Handmade with tender loving care
KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — While they are not exactly “common”, craft markets have been popping up all over the place. Even then, not all craft markets are created equal. Many of them are just resellers... they buy stuff from elsewhere and resell it at these markets.
If you are looking for quirky, handcrafted items made with tender loving care, you have to head to the next Little Red Market! Started by two Australian expats, Little Red Market was a small community project that was mostly promoted at international schools before it grew to what it is today.
Melissa Dioguardi and Sally Vanston love quilting and wanted to create an outlet to sell their handmade quilts in a space that was reminescent of the craft markets in Australia.
“Melissa and I are from Melbourne actually, and we knew each other then. I love working with fabric and this was a good excuse to do what I love. We started Little Red Market back in November 2011 at Melissa’s place.
“Back then, we only had 17 stalls but there were more than 300 people attending the first market. And with the help of social media like Facebook and our site, we managed to tap into an amazing community of talented crafters who blew us away with their handmade products,” Sally explained.
Their second market was in February 2012 with 27 stalls, also at Dioguardi’s home. But on On May 13, 2012, the third Little Red Market was held at The White Box, Publika with 46 stores participating.
The White Box was transformed into a beautiful air-conditioned market, with handsewn buntings hanging on the walls, stalls manned by people selling their craft and happy children colouring at a corner while their parents browsed through the splendid collection of drawings, quilts, macarons, homemade jams, notebooks, jewellery, baby clothes, soap and more.
Quite simply, Little Red Market is unlike any other bazaar or craft market in Kuala Lumpur. To be part of this awesome community, you have to submit an application and photos of your products. The criteria is that the products must be handmade or designed by the booth owner. Yes, it’s kind of like an audition.
If you are looking for a whimsical product that is of high quality then Little Red Market is the place for it. At the Little Red Market, you are transported to a place where the energy and passion of the artists bring a sense of community love to the atmosphere.
Friendly faces greet you as you walk towards booths filled with handmade products that took hours and days to make. You can see a part of the artist in each product; the effort, the love and the commitment in creating the best.
Most of the products at the Little Red Market are reasonably priced. I was surprised to find some treasures that were made with so much detail but cost only a fraction of the prices for a more commercially-made equivalent.
Loo Jia Wen of Inkypots is all smiles as I walk up to her booth. Uniquely shaped plates and pottery are placed artistically and from the craftsmanship, you can tell that Loo is extraordinary when it comes to clay.
“I made these using local clay from Ipoh. Then I bring it to my teacher’s workshop to fire and finish the products,” said Loo as she showed me a rattan weave plate.
“Rattan Weave? Where did you get the rattan from? Your mother’s chair?” I was really curious how furniture can be of use to making clay pottery.
“Yes, I used an old chair to make the plate,” laughed Loo. Inspecting it closer, I could see the imprint of the rattan on the clay plate. Very impressive!
Venturing further into the Little Red Market, I saw a young college student and her mother manning a booth filled with Intricately designed handmade notebooks with quirky designs.
“I’m actually a design student from Singapore,” the shy artist said.
“So you came back just for Little Red Market? And I presume, to celebrate Mother’s Day too,” I inquired while smiling at the mother. The artist smiled bashfully and told me that she was supposed to join another bazaar but she couldn’t make it.
Besides, it was Mother’s Day and what better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than at the Little Red Market selling handmade works... with your mother. I found it very moving... a mother giving moral support to her daughter at the Little Red Market on Mother’s Day.
Typically, Little Red Market starts at 10am and finishes at 4pm. It was during noon when I felt I needed some sustenance and that’s when I stumbled upon Crumbs.
I’ve never seen macarons with designs before and it was so cute seeing macarons with Doraemon designs. Aleena, the owner of Crumbs, said that the flavour of the specially designed macarons is Salted Caramel.
“I use fresh imported ingredients for my macarons. Like this cempedak flavoured macaron, I used the real fruit to give it a natural flavour,” said Aleena, pointing at her best-selling cempedak flavoured macaron. She usually sells her macarons online at her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/crumbs.macaron.
The macarons by Aleena were surprisingly affordable, seeing that they were made from fresh ingredients. Little Red Market was beginning to grow on me, meeting these talented people and hearing their amazing stories.
Next stop was the five-member indie designers Oh and Ah’s booth. Handpainted jewellery, multi-purpose cases shaped like wooden school buses and one-of-a-kind Robot Dog are some of the eye-catching designs Oh and Ah has.
Most of the handcrafted goods were pretty affordable and worth every cent. I remember buying a ring from Oh and Ah for my cousin’s birthday before. It featured a bikini-clad figurine on grass and you could actually feel the texture of the grass on the ring.
“We have a shop in Bangsar if you want to check out more of our designs,” said Su, one of the designers at Oh and Ah. Three of the designers from Oh and Ah were manning the booth, Su, Tuck Loong and Teck Yew. The other two members, Sweii and Lorna were taking a break because they were in charge of the day shift.
I almost bought one of the wooden school buses because it was so adorable but I resisted the temptation. Maybe I’ll check them out at their store in Bangsar soon.
Stuffed toys are always a favourite among children and sometimes also perfect gifts for girlfriends. You can make your own stuffed toy from Pupurin, where odd but cute looking mascots are sold in D-I-Y kits. Pupurin also sells handphone cases, ready made stuffed toys and other cute knick-knacks that will make even aunties squeal in delight. Again, I was tempted to just buy a D-I-Y stuffed toy.
That’s the thing about Little Red Market. Just when you thought you saw the quirkiest thing ever, there is another amazing product you can’t wait to get your hands on at the next booth. By the end of the day, you just feel that you want to own every piece of handcrafted product that the Little Red Market has to offer.
Did I mention that Dioguardi’s quilt store, Lola Jazz, had a quilted teepee for children? Excuse me while I kick myself for not buying it for myself.
To find out more about the next Little Red Market check them out at http://www.littleredmarket.com The next one is in October so please