The Big Tent as it's becoming known is not a new idea; the idea of collective working is as old as the hills and whilst many love the principle the reality of making it work is often where it goes awry, usually because the intention or ethos is slightly unclear. So hopefully this will explain some of the gaps and the intended time frame or outcomes as we have to call them when dealing with external funders. For those that don't know I used to be a community worker before retraining as a teacher and I have a lot of experience setting up groups, whether independent traders or not for profit community groups but the core elements have to be there: intention or reason for existing, governance to steer along that intended path, vision to see it and perseverance to maintain it. I have always believed in grass roots change for lasting change rather than imposition from above, we make the change we want to be part of. And, you also need amazing people behind you, one person alone defeats the entire object of something like this so yes I might be the noisy one going oii this is bloody ace but there HAS to be a team as no one individual is bigger than the whole. Years ago I remember telling groups my first priority is to make myself redundant and they didn't get it, what I meant was if you still need me to steer a community group then it either hasn't worked or I've engineered myself into being necessary and both are very wrong within that setting.
The rationale: many of us sell, make, offer services or put on events and due to Covid more and more of the world is online now but it's flipping hard on your own. You have to be your own web builder, marketeer, maker, accountant blah blah blah and it's a range of skills that somehow we're expected to have but it's incredibly unrealistic to think that they each lie within an individual. So - why not create a one stop shop where you either as a maker can access these services or as a buyer have a happy browse in your pjs and find amazing and different sellers around the UK. Also, for those that don't want to or can't spend hours on social media promoting yourself as a team we can direct traffic to the group and help everyone.
The other key aspect that will make us different is the people friendly aspect. We genuinely don't care if you identify as LGBTQ+, a witch, a reiki healer, a Domme or just plain potty - all we care about is that you enter into it with an open mind, no judgement of others and play nicely and share! Some make products that sit across many markets and it's rather tiresome to be told oh that blue painting is acceptable but those earrings aren't because some might be offended. Here's the thing, the world is full of people that could get offended by a paperclip and it's a little tiring somedays so we're ditching the policing of what you sell - obviously there are legal things we have to cover like knives can't be sold to minors but you get the idea. But for the most part, sell what you want! Do what you want, be who you want - as long as you play nice within the wider group as that's the whole point - everyone is welcome.
The other key difference is flat fee, I've been on these sites where you pay a monthly fee and then suddenly you get hit with a % for listing an alternative, a % of transaction fee etc etc so that when the £1.34 hits your account you think really???? I spent two hours listing for that??? So yes, a flat fee - no hidden extras, no weird % because it's a Tuesday or we're running a special on cat biscuits that week!
To begin with, yes it will be small and no it won't have the functionality of the bigger players BUT what we have is passion and that counts for a lot more than a corporate bank balance. The intention is that within six months there will be a fully functional website that rivals the big players so that suddenly we ARE the big player and we are a community of sellers, makers, event hosts, bloggers, service providers and the list is endless and essentially shaped by those involved. I just happen to be the one with the laptop going yeah we can do this!
So, if you are interested in a people friendly, non judgemental new way to engage with other likeminded and have a giggle - come along for the journey!