Thursday, 14 November 2013

All's Fair in Love and Markets: Christmas Special

There's many things the I Love Markets team loves about this time of year: bonfires, hearty food, woolly hats... but something that gets us really excited is the sudden explosion of Christmas Fairs. London and the world are eager to show us what delights they want to sell to us this Christmas and here at ILM we are more than willing to oblige... so much so we went to a whopping THREE fairs in one week. Here's some of the wonders we stumbled across...

Country Living Christmas Fair
We literally did not know where to start when we entered this magical maze of an event which housed hundreds of stallholders, all calling to customers ready to not just start but finish their Christmas shopping. Some of the fabulous people we met included...

Henry Arlington. We felt his shirts first hand and can agree they are made of the finest silk! We had lots of lolz with this dazzling shirt and accessories expert.

Henry Arlington at Country Living Christmas Fair
Henry Arlington

Joe Butler from Croglin Designs. We loved hearing the story behind his beautiful chopping boards - and his Christmas decorations made us pretty happy too! If these aren't an excuse for bread and cheese, what is.

Croglin Designs at Country Living Christmas Fair
Croglin Designs

We spent at least ten minutes cooing over Turquaz' pyjamas for babies. They had all sorts of things for grown ups too!

Turquaz at Country Living Christmas Fair
Turquaz at Country Living Christmas Fair

Real Four Leaved Clovers - all these clovers are real and snapped up from the founder's back garden! Lucky for some...

Real Four Leaved Clovers at Country Living Christmas Fair
Real Four Leaved Clovers

From ice-cream soaps to vegan mud pies, Country Living had treated us well. After three and a half hours meeting these wonderful entrepreneurs it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Luckily a couple days later saw the start of...

The Spirit of Christmas Fair

The Spirit of Christmas Fair
The Spirit of Christmas Fair

ILM went West to Kensington Olympia, where the Spirit of Christmas was getting into full, seasonal swing. Greeted by the essence of spice and pine, we were once again subjected to the dilemma of which path to take first! It turned out a slightly more food and drink related one.

Crowded stalls were not hard to come by at this fair, but perhaps none were so crowded as Thunder Vodka. They unsurprisingly had flocks of customers swarming around their toffee flavoured vodka, which makes for a very creative cocktail ingredient... tempted, us?!

Thunder Vodka at Spirit of Christmas Fair
Thunder Vodka

After a bit of alcohol it was a good job Equalitea were around to tell us about their Christmassy teas. We got to sniff the leaves that went into the various festive flavours, such as First Flakes, a blend of raspberry, cocoa and cinnamon, and Oriental Light, which oozes scents of tangerines and spices. The business has been budding now for about a year... here's to many more!

Equalitea at Spirit of Christmas

Spirit of Christmas, which was sponsored by House & Garden Magazine, conveyed what passions the stallholders had for their growing businesses and ideas, which is always inspirational to us at the ILM team. Several samples and Christmas songs later, it was time for a quick tube ride over to...

Renegade Craft Fair

Renegade Craft Fair
Renegade Craft Fair
ILM could not contain our excitement about this last fair - not only was it a chance to meet an endless array of talented designers and makers, but we were very proud to see a good handful of ILM members there too. Although Renegade was not by technicality a Christmas Fair, it was undeniably a haven for those looking for innovative, extraordinary and unique Christmas presents!

We loved the new collections that The Little Matters had on her stall - animals in woolly hats always win us round. We love meeting all our stallholders in person so it was really nice to speak to Lillian, the mind behind the Matters, for the first time!

The Little Matters at Renegade Craft Fair
The Little Matters

Hand Sculpted Vintage Camera Necklace by The Little Matters
Hand Sculpted Vintage Camera Necklace by The Little Matters, £23

Mister Peebles never fails to provide us with literal glee. Who could turn away from David Meowie, Jimi Hendrix and the ever friendly Alright Duck? As always, Mr P's stall looked beautiful, adorned with all his cheeky animal friends.

Mister Peebles at Renegade Craft Fair
Mister Peebles

When we first met Postcode Prints, they had began in South London and were 'aiming to get as far as they can from where they started'. They must be doing OK as they've managed to get to Truman Brewery E1, which is where Renegade was being held! It doesn't matter where you go though - Postcode Prints can create a cool and colourful print to suit your locality!

Camden Lock by Postcode Prints
Camden Lock by Postcode Prints, £30

Usually seen at Old Spitalfields Market, Miss Ella quite possibly defines the word 'eclectic' by providing the world with her wonderous and often feline pieces. You can find out more about how she comes up with them here.

Merkitty Wooden Necklace by Miss Ella
Merkitty Wooden Necklace by Miss Ella, £14

After pondering through hundreds and hundreds of stalls for the week, we were excited to remember that Renegade was being held right next to the Brick Lane Sunday Upmarket. A sneaky glass of mulled wine lifted our tired but inspired heads as we left the building! 

