COLLECTION OF CREATIVES
THE HEARTWARMING STORY BEHIND A MUCH-LOVED COAST MARKET: THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS ALONG THE WAY AND ITS SPECIAL MARK ON THE COMMUNITY
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.
“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.”
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.