Carrying on the series of conversations with people who inspire Gather & Co I caught up with Ainsley Gray, founder of Mama Meet & Market ahead of this weekend’s first foray into Birmingham.

You can follow Ainsley and Mama Meet & Market on Instagram.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how Mama Meet & Market began?

My background is visual merchandising, something I’ve loved doing up until earlier this year when I handed my notice in to concentrate on Mama Meet & Market. My husband and I have two young children and we live in the Midlands.  I’ve always loved shopping but when I had my little boy four years ago I started to shop more from independents and small businesses. I loved supporting them and finding unique wares that you just couldn’t buy on the high street. I used to share my finds on Instagram and my account grew and grew. I never really set out to be a serious blogger/influencer and I started to get swamped with collab opportunities. That’s when I came up with the idea of hosting a family market Mama Meet & Market – a way of supporting and promoting the small brands that I love and connecting them with my followers in real life.

What are your plans for Mama Meet & Market?

The First Mama Meet & Market was hosted in Derby in 2017 with 25 exhibitors and at the last event there were over 90. The Mama Meet & Market on Sunday at the Custard Factory is our first event outside of Derby but my aim is to have a residency in a few more locations in due course – one a bit more north, one a bit more south.  The plan is to build on the showcase the markets have become – fashion shows, panel talks, parenting hacks.

What are the ups and downs of organising your own market?

You can get the best brands on board, put in all the hours and you can style the event beautifully but the night before I will always worry – will we get the people through the doors!? Thankfully feedback has always been so overwhelmingly positive and we have families and brands coming back again and again – even the bigger brands like Mama Designs. Visitors always comment that the atmosphere is amazing and how it’s become its own welcoming little community. I’m so proud of the supportive hub that Mama Meet & Market has become.

And finally what do you like to gather?

I love to gather photobooks! Memories that we can look through together of our travels and adventures.

The Mama Meet & Market is taking place at The Custard Factory, Digbeth on Sunday 22nd September and open from 11 – 4pm.

Gather & Co will be exhibiting alongside 85 other independent design led brands including Anay and Jay,  A is for Alice, A Tribe Well Dressed, BowbeausCraftlyFerrar Design, House of HurrahMama Designs, West Stanton, Pop & Punch, PopsidaisickleMama Shack Baby, Mathias & Locke, Mama and MaxGemini GiftsIvy Oak Design, Jammie Doodles, Little Writing CompanyHandmade Scandi Company, Grizzli BearMoonies, How Brave is the Wren Stripe and WildUp To No Good, Patch Kid Co, Punks and ChancersMaxy & Moz, Or Kids Boutique, Small StoriesTayler & Hugo, Ottie and Tottie Sisi & SebLes Petits Felix, We Are Pop, My Bags of Stuff, The Pigeon and the Wolf and Worn By Littles.

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