Life & Style Weekend - - BIG READ - WORDS: AN­NIE CAUGHEY

Do you feel like you be­long to a tribe?

You know, that feel­ing you get when you fi­nally meet a group of in­di­vid­u­als whose pas­sions align per­fectly with your own?

Per­haps you’re in search of that con­nec­tion.

Well, what­ever it is that you’re look­ing for, maybe your happy place is at the Sunshine Coast Col­lec­tive Mar­kets, where hun­dreds of lo­cal cre­ators, crafters and col­lec­tors have found their own special fam­ily.

Each mar­ket is like a trea­sure hunt: you never know what you might find, from hand­made jew­ellery crafted from clay to macrame hang­ing pots and hand­painted prints.

None know the mar­ket bet­ter than Kelsey and Matt Cheetham, who re­cently pur­chased it as their own.

While their official ti­tle of own­ers may be new, the cou­ple’s his­tory with the mar­ket dates back to its very be­gin­ning.

Af­ter found­ing their own con­tent cre­ation and mar­ket­ing busi­ness, Kelsey and Matt stum­bled across an op­por­tu­nity to be­come in­volved with the promotion of the event dur­ing its early days.

“Me and my hus­band really wanted to branch out and find a way to sup­port small busi­ness be­cause our pas­sion was sup­port­ing other peo­ple who were chas­ing their dreams,” Kelsey said.

“So we came up with the little idea to man­age In­sta­gram sites for busi­nesses and as­sist them with con­tent cre­ation.”

This was how the cou­ple first met Jo Host, the founder of the mar­ket, which at the time was op­er­at­ing as the Mooloolaba Col­lec­tive Mar­kets.

What started out as a client re­la­tion­ship soon grew into a fam­ily-like bond.

“She hired us to help her with In­sta­gram and mar­ket­ing. This was just af­ter the first mar­ket, so we pretty much were there from the start,” Kelsey said.

“Be­cause we had only just started our own busi­ness and Jo was only the sec­ond client we ever had, we spent a lot of time in­vest­ing into the mar­ket. We really wanted to learn ev­ery­thing about it, so we could help it grow.

“We found we got at­tached to it really quickly.”

Matt and Kelsey had worked closely with Jo through ev­ery step of the mar­ket’s growth in those first few years, so when fam­ily is­sues arose caus­ing Jo to take a step back, Matt and Kelsey be­came the ob­vi­ous choice to en­trust

the busi­ness to.

They were loyal to her brand, loved it as she did and, most im­por­tantly, they un­der­stood the vi­sions she had for its fu­ture.

Be­fore long, Matt and Kelsey took over the reins as mar­ket man­agers.

Af­ter what Kelsey refers to as the “mar­ket tour days” when it moved lo­ca­tion to both Buderim and Ma­roochy­dore be­fore find­ing its for­ever home in Coolum, the mar­ket strug­gled to re-es­tab­lish it­self within its new com­mu­nity.

“The move to Coolum was really hard on us. We couldn’t find a spot. It was hard on the stalls be­cause they didn’t know where we were and it was hard for cus­tomers to know where to go. We suf­fered a mas­sive drop,” Kelsey said.

How­ever, amid the strug­gle, Kelsey and Matt learnt a valu­able les­son: that any­thing is pos­si­ble if you have a loyal and sup­port­ive com­mu­nity back­ing you.

“Today my big­gest feed­back from new stall­hold­ers is that they feel like they are join­ing a fam­ily,” Kelsey said.

“I feel part of that is be­cause our mar­ket had gone through all those chops and changes.

“The core group of stall­hold­ers that stuck with us, it made them own the mar­ket.

“It made them stand up and say, ‘This is what we want to be a part of, we are go­ing to fight for this, we are go­ing to be a part of this com­mu­nity and we are go­ing to help build it’.”

One of those stall­hold­ers is Melinda Hall, of Tootzzi Jew­ellery: a mar­ket favourite and close friend of Matt and Kelsey.

Melinda cre­ates hand­made jew­ellery pieces con­structed from poly­mer clay in all dif­fer­ent shapes, colours and pat­terns.

As a ven­dor at mul­ti­ple mar­kets across the coun­try, she, too, be­lieves there is some­thing special about the Sunshine Coast Col­lec­tive Mar­kets. Some­thing she can’t quite put her fin­ger on.

“Out of all of the ven­dors who I’ve got­ten to know really well, there’s one really unique thing about this mar­ket,” Melinda said.

“We all are mates, we all thrive off each other’s suc­cesses, we’re sup­port­ive and I think we are all equally in­spired.

“It’s quite a unique thing. It’s a real tribal at­mos­phere be­tween ven­dors at this mar­ket.

“The Sunny Coast is still at a size where you know peo­ple.

“It’s not a small town and it’s not a big city but in the time that I’ve been at the col­lec­tive, I’ve de­vel­oped quite a fol­low­ing.

“There’s a greater de­sire and sup­port for peo­ple to find things that are made in their own neigh­bour­hood.”

As a busy mum of two and busi­ness owner, Kelsey be­lieves the col­lec­tive mar­ket is unique be­cause it offers lo­cals a place to be­long.

It’s a com­mu­nity that is sup­port­ive, en­cour­ag­ing and in­no­va­tive and it re­minds peo­ple of “how big the world is”.

“I think as a cul­ture and as a gen­er­a­tion, there is a move­ment of peo­ple want­ing to know where their stuff comes from and shop­ping lo­cal,” Kelsey said.

“Yeah, it may mean pay­ing maybe that next price bracket up but knowing the story be­hind that prod­uct is why it’s im­por­tant to all of us.

“For my fam­ily, it’s really im­por­tant for us to have this in our lives be­cause it really con­nects us with our com­mu­nity.

“But also it re­minds me that no mat­ter what stage of life you’re in, there’s al­ways room for you to be creative or try some­thing new.”

The Sunshine Coast Col­lec­tive Mar­ket runs on the 2nd and 4th Sun­day of each month at Coolum State Pri­mary School from 8.30 am to 12.30 pm.

There is live mu­sic, an ar­ray of lo­cally pro­duced food stalls and Coolum roasted cof­fee.


LEFT: Melinda Hall, of Tootzzi Jew­ellery. RIGHT BOT­TOM CORNER: Kelsey and Matt Cheetham with son Olly. OTHER PHO­TOS: Var­i­ous stall ven­dors and shop­pers at the Sunshine Coast Col­lec­tive Mar­kets.

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