Canterbury’s Student Entrepreneurs Create a Unique Christmas Market

The first ever Canterbury Student Makers Market took place in Iron Bar Lane on Wednesday 12th December, with over twenty stalls showcasing original work from 40 of the city’s most talented artists and makers.

This beautiful and vibrant Christmas market attracted shoppers and tourists alike with the unique combination of beautiful hand made products, hot and cold food and live music.

Designed to showcase the extraordinary student talent in the city, this ground-breaking project also gave young creative makers some business and sales experience and hopes to encourage creative graduates to start their own businesses.

The students had all attended a workshop during November where they learned about market trading from Gary Davies, the Market Manager, learned first-hand about the challenges of starting a craft business with local designer maker, Jasmine Hodge who has a successful design business The Font Tree based in the city and a session on business modelling with Bob Jones, from Canterbury City Partnership.

The project was organised by Future Foundry, along with partners Canterbury Market,  the Creative Student Network, Canterbury City Partnership and Rochester based BSK-CIC  as part of Canterbury Festival’s Prosper programme.

‘Prosper is all about making new partnerships and opportunities for people in the city with a focus on the arts and creative industries. Supporting our students to use their skills and expertise and then to test their ideas on a market has been a brilliant way to involve them and help them look at how they can make a living in the future. On the day, everyone had a great time, learned a huge amount and even made some money!’ Lisa Oulton, Director Future Foundry.

A number of the students have formed a  Creative Student Network to highlight opportunities for students in the city and to connect them to each other and the local business community, fine artist Sam Giles said:

‘We became involved as this was not a university led initiative, but an independent project open to every University course and young creative person in the area, this was not a module to be passed, but students finding out what they need to know in the real world from their own community. It was great that the market was such a success and involved students from all of the Canterbury universities.’

The students impressed everyone with their professional attitude and friendly approach, the live music was great, creating a fantastic atmosphere for all the students and their customers. The quality and wide range of products available was equally impressive, from Nepalese dumplings to designer knitwear and from hand made jewellery to fine art prints and it was great to connect students from local schools and all of the city’s universities – University of the Creative Arts, University of Kent  and Canterbury Christ Church University. The Student Makers Market was such a success that there are plans to make this a regular opportunity for the city’s students in the future. Bob Jones said:

 ‘The Makers Market is exactly the type of activity the city needs, both to give people the chance to try their hand at business but also to offer new, exciting and different products in a lively and interesting environment. We are looking at ways to make this happen on a regular basis and I am sure this will be another Canterbury success story.’

UKC Student Maker Fran Haselden from Ruby Tuesday Creative said:

‘It was fantastic. I loved every second of it. It was hard work but it was great to have this opportunity and I felt very supported throughout the process. I got lots of exposure and experience, and am raring to go again, lots of new ideas and interesting to see what sells and what doesn’t.’

Live music for the event was organised by Simon Langton Girls student Emily Edwards, who promotes bands as part of Herne Bay Music. Prosper is a Canterbury FestivalWorkers of Art and The Map Consortium initiative funded by Arts Council England