Kim Kraemer is the owner of Marketspace Vendor Events, a business based in New Jersey that organizes popup handmade markets in the Tri-State area. With a network of 1,600 vendors, Marketspace partners with venues like wineries or rented storefronts to create special events featuring tailored artisan markets.
Why did you start your business?
My husband and I both had careers working in the city and commuting. After we left work and put the kids to bed, we had a small Etsy shop where we were crafting growth charts for children. We started branching out into in-person events. They weren’t organized well and they didn’t have the artists in their best interest. My husband turned to me and said, “You could do this. You could run these events.” I’ve always been very organized. I love working with people – I have an HR background and customer service experience. Being an artist and having that unique perspective, I thought I could run the events with the artists’ interests at heart. So, I shifted gears and started Marketspace.
How did you fund the business at the start?
When we started, I wanted to be really smart and not have a lot of overhead costs. I had savings that I used to get my business and my name registered to get off the ground.
Running the Business
How do you manage cash flow?
We rely on our website to track all the money that comes in. We’re pretty diligent about taking a look at the money coming in and what the expenses will be for the next 6-12 months. We don’t want to spend anything beyond what we have. We negotiate rental fees so that they are affordable and make sense for us and for our artisans.
What’s the most challenging thing about running the business?
I’m not recreating the wheel. I’m doing something that other people are doing. I have a different philosophy of how I’d like to run my business. We pride ourselves on that. For example, we book our vendor list for an event and want to make sure that no two vendors are similar.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running the business?
The most rewarding thing is making friendships with like-minded businesspeople that want to get their name out there. It’s great to partner with people who are networking-savvy and want to promote each other. I can only be successful if the vendors have a good experience with me and spread the word. They know that I’m there and my heart is in it. It’s great to create friendships and build a community around something I’m passionate about.
What I’ve Learned
What’s the biggest mistake you made when you were starting out?
I don’t consider them mistakes, but pivot points. It’s so essential with any startup to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. When something doesn’t work, you need to change it so it is in line with what you want it to be. We started out having a wider variety of vendors in our markets. We’ve tailored it more because certain types of handmade vendors are contributing more to the vision that I have for the business. Also, we’ve made changes based on the feedback we’ve gotten from our venues and shoppers. When we really fine-tune and tailor events, it gives them a better feel. As much as I’d love to have all businesses be a part of my market, I have to make it a good experience for everyone and really tailor it down to be very specific handmade vendors.
What’s the smartest thing you did when you were starting out?
Not spending beyond our means. And, also, knowing that my relationship with the vendors is the most important because they are the ones who are going to spread the word about my company.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Take advantage of social media. Work on promoting your business and find other people who are in the business who might have tips for you. Find someone with a unique perspective that you can talk with to learn what has worked and what hasn’t. It’s also important to constantly gage feedback. I send a survey to all my vendors after each event so I can learn how to improve for the next time.
What’s next for Marketspace Vendor Events?
We just passed our one-year anniversary. We have over 1,600 followers on Facebook and 1,800 on Instagram. We are leading up to the holidays, which is our busiest season. This year, we are debuting an outdoor, tented, heated German-style Christmas market at The Red Mill Museum Village in Clinton, New Jersey.
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