business and was completely clueless about doing these shows. I decided to cold-call ( not something that I would normally do) a few designers to ask them about their show experiences. Taiwanese/ London-based designer, YiYing ( the founder and designer) was kind and patient with me, and she encouraged me to go ahead and sign up for the show. Now two years on, YiYang was weeks away from her due date and so she was not spending much time at the show this year. It is great to see an Asian designer doing so well outside of Asia, and with all her fun stuff, I am sure her child will never run out of toys or get bored!


Pop-up at Alternatives

piccadilly st james churchst james church alternatives pop up

Top left: the Eros snow globe at Piccadilly Circus; top right: the Christmas tree outside of St Jame’s church; bottom left and right: interior of the church


One aspect I love about running a business is that you never know what will happen tomorrow. Although this applies to life in general, but with business, any opportunity or unexpected event could come along, so I believe having an open mindset is essential. A few weeks ago, I received an unexpected phone call from the spirituality and personal development organisation, Alternatives asking if I was interested in doing a pop-up at one of their regular Monday evening events at St Jame’s Church in Piccadilly. It was a new trial for them as they have only sold books at their previous events, and so it took several phone calls and emails before we could finalise on it. I was told that there would be a screening of a documentary on the Dalai Lama that evening, and so it was going to be a packed out event.

Intriguingly, this was the second time that I have been approached by a spiritual/religion organisation since I started meditation a few years ago. Back in 2009, I was hired to design a booklet for the Buddhism festival that took place at the V & A and Barbican in London. Coincidence? Perhaps not. I was informed by the organisers that they particularly like our eco-friendly range of products and felt that their members and subscribers would appreciate them too. Very encouraging words indeed.


alternatives pop up


The evening’s documentary was the Road to Peace with a Q & A session with the director, Leon Stuparich. The documentary follows the Dalai Lama and goes behind the scene on his trip to the U.K. in 2008. It captures the playful and down-to-earth side of His Holiness that we rarely get to see, so it was fascinating and eye-opening at the same time.


alternatives pop up


However, most people who attended the event were there to ‘see’ the Dalai Lama and not to shop, so realistically speaking, it was not probably not the most ideal night or spot to be selling. Many people were curious in regards to my ‘odd’ presence, but I could not say that it was a fruitful evening ( in economic terms). The experience was completely new for me, not only did I have to set up everything in less than 45 mins, I had to pack up in even less time… this could be a good training if I were ever to become an illegal street vendor!

Part of the fun of running a business is that it is unpredictable and risky, and I have come to realise that every ‘mistake’ ( or setback) brings me more insight and helps me to make better decisions in the future.

Leaving the church, I consoled and told myself that at least I had an opportunity to sell inside a historical church and watched a spiritually enhanced documentary, so all is not lost… luckily, there was still the East London design show to be followed in a few days’ time…


Christmas shopping week in London

Christmas shopping


It’s the busiest time of the year for all retail or e-tailers, so it’s no exception for us! It will be a busy week ahead because we will be popping up at two events across town. The first is on 2nd Dec (Monday evening) at Alternatives inside St. James Church in Piccadilly. This is our first event with the organisation and it is very exciting because it is a new venture/ experience for both parties. Spirituality plays an important part of my life, so to be working with an organisation that runs spiritual and self development events means a lot to me personally.

The second event is the East London Design Show from 5th until 8th December at the Old Truman Brewery. This is our third year at the show, and unlike the past, the show will be held at a bigger venue with more vendours and a new food hall. Although it is physically tiring to do a show for 4 days, it is also fun to ‘hang out’ and get to know other independent designers and crafts makers working in the industry today.


Christmas tree paper craft kit eco gift packeco balance desk planner eco from leaft tags

Top left: Christmas tree papercraft kit; top right: eco gift pack set; bottom left: eco Balance desk planner; bottom right: From left recycled tags


We will be selling our new PLAY range at the design show, as well as some newly stocked products that are perfect for Christmas and gift wrapping. The show is one of the best one-stop venue for Christmas shopping, aside from shopping, there will be free crafts workshops available too, so be sure not to miss it!


East London design show 2012

A more prepared stand this year…


I have been so busy preparing for the show that I haven’t had time to update the blog until now…

Last December, approximately 6 weeks after the launch, we did the first pop-up shopping event at East London design show. I was sick with flu, missed most of Friday’s trading and my friend had to come and help out in the weekend. There was hardly any decoration and almost zero preparation but we did surprisingly well for an unprepared first-timer!

This year, I was determined not to get sick again and started planning earlier, but as usual, things always go wrong at critical moments! My dilemma took place one day before the opening… my fridge broke down and I had to deal with all the melting food, which was a complete nuisance!

In order to minimise extra costs, I decided to do some DIY paper crafts to re-create the look of the new front page. I ended up spending hours into the night cutting and pasting, which reminded me of the days when I was an art/ design student! Surprisingly, a few people at the show asked if my display props: paper clock, wall hangings and washi paper-covered wooden pegs were available for sale. How amusing!



Overall, this year’s show was quieter and there were more browsers than shoppers. Many vendors who have shown for years told me that this year was by far quietest, are people not spending as much or are they all shopping online instead? It’s hard to tell.

As designers/ artists/ craft makers, many of us are probably not the best sales people, but it is always interesting to be meeting potential customers face to face. The questions that always pop into my head are: Should I approach and talk to them or should I leave them alone to browse? Do I sound too hard-sell, eager or pushy? It is always fascinating to see other vendors engaging with their customers and eventually getting the sales. I realised that selling face to face is a skilled technique that I need to work at, and I have a lot of respect for those who are good at it.


Right: Anna and Mauro from Oaksmith studio and their handmade picture frames


Another good thing about doing these pop-up events is the chance to get to know and make friends with other independent designers and makers. While shoppers were being careful with their purchases, we decided to support each other by spending our money within the show! There were so many unique and beautiful items on sale at the show, and it is a shame to think that majority of people would rather go to the soulless shopping malls or high street chains to do their shopping.

I sincerely hope that there will be more support for all the independent designers, makers and craftsmen around the world who have strong beliefs, specialised skills and little financial backing. At the end of the day, quality products will have a much longer life-span than mass-produced items, so why not invest in something that will last than something that you will throw out after a few usage?


Right: Lovely neightbour, Vivian from Goodwin and Goodwin


East London design show 2011

I was meant to write about the East London design show right after it ended but I caught a bad flu which disrupted all my work schedules. I almost thought I had to pull out of the show because I was so poorly! I missed half of Friday but luckily, other designers kindly covered for me, and a friend volunteered to help on Sunday, so it turned out okay in the end.

It was a last minute decision to do the show and it was our first public show since we opened in October. With such limited time and resources, I had to think of an effective and efficient way to display our products. In the end, I decided to print an A00 size poster of our theme illustration and I think it worked pretty well because it did catch visitors’ attention. Then I hired a table from the organiser and displayed our products right in front of the poster. Compared to other designers, our stand was quite minimal, it probably would have been better if we had some shelves; but hopefully, we will improve our stand display next time.

The overall experience at the show was positive despite my ill health. It was good to see how people reacted to our products and hear positive feedback. One designer who has done the show for years told me that this year had been the most quiet, I guess it’s not surprising given the current economical climate. However, our overall sales were better than I expected and I thought the show was a good way to market the e-shop.

The most fascinating thing for me though was to see how other designers interact with their customers… nowadays designers not only have to create good designs but they also need to be good salesmen. I certainly learnt a few tricks from them at the show and I hope that I will be as convincing and as good as them one day!