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Handmade at the O2

by Emily

Beautiful Wooden Christmas Decorations by Crafty Lou on Folksy

Christmas is nearly here, and for us makers this is the busiest time of year. With the many craft fairs and events that are on offer at the moment around the country, we try to partner with those that understand who we are, the way we like to work, and have the same dedication to craft and handmade as we do.

Last weekend we were really excited to be part of what was billed as one of the biggest and best events in the UK craft calendar: Handmade at the O2. A new event at the O2 in London, with promises of over 60,000 visitors, all being part of the capital’s Christmas build-up. Father Christmas, mulled wine, carol singers, and huge making tables for the kids were all going to be a part of Handmade at The O2’s inaugural event. It was a new venture, so we were all taking a risk, but their vision was clear and we were all looking forward to being a part of this great new Christmas event. We had invited families, friends and 70 of you had made the effort to be a part of what we had hoped was to be something new, something special, and importantly something that would be a big part of your christmas sales.

However, we came away on Sunday feeling disappointed. It was far from the magical Christmas Wonderland that we had been promised. We are currently in talks with Peninsular Events, the organiser of Handmade at the O2, to feedback on specifics that both we and the Folksy traders were unhappy with. James and I managed to speak with most Folksy traders over the weekend, but if we didn’t find you and you have something you’d like to tell us please do send us an email at support@folksy.co.uk with the subject “O2 Feedback”. We also encourage you to send your feedback to Clive at Peninsular at info@peninsulaexhibitions.com.

We understand that organising events and craft fairs can be difficult, but in the future we are going to be far stricter with partners on what we expect from a Folksy Partner, not just the facilities, but the style, the ambience and the general feel of the place.

As we move into the new year we will work as hard as you guys do, making sure that we work with the right people, in the right places, at the right times to give you the best service we can.

Merry Christmas, the Folksy team.


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Heather and Gary December 20, 2013 - 10:24 am

Thank you for picking up on this for all the disappointed sellers who had attended, as you will have noticed it has been commented upon in the forums here.

There are so many of these events happening at present where the only people prospering are the organisers who let down both the sellers and the attending public, this in turn has a knock on effect to the whole craft/art fair world.

Do hope you can obtain some answers, small sellers can always do with back-up.

Michelle December 20, 2013 - 4:53 pm

It really was such a huge let down. I think most sellers participate in craft fairs knowing there will be an element of risk, but this event was just doomed to fail from the start. The extreme lack of facilities (cash machines/toilets), expensive admission fees and over-exaggerated attendance figures made this the worst fair I have ever taken part in. Such a huge (expensive!) disappointment.

Clara smith December 20, 2013 - 9:05 pm

Very disappointed with the event. There was no WiFi coverage, and not even enough signal to support a mobile hotspot, so I couldn’t take card payments, despite being encouraged by the organisers to use izettle. Impossible to get any info or help from the organisers during the event, and very poor planning and communication re the breakdown of stalls at the end of the event. I didn’t manage to see anyone from folksy either, I came to the stand on three occasions, but there was no one manning it.

James December 29, 2013 - 10:32 am

Hi Clara, we were there for 5 hours on Saturday and 5 hours on Sunday but spent a lot of time talking to stallholders. Sorry we missed you.

Luisa Ansell December 20, 2013 - 9:31 pm

I couldn’t agree more. And when the mania of the next few days is over I too shall be putting in my complaint

Anna December 21, 2013 - 4:13 pm

Thank you for posting this. I think it’s important that crafters are aware of the issues. I had a stall and sent a polite e mail to Clive last Monday to let him know how disappointed I was in the fair and the reasons why. I have yet to receive a reply or even an acknowledgement. I paid by balance by PayPal and have raised an issue with them. I see Clive managed to respond to them within the hour.
I really hope other crafters aren’t fooled into parting with so much cash for so little in return. Thank you Folksy for highlighting this issue and for dissociating yourselves from it as a sponsor.

Tracy Warner December 21, 2013 - 6:42 pm

Thank you so much Emily – I did send Clive an e mail as follows:-
I am not usually the type of person who will complain, but I have really been struggling this year with costs and starting up my little business. I came all the way from North Wales and I specifically asked you how many Glass stalls there would be as I could not really afford the expense if there were too many. There were at least 6 – which may not sound a lot but at this kind of event it was! I had to bring my own music as there was none – we were turned away from the loading bay 3 times on the set up day. We were at the furthest place they could find which we had to walk each morning. I never met any of the organisers, have no idea what they even look like! I know that there was a petition which we all signed and I would like the courtesy of a reply and a refund – as this Christmas I will not be able to afford to do anything as I did not even make up my petrol costs.
But have not heard a thing :-(

Sharon Dickinson December 21, 2013 - 7:35 pm

I was ill and could not go I had to work hard on myself not to worry about losing all that money.
Clive and Stephanie were sympathetic and said that I could have a stand at the April show which I thought was really kind but I had seen warning signs such as them not knowing how much money I owed and whether lights had been booked………..
I had been really looking forward to this event and felt gutted to miss it…………now it looks like I had a lucky escape and am extremely dubious about attending their spring event.
For those of us makers and crafters hailing from ‘North of Watford’ maybe there is a feeling that it all happens in London and we are missing out………………..perhaps that just is not the case.

Michaela Wrigley March 11, 2014 - 5:55 pm

There does seem to be a lot of this going on and not many people speaking up about it…….. mainly designer makers who do not have a BIG voice. I attended a show at Christmas in 2009 called Handmade In Britain in Bath where almost the same thing happened , the place was freezing it had a high entry cost and there was a free outdoor Christmas market just outside, which had mulled wine and entertainment etc. it did look good!! Hence no-one came into the craft fair it was like a ghost town, we (all the makers) asked the organisers to drop the entry fee to help us , they said no!! I lost loads of money that Christmas on the huge stall fee, B&B and travel at the time. Why are the organisers of these shows not held to account if things go wrong? and why do they have astronomical stall fees ? They( the organisers) are making their money either way sales or not, its just seems to be an exploitation of up and coming makers and should be spoken up about so well done Folksy for doing this. I wish I did.

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