Mulled Wine outside Brick Lane Sunday Upmarket
Mulled Wine outside Brick Lane Sunday Upmarket

We think it's now fair to say Christmas is coming...

If that's still not enough stallholders for you, remember we have over 700 of them - so take a look and find a favourite of your own! Similarly, if you didn't manage to complete or even start your Christmas shopping last week, we have some of the most unique products to fill your stocking with - available 24/7 online, of course! SHOP NOW.

We'll also be at our very own Christmas Fair. I Love Markets are taking over a corner of Handmade Christmas at the O2... listen out for how to win tickets!

Hollye Murphy

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Portobello Rocks - AGAIN!

Video by David from Fostudio - Thanks again David!

We had to wait a long one and half months until we at I Love Markets could hold the second ever Portobello Rocks, and a battle with a struggling Hammersmith & City Line was not going to hold us back any further! With 20 lovely stallholders in tow and a ream of ILM bunting, I Love Markets and team were ready to rock the westside once again. The question was, was it going to rain?

I Love Markets stall at Portobello Rocks
Some beautiful customers at the ILM stall!

For three of our fabulous stallholders, this was their second Portobello Rocks also. The Golden Grass Company dazzled as always with their beautiful jewellery which is made from a natural Brazilian plant, and only when completely finished is the jewellery allowed to leave the country. We're very glad it reaches us eventually!

The Golden Grass Company at Portobello Rocks
The Golden Grass Company

Haus of Artisans also returned with their stunning collections of jewellery and clothing. Previously a 'trader of the week' at our beloved Netil Market, the ladies behind the brand are advocates of keeping cultural craftmanship alive, resulting in beautiful pieces like this Crystal Quartz Hammered Ring:

Crystal Quartz Hammered Ring by Haus of Artisans
Crystal Quartz Hammered Ring, £60
Haus of Artisans at Portobello Rocks
Haus of Artisans
Our final serial Portobello Rocker was the lovely Trina from Trina's Delicacies. Delighting us as ever with her organic and fairtrade treats, the only problem she causes ILM is that we never know which one to choose.
Trina's Delicacies at Portobello Rocks
Trina's Delicacies
(...OK, we had to choose in the end. This Lemon & Earl Grey Cupcake was a first-timer for Trina and we were extremely willing to be the guinea pigs!)

Standing on your feet all day means you stand to lose a lot of calories, so luckily Trina wasn't the only one trying to save us from such a loss. Petite Douceur truly opened our eyes to the wide world of exotic jams (sweet potato jam anyone?). Our only issue was that the ILM stall was right next to Thaina's, the genius behind Petite Douceur. This resulted in a lot of jams being 'sampled' and a current refusal for said jams to get out of our heads. The Guava was one of our faves - and available to buy in the ILM shop, by the way!
Petite Douceur at Portobello Rocks
Petite Douceur
Our savoury teeth were also satisfied by Omar, Lubna and family. The team had been up since three in the morning to bring us incredible Indian and Pakistani delights, and you could very much taste the labour of love in the food! The bhajis were amazing, but as our words don't quite do them justice, you can come sample for yourself as they will be joining us again in November.

Indian/Pakistani Food at Portobello Rocks
Lubna and family
Our stomachs full, we were also astounded by some of the aesthetic effort some of our stallholders went into. Magda from Monster Threads looked like she'd set up her own little pop-up shop amongst all the market bustle, her stand complete with a typewriter on which customers could leave their emails for her mailing list.

Monster Threads at Portobello Rocks
Monster Threads

Queue also Ava from Ava Designs who had stayed up all night making delicate origami birds to decorate her stall. ILM's Hollye could not stop raving about these beautiful creations (they were a lot more effective than the origami hat that ILM's Ben had recently made), however Ava's jewellery was also very beautiful!

Ava Designs at Portobello Rocks
Ava Designs
Bag ladies were in for a treat at this October's pop-up as we had not one but two stalls dedicated to the wondrous products. Made of Carpet did just that, and gave us beautiful bags created from different styles of floor carpet. They need to be seen to be believed! Yildizandi took a more traditional leather bag route, however their clever upcycling skills and cutting edge eye for design resulted in something that was truly unique... no wonder their stall was so popular!

Yildizandi at Portobello Rocks
If you thought you'd never see a leg dressed in a beautiful frilled sock fly across Portobello Green, you were wrong. Frills by AD brought a playful but stylish stall to Portobello Rocks and provided the perfect addition to any fashionista's collection. Unfortunately the wind played a bit of havoc with the props on the stall... but that made the socks look even cooler!

