MARISSA BOWDEN INTERVIEW | Co-founder of The Village Markets

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So Elke got chatting with Marissa Bowden, Co-founder of The Village Markets and Mother to two young cherubs, Stevie & Pepper.  TVM is a boutique creative market showcasing vintage goods and other interesting bits & bobs, brought to the front face by talented, local designers. Marissa and her business partner, Sarah Schoeller, strung together a series of stalls back in 2008, never expecting it to expand the way it has, now being labelled “the best boutique creative market on the Gold Coast”.  I love the boost of inspiration you get after talking to people like these two, telling their tale of the way they took off.  Not only did they crack it in the creative market but they have also managed to give the community a bit more character, whilst offering local designers a chance to show off their stuff. In her interview, Marissa chats about her Village Markets vision, how it unravelled and the constant juggle a working mother must learn to perfect in order to stay afloat.


What inspired you to start TVM?

Sarah (co-founder) and I would always chat about our love of vintage and designer markets we’d visited interstate and complain that there wasn’t a local event of this kind. We felt that at the time, the Gold Coast was lacking a regular cultural event that catered for our demographic (& shopping needs!). After much complaining, we decided to create our own event, in the form of a boutique style market showcasing only the best in emerging designer fashion, vintage, art and homewares. And so, The Village Markets was born.

What was the process you had to go through to turn your idea into a reality?

Once the initial idea was developed, it was around six months of planning and developing before the first market was held. Both Sarah and I have business marketing backgrounds, so we were able to develop our own business plan and met with the local Council and our chosen venue to share our vision. From here, there was plenty of marketing and sourcing of the right designers, collectors and artists we thought would be suited to our event. The first event was held in October 2008, we had only 9 stalls, and Sarah and I stood under a tree with clipboards asking people to sign up to our mailing list!

We’ve done everything ourselves from the start, from business plans, to development applications, marketing, PR, creative design, event management, setup and packdown, cleaning!  Almost 5 years on and we now host up to 100 stalls three times per month and in two different locations (Burleigh Heads 1st & 3rd Sundays & our new Paradise Point venue on the 4th Sunday), as well as a very healthy fan base, which includes over 24.5k fans on Facebook.

What were your main goals for the markets?

We simply wanted to create an awesome, regular fashion and lifestyle focused event for the Gold Coast and also provide somewhere for talented locals to showcase their talent. We wanted it to be a laid back environment, where people could go not only to shop for amazing unique items, but also to meet up with family and friends on a Sunday morning and hang out.  It was really important to us that TVM would be a very encouraging and positive environment for our stallholders, a place they love coming to, not just somewhere to sell their wares.

Was Stevie born before or after you started the markets?

She was born almost 3 years into TVM, she’s become quite the little market baby with so many of our gorgeous stallholders spoiling her with presents and coming to say hello when she visits! It’s been so lovely to share my journey as a mum with our stallholders, because some have been coming since the very beginning and have seen me go through two pregnancies now.  They are the loveliest, most talented bunch of people and I truly love hanging out with them at each event.

Do you ever struggle to keep on top of your work responsibilities as well as your responsibilities as a parent?

Yes, very often! It’s always a juggle. I try to work around the girls sleep times, which are often unpredictable! Stevie goes to kindy one day per week and my mum also helps me one day per week. At the moment it is a challenge as Pepper is only 8 weeks old, but I am managing to fit work in where I can. My amazing husband Rick looks after the girls on market days and they all come to hang out with me at some point.

Now that you have set up TVM, what does your work consist of..behind the scenes?

Loads of emails!! Sorting through and responding to applications is a large part of it. As well as communication with stallholders, media, site planning etc etc. Prior to Peppers birth I was also doing some marketing consulting but at the moment, with the two girls keeping me very busy, TVM is more than enough.

How are you finding motherhood?

I love it so much! There really is nothing better and I’m pretty sure it’s the best job in the world, I feel so lucky.

….Obviously there are some days that end with a big fat glass of wine or two, but there are far more amazing days that certainly make it all worth while!

Was it challenging to work whilst you were pregnant and caring for a toddler? and then balancing it with both a newborn and a toddler at home?

Ah, yes! The second pregnancy was way harder, I was so tired towards the end and with a super active little girl by my side every day, and work to be done, there was no time to rest! Stevie sleeps for about 2-3 hours at lunch time, so this was my work period and then anything else had to be done at night.

Are you happy with how far the markets have come?

Absolutely. We started TVM with no expectations at all, just a little side project to give us somewhere unique to shop for cool clothes of a weekend. I couldn’t be happier with how far they have come.

Have you got any future plans for TVM?

Yes of course! We are always planning.

What would you say is your biggest struggle in life right now?

Trying to find time to have a shower, wash my hair and make lunch, ha! Seriously, it is super tricky with two babies!

What are you feeling most thankful for with regards to your life right now?

Everything! I really am so lucky.

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Photography | Jenna Agius  & Joel Stafford

Interview | Sophie Gidoomal

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