After being made redundant from their marketing positions, Marissa Bowden and Sarah Schoeller could have moped around feeling sorry for themselves.
Instead, their redundancies turned out to be just the kick start these business savvy, fashion lovers needed.
Over the office water cooler, the young marketing executives had often shared their love of interstate fashion markets such as Sydney's Paddington, Bondi and Glebe where one-off finds and emerging designer labels were in abundance. So, when they were made redundant from their seemingly stable marketing jobs at the start of the GFC, the girls, at 26, decided to follow their hearts and start the first emerging designer and vintage market on Queensland's Gold Coast. Armed with their marketing, events and business skills, the entrepreneurial pair developed a comprehensive business plan and set up meetings with the local council and various venues.
In October 2008, The Village Markets was launched with just nine quality stalls. Four years on, the event averages 70 stalls, has a staggering 15,000 Facebook fans and attracts 2,500 shoppers through the gates each month.
It has so far provided an incredible platform for talented emerging fashion, swimwear and accessory designers - from Byron Bay through to Bundaberg - to showcase their collections, as well as providing a monthly creative hub and much needed cultural infusion for the Gold Coast.
'It’s so rewarding to hear people talking about how much they love the markets and to see the number of people attending each event is really special,’ says Bowden. 'It's amazing to see how much the event has grown and we are so glad we could create something that people look forward to.’
While juggling the markets with their full-time marketing positions (Bowden as fan communications coordinator of the new Gold Coast SUNS AFL franchise, and Schoeller as marketing manager of Zarraffa’s Coffee) the girls were inundated with emails and from interstate fashionistas asking for the event to be more regular.
It was in 2011 they decided to take The Village Markets to a bi-monthly event, held on the first and third Sunday of every month. The Village Markets have also ‘popped up’ at iconic Coast events like Swell Sculpture Festival and most recently Bleach* Surfing the Fringe. Each market now attracts stall holders from as far North as the Sunshine Coast and South to Melbourne and Sydney. The market has also been featured on Channel 7’s The Great South East, in national magazines InStyle and Cleo, as well as on numerous blogs.
Despite starting small, these Griffith Business graduates have created a much needed cultural event for the Gold Coast and creative alike.