The domed roof of Leeds Corn Exchange with six coloured doors taken from basement level looking up at the roof

My First Artisan Market

I recently attended my first ever artisan market as a stallholder! Well… I say first ever… I secured a stall at a Craft and Flea event at the Left Bank Leeds a few years ago however it was when the world was strange during covid, I had to be at the stall on my own and wear a mask so I don’t feel like I can really count that as my full first proper as no one wanted to be near anyone!

So, my first foray into selling at artisan markets was with Tilly and Primrose Artisan Markets and it was at Leeds Corn Exchange on 16th March 2024.

Application Process

The process started with applying for the market which was through a super easy application form on Tilly and Primrose Artisan Markets' website. It asked for information such as the name of your business, which market you wished to apply for and things like your social media and a brief description of your business. Once submitted, it was a case of waiting for the lovely Holly to review the application.

Application Accepted – Yey!

Holly kept everyone updated as to where she was with applications via the Tilly and Primrose Artisan Markets' Instagram, and it wasn’t long before I received an email saying that my application was successful – very exciting! To secure the stall, I just need to confirm that I still wished to take part, send a copy of my public liability insurance and pay the cost of the stall (which was clearly outlined prior to applying) – as easy as that.

Market Preparation

From application accepted to the market date was 3 months, plenty of time to prepare. There was a lot of things to think about in this time, how much stock I would need, how I wanted to display my products, all the branding elements – it got a bit overwhelming I’m not going to lie! However, my wonderful partner sat me down and held me to write a priority list so I could tick off each of the elements as I was progressing.


At this point, I had already started making my cushions, perfecting them so they were the highest possible quality so I knew they would be pride of place on my market stall! I started to design a new fabric print – Blossom – which was based on fresh blooms and the changing of seasons. I intended to launch this on market day as a new product.

Trying to work out how many I would need was a difficult one having never done a market before! I based the number of cushions required on how I was going to display them. I thought that it would be good to display them at height to capture the eye, so I settled on a tiered shelving unit. This unit had 6 shelves which was great for having three cushions (one of each design) on display and then having sections at the bottom which are accessible for people to touch and pick up. I decided that I would have – in each design – one display, two accessible on stall and one spare.

After deciding on cushion quantities, I got to work on making them! 11 cushions in total were made across one weekend, lots of cups of tea were had in the process and I was finding thread all over the house for weeks afterwards.



Once cushions were made, it was now time to decide on prints. I went through my original paintings and shortlisted 5 which I thought would make good prints, I then went over to Instagram to do a poll to find out what people thought! From this, four prints were chosen, and I sent them over to the fabulous Print.Work in Leeds to get them printed. I decided to go for a square print of 14.8cm as these felt a nice size to display both alone and with other prints – it was also in keeping with the original paintings which were square. I chose unicorn white paper and went for heavy 300gsm.

My prints arrived and wow were they vibrant! The colours were fantastic, they looked and felt super high quality, and they really captured the texture of the original paintings. I opted to limit the run of these to 10 per design, signing and numbering the edition on the back.

How on earth was I going to protected them from getting damaged? Well while ordering the prints from Print.Work, I noticed they also sold biodegradable cello bags which I thought were perfect to keep them from getting dusty, so I spent just under an hour popping each print into a bag prior to the market.


Alongside my cushions and prints, I thought it was only right to take some of my paintings with me as this is where all my other products have stemmed from! There wasn’t much prep required for these as they were already made, it was more thinking about how I was going to display them on my stall as I had quite a lot! After doing a bit of research, I decided to opt for a card display stand as it would allow me to display quite a few at a time, saving space but also – as it was tiered – would catch the eye as they were closer to eye level. I was also hoping it would encourage people to pick them up and take a closer look.


The branding side was the bit I was most excited about. I’d created my logo ages ago but thinking about how I was going to use it within my market stall was super exciting! My first port of call was to create a fabric banner for my table to show who I was. This would be pride of place hanging at the front of my stall. From there I thought about where my logo would make sense to be placed, so I opted for two different sizes of stickers which would go on the front of those biodegradable cello bags I mentioned earlier but also on paper bags if someone purchased something. This would mean the bags were a small advertisement for me too!


Market Day – Setup!

Market Day arrived and I was pulling up to the car park behind Leeds Corn Exchange by 8:45am with a very full car ready to set up for 10am opening. After unloading the car, I traversed my way across some very cobbled streets with an incredible unstable trolley to the service doors of the Corn Exchange where I was warmly greeted by Holly who told me where me stall would be.

The market was held in the basement of Leeds Corn Exchange, a beautiful round space with amazing views of the ground floor level and domed roof above. Arriving at my table, I had nervous excitement as I started to get everything out and ready. I placed my white tablecloth and fabric banner on the table followed by starting the construction of the shelves for my cushions. Once they were up it was a case of arranging the cushions then putting up my card display stand. I spent a good ten minutes deciding which paintings would go where before I moved on to arranging my prints. My price cards were moved more times than I can count, trying to find the perfect place for them. Once I was happy with how everything was arranged, I made sure my card reader was working correctly and I had everything I needed if I made a sale ready at my fingertips (such as business cards, paper bags etc.).

Card machine working, all stock and price cards displayed, all packaging hidden out the way, I was ready for opening!


Market Opens

It’s 10am and the market is open for business! It’s initially a steady start but the number of people coming down starts to increase very quickly – there was a wonderful buzz about the place as people were chatting to stallholders and buying lovely things from small businesses.

I had lots of compliments about my work which was really nice to hear, and I encouraged people to pick things up and touch the cushions (with them being made of velvet, they are super soft to the touch).

I didn’t have chance to walk round and look at all the other stallholders who were taking part but from what I could see from my stall was that there was a lot of other lovely businesses selling a variety of different things. What is great about Tilly and Primrose Artisan Markets is that Holly curates each market to ensure that there aren’t too many small businesses selling very similar products. I could see another artist but they were selling completely different kinds of products to me so the customers had a real variety of things they could get.

I also noticed that a lot of stallholders knew each other so there was lots of people saying hello to each other and having a chat, it really made it feel like there was a sense of community within the market and that people who sell at them regularly start to make really good friends.

As the market started to wind down as we headed towards close at 5pm, I had very achy feet and a painful face from all the chatting and smiling I had done that day!

Post Market

Reflecting on my experience, I may not have sold as much as I had hoped to but I had such a good experience and I think Tilly and Primrose Artisan Markets were a really good first market to attend. Holly was super communicative and ensured you had all the information you needed ahead of time. She ensured that the markets were advertised and posted on social media about each stallholder to ensure each person had equal exposure.

I learnt so much from the experience in regards to setting up the stall, do’s and don’ts, re-looking at pricing and just generally how to be a stallholder at a market (note to self – get a better trolley!) I have been accepted to have a stall again with Tilly and Primrose Artisan Markets at Leeds Corn Exchange on Saturday 13th April and I’m really looking forward to it now I have one under my belt!


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