Taking baby love to market

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Market organisers Veronika Cox and Adam Charif with two-year-old Madelyn… they attend every market welcoming customers, talking with stallholders and handing out showbags. Photo by Gary Schafer
Market organisers Veronika Cox and Adam Charif with two-year-old Madelyn… they attend every market welcoming customers, talking with stallholders and handing out showbags. Photo by Gary Schafer
WHEN they had their daughter Madelyn, journalist Veronika Cox and her partner Adam Charif discovered just how much stuff the average baby goes through.

“We realised there’s a constant supply of pre-loved baby goods in fantastic condition floating around at any given time,” she says.

While connecting with other new mums, she says she found that a lot of them were busy making and selling items or running small businesses in their spare time.

It inspired Veronika, 33, to start the Muddle Puddle Market, which combines pre-loved baby items with handmade items, and for which she’s been nominated for an AusMumpreneur Award.

She has also started the Canberra Baby & Beyond Expo, which will next month bring together more than 100 exhibitors from around the country.

“Without a market like Muddle Puddle, you wouldn’t know about these businesses, and I love that I’m creating a place where they can all come together and promote themselves,” she says.

Once she had the idea for the market, the rest fell into place, she says, when she connected online with around 250 people who were keen for a stall.

The first market in November was such a success – stalls sold out in less than two hours – that Veronika now runs one every month, in various locations, and organises each one from home.

“Being organised with a little one at home is still a bit of a work in progress,” she says. “I try to have very set times where I work, but more often than not, I’m up working later after Madelyn has gone to bed.

“Each month involves sorting through applications and making sure there is an eclectic mix of stalls.

“We try to announce each event about a month in advance. This means I’m not trying to juggle multiple events at once, and also means people can only book one or two markets at a time – which is important as the market is constantly growing, and we love to be able to offer space to brand new businesses at each one.

“I also organise a promotional campaign for each event, and source new venues and locations for the market.”

Veronika says her main focus is to provide a friendly atmosphere.

“Muddle Puddle is such a part of me – so much love and care goes into planning each event, working to maintain flexibility for stallholders, which is super important when so many have little ones of their own, and gaining new customers, that it has always been an incredibly personal event,” she says.

As a mum to a busy toddler – who the markets are named after, as Madelyn is “enthusiastic about splashing in puddles!” – Veronika says she’s understanding about the issues that come with being a stallholder and a mum.

“These mums are doing an amazing job just being there, let alone creating all the things they do,” she says.

“We’re very flexible – we have to be! With kids, anything can happen,” she says.

Veronika and Adam attend every market, and are the ones welcoming customers, talking with stallholders and handing out showbags at the front doors.

“The atmosphere, mostly thanks to the warm, genuine nature of our stallholders, has been the most delightful thing to experience, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

“I love that feeling that another market is just around the corner.”

The first Canberra Baby & Beyond Expo is at the AIS Arena, 9am-3pm, over the September 27-28 weekend.

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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist with a particular interest in homes and gardens.

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