Jess Hazel.

This week I went and nosed around the possessions of fellow Spitalfields stallholder and dear friend Jess Hazel. Jess works at Spitalfields selling homewares and at Brick Lane selling clothes. You can look at her wares here and here. I wanted to ask her about her experience of being a toot person and working on markets, because I'm interested - maybe you are too. If so, here's what she said:PhotobucketI originally moved to london to work in the music industry: just as the recession hit unfortunately. I ended up having a string of badly paid part-time jobs in order to keep my journalism going on a freelance basis. My final job in the music industry put me off it all together - working as  a promoter at a venue in kilburn - it was really stressful, I was getting part-time pay for a full-time job and hating every minute of it. I ended up working in a vintage shop to tide me over, I was getting paid thirty pounds a day. My boss made the mistake of telling me all the boot sales he went to. I was seeing how much of a mark-up he was putting on things and I thought - I could just do that for myself.
I've always like going to car boot sales and vintage shops and someone I knew was putting on a vintage fair so I decided I was going to do a stall. I got quite excited about it: I made some jewellery out of dolls house china, found lots of vintage tree decorations and a rail of clothes - I had hardly anything. Then I went and did it . . . and it was a complete disaster! I didn't even make stall rent. It was a really quiet event and I felt really sorry for the girl who'd put loads of work into putting it on. It could've easily put me off but I think I got the bug: I then wanted to do another one.
From there I did a day at brick lane - I'd been there once and thought it would be the best place to sell vintage. I had to share a stall for a while with a friend, I had a little shop in camden stables market as well - which i shared with two other friends - and I was still working part time. It took me about a year of sharing and doing other jobs, making everything very complicated, before I could cut all my ties and concentrate on doing it on my own. There was a period of time where it was really touch and go and i was living hand-to-mouth, but I got through it. It took me a long time to grow the stall - you have to learn what sells and get to know what kind of a stallholder you're going to be. Photobucket
Photobucket PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketI'm inspired by places I go - since I've been to india there's more of an ethnic influence in my stuff. I'm also inspired by a lot by other traders and what they pick. My stall is quite eclectic. Fashion-wise I like older stuff, interiors-wise I like to have a mix of older and newer. I can't properly describe what I like because I like trashy grungy stuff like ripped denim, then I like tacky Jesus figurines, then I also like primary colours and Bauhaus style bits and pieces.  That's why I quite like doing two different stalls - they reflect different sides of my personality.
My Brick Lane stall evolves as new fashions come in - even though I wouldn't be inclined to go for pastel colours that's what's really in at the moment so I'm having to train my brain to look for things that are powder lemon. It's confusing and you don't actually see many people wearing what's 'in' - you read it in the magazines but people still come to Brick Lane in Ugg boots and jeans. Within vintage stuff there are staples that will always sell like Levis jean shorts, tassley leather jackets, nice leather boots, stuff which will stand the test of time. People are always going to like fifties tea dresses, as long as their a nice print and not too crazy.
You definitely have to detach yourself from things in this job otherwise you end up keeping everything. It's a good way of throwing yourself into the car boot lifestyle without becoming a crazy hoarder. I try to be good: I let myself have a thing every week, a treat, something I'll buy from another trader or something from my stock that I'll decide to keep. Sometimes I think I don't treat myself enough - there's no excuse not to have interesting stuff when you're doing this job.
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket PhotobucketThere's so many people trading in vintage - go to any jumbles and boot sales in london and you'll see twenty other traders there so you have to be inventive about what you sell. What struck me most when I started was how nice everyone was, I was expecting it to be quite competitive but from the first day people helped me out and made me feel welcome. I've made some really good friends - that's what I'd really miss if I decided just to sell online or have a shop. I really like the social aspect, especially at Spitalfields there are so many interesting characters around; everyones a bit batty on their own way. I think it's those people who don't adapt to having a normal job or a normal life end up doing the market. It's interesting how different stalls can be; how people choose to represent themselves.
I think that before, when I had office jobs, I was just pretending that I liked it because that's what I thought you should do as an adult. So I'm glad I've  found this - it makes sense to me - it's simple and I love being in charge of my own time. I like that what I do is environmentally friendly - it's recycling and I like that every piece is a one-off that I'm not going to find again. Working early mornings and all the lugging does get quite hard. My energy levels get low quite easily so I have to be careful not to completely wear myself out. I think I might get too old for the markets after a while, then I might have to get a shop. But then again vintage stuff might go out of fashion: we'll just have to see how times change.

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