Yearning for copious cash, Natalie Voorheis translated her creative abilities and eye for a bargain into a stall at the Dublin Flea Market
Money. Glorious cash, light of my life! Provider of overpriced coffee, unending credit, lavish nights out, new phone, new haircut, new laptop, new car, seasonal wardrobe, sun holidays, concert tickets and whatever else my heart desires. Oh wait, that’s right, I’m a student.
Right so, scrap all of that and replace with cracked screen Nokia, Tesco value rum and an age-old bicycle with flat tyre, no breaks and mind of its own. I was brought up on the famous seanfhocail: “Is fearr an tsláinte ná na táinte,” meaning health is better than wealth. I had never thought to question my resolute adherence to this phrase until the year I began UCD when my belief in its practicalities began to wane.
Due to the pressure of mountainous student bills, I’ve tried my hand at numerous jobs over the years. I’ve worked as a waitress, telephone operator, sales assistant, babysitter, house-sitter, dog-walker, food promotions girl, legal secretary, dance teacher, choreographer, corporate dancer, unqualified hairdresser for my nearest and dearest and more.
All and all it’s been completely rubbish and at €8.65 an hour, just not worth it. I’ve had my fill tidying tables and always under the watchful eye of some demanding manager or other. There is, however, no getting away from the pressing matter of money, cash is king and I’m a stuck in the role of courtier.
Whilst having a grumble about the above in The University Observer office recently, the o-two editor saw an opportunity to create some havoc and challenged me to an o-two Attempts. Get rich fast, or die trying.
Teaming up with my best friend Bríd Doherty, we took our first steps down the road of becoming self-made women. Settling on a business model took little effort as it grew from the roots of a blog, which we jointly run.
We both sew and knit and the blog follows our attempts in the world of the handmade. We decided to translate this into a stall at the Dublin Flea Market, which hosts a huge event on the last Sunday of every month in Newmarket Square, where over sixty stall holders sell their retro wares. Our stall, we decided, would compose of handmade items and a selection of retro and vintage goods, all of a kitsch style and under the brand: Crafty Students.
Trekking around Dublin, we eventually sourced such items as a as a baby blue and cream record player from the ’60s, a number of beautiful vintage typewriters in a variety of styles and colours all in full working order and with their original carry cases. Not to mention a variety of oh-so-kitsch tea sets from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, a vintage, original Bush radios, a Soviet globe, some authentic cricket jumpers (which could not have been more preptastic!) and boxes of records and slates.
Getting our sewing machines, knitting needles and crafty brains out, we made floral hairslides and hairbands, preppy rosettes for blazers and bags, numerous lengths of decorative bunting in different styles and colours from sailor stripes to granny floral, hats and fascinators, knitted woolly scarves each decorated differently, make-up bags and pencil cases.
Spurred on, we even used decoupage to cover the entirety of a chair in vintage Beano comic strips and made housewife style aprons out of a pair of vintage curtains we had picked up.
The run up to the Flea was a time of extreme nerves for us both. With so much time, effort and money invested, the only option was for the day to be a success, but with no previous experience, we had no idea what the outcome would be. We began to promote wildly, on Facebook, our blog and through business cards but with a niggling fear that all those virtual “I’m attending”, promises on Facebook wouldn’t translate to reality.
On the day, our stock spilled over the edges of the table and engulfed the floor around us. To our relief, we were swamped with custom as hagglers argued over who had seen which tea set first and literally grabbed various typewriters, claiming them as their own.
Neither of us ate all day, not that we didn’t try to tuck into two massive falafel kebabs, but so constant was the flow of people that we were unable to take more than one or two bites. Reflecting that my favourite seanfhocail seemed to be taking ironic delight in my situation by furnishing the two of us with terrible flus, we fought on.
At one point, a frenzied bargain hunter seemed to be fussing over our stock more than anyone and I asked her if I could help. She subsequently revealed that she was a scout looking to source quality vintage stall holders for a new flea market she was setting up and pressed us to consider joining her.
The Monday after the flea, I marched into the Arts Café, now able to afford their over-priced coffee and saw a guy walking in the opposite direction proudly sporting one of our preppy cricket jumpers. Crafty Students had arrived. Roll on the good times!