An Interview with founder Janet Bloom Fabres..
UpMarket is a food and craft market that welcomes and encourages small business ideas from various artisans. We provide a hub for local brand exposure, creativity, ideas and networking. Our primary goal is to offer local artisans and small businesses an opportunity to showcase and sell their craft to the public on a consistent basis while networking with similar entrepreneurs. We support innovation in local industries by facilitating ideas and encouraging those to think outside of the box. UpMarket is held monthly from February to November and weekly from the middle of November to Christmas.
Can you tell us about the concept behind UpMarket? Whose brainchild was it, was it inspired by any similar markets, what is your mission and vision?
Markets have existed for centuries as a way of trading goods but it was my brainchild to have a consistent monthly market for craft and food in Trinidad. One Carnival I was visiting one of the stalls around the Savannah and asked a very talented craftsman, “Where can I find your work if I need to buy something again?”, I was so shocked when he responded that he packs it all away until next year. I visited many markets around the world and noticed that craftsmen were able to make a living from their craft because they had a consistent outlet to do so. A market is the most affordable way to accommodate that so I decided that was what I would do as I felt it was so needed. I was in England shortly after and told my brother about the idea that I had and the next day he took me to Borough market which is a top food market in London. As soon as I walked in I turned to him and said, “ This is what I am going to do but I will combine food and craft together.” I felt so strongly that it was going to work.
What do you think open marketplaces such as UpMarket provide for micro enterprise and small business owners?
In today’s economy the average person could not afford to rent a store space as it is unaffordable. The market environment is the perfect solution to this. It is affordable and you get to deal directly with the customer.
Do you believe your market changes the face of consumerism, such as supplier-consumer relations, different ways of interacting with goods consumed, a wide cross section of goods and services that may not be related in the same space, etc.? (can you give examples).
A market offers a much more personal relationship between the artisan and the customer. This environment is a win win situation as the craftsman gets direct feedback as to what the customer prefers and the customer gains an understanding of what it takes to create the items by speaking directly with the craftsmen. Most food items are sampled so the customer is purchasing a product that they know they like as they’ve tasted it first.
What positive influence do such markets have – on both business owners and the general public alike?
One of the things that always attracted me to shopping in a market is the feeling that you are part of a community, even if you’re visiting from overseas. One of the greatest compliments I have ever gotten about the market was when a customer came to me and thanked me for bringing a community back to Trinidad. We call it the UpMarket family because it really feels like that when you visit. Bad service is a big problem with today’s business because people are doing a job that they do not enjoy. Vendors at UpMarket are working with something that they feel passionate and enthusiastic about.
Do you believe there are any cons to such markets? What about any challenges you have faced – it surely can’t always be a smooth path?
One of the challenges has been finding suitable, affordable venues to accommodate what we do. A space that is comfortable for the vendor and customer.
What about the diversification of consumable items? What space does UpMarket provide for persons who either make or import items with niche markets that may be hard to reach?
UpMarket supports all items of quality that are locally made. These items have priority in full markets. We also welcome items made by global artisans and anything that I feel would add interest to the market, such as health items, interesting gadgets, etc. There are always new things to explore at each market.
What is the ultimate goal of UpMarket?
The ultimate goal would be to have a permanent venue to call home so that we can have markets each weekend. This consistency would provide craftsmen a higher possibility of earning a living from their craft. I’ve received phone calls from all over the world with inquiries as to which date the market will be held so that they can plan a vacation around it.
Are there any niche markets planned in the future that are marketed to specific groups? Or any ideas you may have on niche markets you would like to explore in the future?
I have several ideas where that is concerned but I am keeping them a secret 🙂