Frills by AD at Portobello Rocks
Frills by AD
 Next to Frills was a subtle reminder that the Day of the Dead is upon us. Juan is Dead never fails to delight us with their illustrative stories of Juan, Alberto, Lucia and all their skeletal mates, who seem to think that life (or rather, death) is one big party. You can read how the founder, Leah Reeves, came up with this magical world here.

Juan is Dead at Portobello Rocks
Juan is Dead

Directly opposite Leah, Juan and co was Made by Bea. We discovered Bea's handmade goodies way back, when ILM's Katie bought a baby blanket from her in Old Spitalfields. Needless to say we were more than excited to see her set up with us at Portobello!

Made by Bea at Portobello Rocks
Made by Bea

Jewellery lovers were spoilt for choice last Saturday, with every taste being quite easily catered for. First of all we had Crystal and Stone, who's stall had a constant crowd flocking to see what the designer, Amanda, had on offer. We're not surprised - this silver Stacking Ring is inescapably on trend but only £13!

Stacking Ring by Crystal and Stone
Stacking Ring, £13
Next we had GN Jewellery and T+A Total Accessories. Although Gosia and Ana were clearly great mates, their styles were distinctly different. T+A's lovely scarves also seemed to be calling when the weather turned later in the day!

T+A Total Accessories and GN Jewellery
T+A Total Accessories and GN Jewellery
Green Crochet Wire Earrings by GN Jewellery, £22
Despite the lack of sunshine on Saturday, Kenza Accessories bought some much needed bling to the market which kept Portobello shining! Founder Gemma has a diverse range of standout pieces that range not just from earrings to necklaces, but also clutches, hats and scarves.

Kenza Accessories
Kenza Accessories

Iguana Jazz brought a spectacular spot of statement to Portobello in the form of truly trending jewellery with incredibly good prices! We were very tempted by their beautiful £7 necklaces. The duo behind it all, Naomi and Connagh, came to see us all the way from Manchester and also had illustrated t-shirts which were very cool indeed. We want the whole collection!

Iguana Jazz at Portobello Rocks
Iguana Jazz
The phrase 'time flies when you're having fun' was very relevant to Saturday's pop-up; however we still couldn't help stealing a peek at Wendy Boorer's stall, Clocky Wocky. If clocks could create rainbows, then it would have happened here at Portobello Rocks! Wendy lovingly makes the clocks by sourcing and reworking old records, as well as other bits and pieces (Barbies, for instance!). We love the Floral Shabby Chic Wall Clock.

Floral Shabby Chic Wall Clock by Clocky Wocky
Floral Shabby Chic Wall Clock, £35

Clocky Wocky at Portobello Rocks
Clocky Wocky
Speaking of clocks - we all know they went back this week, which meant it got dark pretty early at this Portobello Rocks. However we had nothing to fear as Pangham were selling a mystical collection of fairy lights. We're used to seeing innovative jewellery designs from Pangham, so these glittering balls of magic were a captivating surprise. Plus - they were only £15!

Pangham at Portobello Rocks
Last, but - and we must stress this explicitly - by absolutely no means least, came the latest addition to the I Love Markets family, House of Immy. Providing us with a treasure trove of fabulous vintage, their stall was full of enchanting clothes, shoes and accessories. ILM's Hollye was quite literally ecstatic to purchase the below shoes, for only ten measly pounds! She would quite happily visit the House of Immy every week.

Shoes by House of Immy
£10 Shoes!

House of Immy at Portobello Rocks
House of Immy

So that's it - October's Portobello Rocks is over and has established itself as Portobello's most fashionable place to be once more. But we are not done popping up at Porto; our next dates are November 30th and December 7th, and we are hoping to see you all there! 

Plus - if you fancy becoming a Portobello Rocker yourself, we'd be delighted to hear from you. We have a couple spaces left for both November and December so please have a look at these details and nab yourself a spot! Until then, keep on rocking...

Oh P.S - it DID rain very heavily, but not until we were packing up to go home. Nature obviously wanted to enjoy Portobello Rocks as much as we did!

Hollye Murphy

*Portobello Rocks happened again in 2014, read more.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

My Market Weekender-Bender

When I’m feeling a bit down, useless or agitated, there’s nothing I like better than a proper market binge. After a busy month in September, I finally got my hands on the market scene last weekend. And there’s nothing I recommend more!


The first stop came in perfect time for our grumbling tums, as Brixton Station Road Market turned into a multicultural haven for food. The festival had been running all week (Cocktail Wednesday was on earlier in the week, needless to say I was gutted to miss that one), but this very special international event had been opened by the Mayor of Lambeth, Mark Bennett.

Save the Bee, Brixton Station Road Market at Brixton Food Fest
You said it Brixton!

