Owning and running a craft shop is a pipe dream for many people. The difference with Jessie Mann is she actually followed through. “I started The Handmade Market Place originally as a pop-up shop,” Jessie says. “It was only supposed to be for a month. I had no retail experience, no desire and definitely no plan.”
But Jessie says the Kilmore community responded so well she decided to keep going. Two years on and The Handmade Market Place has more than doubled in size, moving to a beautiful, light filled store at 26 Sydney Street.
A former pharmaceutical lab scientist, Jessie made a major career and tree change four years ago. Originally from Melbourne, she is also a qualified naturopath who manufactures her own skincare product, Modern Day Earth Mama. Jessie also blends herbal teas and cooks healthy take-away food, which is available at the shop.
Although The Handmade Marketplace was started by Jessie, it’s the collaboration of up to 60 people that makes it what it is.
The store features the work of up to 60 artisans with 85 per cent of stock made locally. From jewellery, to scarves, knitwear, kitchen goods, candles and clothes, the Handmade Market Place is not simply a place; it is a place to meet, make and connect.
“The community of Kilmore have really got behind me. They want to see it succeed,” Jessie says.
Long term, Jessie’s vision is exciting: she would like to open a sustainable café in-store, and open a second shop in a nearby town. But the most rewarding thing is watching the micro businesses grow. “People grow here,” Jessie says. “It’s a place where everyone wins.”