SISTERS Gemma Slattery and Karla Cowper were raised in a family where market madness was part of life. Their dad used to drag them around to markets every weekend. The cumulative effect, many years later, is a love of markets.
Next Saturday, November 15, the sisters celebrate the first anniversary of their own markets, the Hunt & Gather Markets, at Pacific Park in Newcastle East.
"We wanted to create a bazaar market for Gen Y," Slattery says.
They have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, going from 18 stalls a year ago to just on 100 stalls now, featuring quality designer fashions, art and food.
They are shaping the markets all the time, most recently addressing the need for more men's fashion stalls.
The set-up in the park is well-designed, making use of pathways and natural sound barriers. While it is busy, there is room to sit aside and enjoy a coffee or chat, or visit a booth with seating for food. And there are two staging areas for music, with busking allowed in other areas.
"I think our mantra has always been quality over quantity," Slattery says.
"We have grown it organically. We feel like it is quite a different offering than other markets in Newcastle."
Their initial stallholders have stayed loyal, including Casa De Loco's food van El Poco Loco, Annie Everingham (art), Oh Fleur (flowers), Archon Designs (beauty), Flamingo Merchant (homewares), IINA (jewellery), Common Fix Cold Brew (coffee), Radha (fashion) and Growing Books (plants potted in old books).
The market celebrates its first birthday on November 15.
Special attractions on the day include large tepees (by Katalane Tents) as performance areas and free facepainting for adults (by make-up artist Trish Lee G).
Slattery and Cowper had not run markets before, but they had a good background to get into it. Slattery was in sales and marketing, while Cowper had experience as a buyer for David Jones and Burberry. Perhaps most importantly, they are self-confessed "crazy market shoppers".
"We have been all over the UK, New York, and Sydney," Slattery says. "When we moved here, we felt the need to create something. We thought we will take all of our experiences and create something in Newcastle."
While they do not intend to push for more frequent markets (now held on the third Sunday of each month), Slattery says they have growth plans "down the track".