While the BF went straight for the pulled pork burger, I was delighted to find The Bounty of Mimir’s Well, a table of what seemed to be magical preserves and jams. Presented with the choice of trying the light kiwi jam or the dark kiwi jam, I was dared by Feaghall, the creative mind behind it all, to try the dark. Quite frankly the easiest dare I have ever accepted, the flavours and textures in this gorgeous thing are surely enough to swing a jam-hater’s mind. I would take this forfeit in spin the bottle any day!

The Bounty of Mimir's Well, jams and chutneys
The lovely people at The Bounty of Mimir's Well


A couple streets down was one of my favourite markets of all time, Crafty Fox at the Dogstar Pub. What I love about this place is that I always discover something I never had before, and the creativity over the three floors really does force you to challenge your own imagination. In a nice, inviting way of course!

Crafty Fox Market, Dogstar Brixton
The usual foxy character welcomes us outside the Dogstar

Working from the top down, I was delighted to find Blonde Fox Vintage amongst the printing workshops. Very tempted by their Christmas jumpers, they had a sparkling offer of genuine vintage delights, which oozed temptation from every rail (vintage is to ILM as chocolate is to…ILM). Talking of temptation, down one flight of stairs were the fabulous Teas Knees who have been popping up at the market since it began. Resisting the generously sized cream teas, I chose a Sticky Toffee Cupcake for only £2.

The Teas Knees, Sticky Toffee Cupcake and Blue Moon
Yes, I had it with a pint of Blue Moon. I was in a pub after all!

The next thing to almost flaw me was one of my most exciting discoveries of the day; Caleigh-Ill and their Russian Owl Dolls. Mesmerised by their dark, vibrant designs, I had to tear myself away from their stall. All their work is brilliant!


Robin Ring by Kirsten Stride
Robin Ring by Kirstin Stride

For £10, this is the cutest thing I have ever seen. If Robins aren’t for you, designer Kirstin offers all kinds of little birds – and if you don’t like birds, she does other things too.

Pigeon Bird Sticker by Birds in Hats
Bird Sticker by Birds in Hats

I love finding Birds in Hats at Crafty Fox as – well, there’s just nothing better than a bird in a hat. Designer Alice Tams was literally sitting by her stall designing one of her Christmas birds which was a great little insight into her process. I troubled her to by a £1 BIH sticker, which is now perching proudly on my laptop, under my I Love Markets sticker – TRUE STORY.

Virgo Constellation Card by Sabrina Kaicia
Virgo Constellation Card by Sabrina Kaici

I almost jumped up and down in excitement when I got to Sabrina's stall. As a bit of a moon, star and constellation freak myself, Sabrina showed me what her amazing moon print looked like under the tablecloth; the answer was it GLOWS IN THE DARK. Apologies for letting my inner geek out, but I was devastated to have already gone past my budget to purchase this. I instead opted for one of her lovely constellation cards, at a very affordable £2.50. She does all the constellations, so go see her if you have a friend’s birthday coming up (or get your own constellation… for yourself… like I did).


A quick sleep at the end of the day, and I was ready to get up on a sunny Sunday morning and make my way down to York Hall in Bethnal Green for October’s Vintage Kilo Sale. ILM readers will already know my emotions towards this worthy event, which charges you vintage by the weight, rather than the item (£15 a kilo). Enjoying the vintage shockers as much as I did the little gems of finds, I finally managed to get my Christmas jumper!


Closing off the weekend was a bus ride to Hackney Downs and joining the newly born Village Green Market, which is ran by our friends the Creative Network Partners. October meant OKTOBERFEST and a celebration of German food and drink. I was absolutely staggered to see the queue for Signature Brew, who were offering beautiful ales for a modest £4.50. Beautiful however must have been an understatement as the queue literally snaked around the market – suggesting to me that this was by far the most popular find of my market weekend. Although we didn’t make the queue, I fulfilled my need for beer by indulging in this delicious Lager and Lime Bunt Cake, which was only £1.50!

Lager and Lime Bunt Cake, Village Green Market
Delicious Lager and Lime Bunt Cake

Making my way through all the individual and pretty crafts and fashions, I found a pop-up shop housing beautiful products from a number of independent designers. The range also included our very own Juan is Dead.

Jorge Playing Poker, Ceramic Tile by Juan is Dead
Jorge Playing Poker, Ceramic Tile by Juan is Dead, £12

I rounded off the day with another quick shot of vintage (it’s like caffeine to me), by popping into Smoking Gun Vintage, which was another interior shop space incorporated into the Village Green. This really brought out my inner magpie as I was captivated by all the sparkle from all those decades ago; for a small space, the geniuses behind the shop squeezed a lot of treasures inside. The BF wouldn’t let me buy anymore vintage though… I don’t blame him. 

All that marketeering and I didn’t even get a hangover!

Hollye Murphy