Scotland’s flourishing design sector fuels leading events platform

11/06/2024
Kelvingrove Market

AS THE city marks its 10th year as UNESCO City of Design, Dundee jeweller Joanne MacFadyen (40) of Tea Green Events is celebrating a decade in business by holding a record 20 markets across Scotland, driven by increased demand from independent makers and the public.

Specialising in carefully curated markets within some of Scotland’s most stunning creative spaces, Tea Green Events has also secured its first venue in the capital. To facilitate the growth and expand her networks further, Joanne is opening her first dedicated studio, based within the creative hub of Dundee’s Meadow Mill.

Originally from East Kilbride, Joanne graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in 2010 and launched Tea Green Events in 2014. Although immersed in and heartened by the city’s growing creative community, Joanne had observed a lack of events for local designers to showcase and sell their creations. 

Holding her first market at the Glasgow School of Art Student Union, Joanne curated and ran the ‘Design Superstore’ during the 2019 Dundee Design Festival at the Keiller Centre. Later that year, she secured her ‘dream location’ of V&A Dundee, where she now holds bi-annual markets attracting around 5,000 visitors and around 80 makers each weekend.    

This year, to mark a decade in business,  20 Tea Green Events will be held, compared to 13 in 2023. While making their debut in the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, markets will also return to both Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, the latter attended by a staggering 9.5K people last winter.  Outwith the central belt, markets will also return to Aberdeen Art Gallery and Bowhouse in St Monans, Fife and V&A Dundee.

Joanne said, “When starting out in my career, I was surrounded by talent but also aware of the lack of curated markets where designers can showcase their goods. I wanted to provide a platform for other artisan makers in Scotland within stunning creative venues that could add to the experience.  These premium products, from jewellery and knitwear to prints and pottery, are ‘wow!’ moments in themselves, so they deserve a fitting backdrop. 

“Securing V&A Dundee as a venue was a real game-changer and, while it remains very much our home venue, we started to see demand from hundreds of makers across the country. In that time, the retail sector was also changing. While there is less disposable income around, we’re seeing more conscious consumers making mindful and considered purchases. They may be buying less but choosing to focus on quality, hand-crafted products.

“As someone who’s determined to champion Scotland’s creative talent, it heartens me to see so many people supporting our exhibitors, especially against the challenging climate we are all working in. Buying from independents isn’t transactional; it’s emotional and personal. People want to connect, discover how and where goods are made, and hear the designer’s story.”

Christian Moire, Director of Operations at V&A Dundee, said, “V&A Dundee send a hearty congratulations to Tea Green Events on their 10 years in business.  Tea Green is a fantastic entrepreneurial success story, consistently championing independent designers and makers, and we are extremely proud to have worked in partnership with Joanne and her team over the past five years whilst the business has grown. We are looking forward to hosting two Tea Green Design Markets at V&A Dundee in July and November, with additional activity to be announced later in the year.”

Meanwhile, Annie Marrs, Lead officer of UNESCO City of Design Dundee, added, “Joanne’s work and the popularity of her markets demonstrate the vibrancy of Scotland’s design sector and showcase our collective wealth of talent. The markets also create a high-quality, trusted space that helps these businesses thrive and flourish by connecting them directly with customers. It’s also particularly special for Tea Green Events to celebrate their 10th anniversary, just as UNESCO City of Design Dundee celebrates 10 years of the designation.”

Samantha Paton of Dundee-based fashion house Isolated Heroes, who is attending almost all of the Tea Green Events markets this year, added, “Tea Green markets have become central to our sales strategy, allowing us to position our brand to a truly engaged audience within beautiful spaces and with minimal overheads. Joanne is doing an amazing job at getting the creative community together and shaping highly curated events where you know the quality will be good. People tell us they’ve saved up to come along and, on the run-up to Christmas, plan to get most of their shopping done that day or weekend. Because the environment is event-based, people are excited to attend and support local designers, something you don’t always get within a pop-up shop on the high street or a shopping centre.

“Joanne is making a huge contribution to Scotland’s creative community.  Independent makers and designers don’t just want a market to sell at – they want a community, a chance to meet and mingle with others and even spark new collaborations, whatever stage they’re at.”

For more information about Tea Green Markets, visit https://www.teagreen.co.uk/

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