At the start of 2020 I was doing a job that I loved and was lucky enough to be starting to reap the benefits of working in the travel industry, with lots of trips lined up. However, from previous travel with work, I had swiftly learnt that my hand-luggage sized suitcase was definitely not sufficient. So, in February, just before my first trip of the year, I decided to upgrade my suitcase. Little did I know, this would actually be my first and only time abroad this year.
My new suitcase, however, was not a wasted purchase. It may not have been packed with an array of outfits to cater for trade shows, meetings and client events, but it was certainly still packed. My trusty, extra-light suitcase was now full to the brim with wrapping paper, baubles, phone cases, cards, prints and paintings galore! How else was I meant to transport everything to the London markets that I’d suddenly found myself doing?
I’d always wanted to experience having a market stall - there’s something so friendly about being able to chat to locals about your work - but with a full time job and lots of travel, I never had the time to produce the stock, let alone actually get around to doing the research and applying. So, when I had finally established Grace Olivia and developed a range of products, I took the leap and signed up for Old Spitalfields Market.
Starting to do London markets was definitely daunting. Each one has its own way of operating and its own group of regulars. But having my trusty suitcase and the reassurance that all my stock was stacked like tetris inside it, I always felt a bit more confident turning up at a new spot and setting up my stand.
If you’d said to me in February, or even March this year, that I would be where I am in December, I would’ve laughed and probably responded with a sarcastic comment. But actually, whilst it’s been a journey, and a difficult one at times, this year has led me to achieve things that I always said I would do ‘one day’, with the knowledge that that day would most likely never come.
My suitcase is yet to travel around the world as originally planned, but it’s definitely made tracks in London. I’ve never been more grateful for such an innocent and, on reflection, optimistic purchase.