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Time to reflect on the big HoHoHo

It was the season for twinkling lights, and the hustle and bustle of Christmas markets. Nestled in the merry chaos is my little haven – our Just Luv It eco-friendly gift stall. Here’s how a typical day at a Christmas market goes for us, and how we’re planning for next season already…

An early start…

As we set up our stall and the other traders begin to arrive, some familiar faces appear. We always meet for that pre-market discussion: how will the day go, and will the weather be kind? Always, of course, with a coffee and a bun…

We wait for the customers to trickle in, and plan our sales strategy for the day. Sometimes it was Howard and me on the stall all day, and sometimes we had some extra help…

Just Luv It’s Little Helpers

Howard and I both work full time at the moment, so on our busy weekends we called in JLI’s little helpers. A big thank you to Marcia, my best running buddy; my mum Sandra, who not only helps out at markets but knits the scarves for the duckies (handmade from recycled wire); and my friend Trish, who got completely thrown in at the deep end at Stowe House, and survived! Guess what – you are all booked for next year. Once a JLI Helper, always a JLI Helper!

The Sales Man …..

So………… the award for Top Sales goes to Howard! Or does it? My mum would say differently!

It’s a bit of an in-house joke about who the best JLI sales person is, and we have hours of good humoured banter. Neither Howard or myself are natural sales people, both having backgrounds in operational roles – but we are both so passionate about what we do, and just making that small difference with the beautiful stock that we sell. That seems to give us a whole range of sales talents we never knew we had!

The market comes alive, and so does the stall. We can’t wait to get that first sale, and there is an air of nervousness before it comes. The first wave of shoppers arrives, drawn to the vibrant colours, unique designs, and Howard’s natural sales patter! Conversations spark about sustainability, eco-conscious living, and the stories behind each product. We just love it when people feel drawn to special gifts that match their values, and that their recipients will love. The eco-friendly ethos that we love so much resonates with many others, and I also love telling them how they can recycle their candles – any candles! – at all of our concessions.

The Locations

We spend many an hour planning our Christmas market locations. Some are very firm favourites, such as Daventry Christmas Market, Lamport Hall, and we love a light switch-on! It sounds cheesy but a brass band playing, Santa on his sleigh, reindeers, mulled wine and the bustle of shoppers is such a great place to work. Even though it’s pretty cold at times, we are learning to dress accordingly.

A new favourite for the 2024 plan will be Stowe House Gardens. It was busy, festive and good fun!

Festive Tunes and Last-Minute Shoppers

As the afternoon sun begins to cast long shadows, the market is alive with festive tunes and laughter. Last-minute shoppers eagerly explore the stall, looking for that perfect eco-friendly gift. Each purchase is packed in recycled paper gift bags with compostable tags, so even the packaging aligns with our commitment to the environment. I’m always pleased to see the empty spaces appear on the tables  – it’s great that we’ve made lots of sales, but it also means we’ve played a positive part in some truly planet-friendly gifts this year.

Packing Up for Another Day

With the market coming to a close, we carefully pack away the remaining gifts. We are generally one of the last to leave, taking great care to pack it up safely. Even though it’s been a long day we have a buzz in our step: we have met some great people, shared a few laughs, met like-minded people who appreciate handmade, and had lots of compliments on our little business. It makes all the hours worthwhile. At the end of the day, we always feel a glow – we get home looking forward to a well-deserved GnT, and a review of the day, looking forward to the next one. Quite often if we have a two-day market we have to re stock and start again – but we do Just Luv It!

Running an eco-friendly business is more than a business venture; it’s a chance to inspire change, one sustainable gift at a time, and we just love that we’re part of that. We’ve already started planning for 2024 and have more ideas than time – but that’s me all over.

An Introduction to Howard and Me – and why we Just Luv It

Hobby to Passion.

I’m Andrea, the creator and founder of Just Luv It. You’ll already have guessed that I love beautiful gifts and homeware that are one-of-a-kind, good to the planet, and with a story to tell. So it’s only right that I share my story too, and a little bit about why I Just Luv what I do…

Let’s go back to the beginning: I grew up in the city but quickly fell in love with the countryside and the outdoors. It’s where I’m always happiest, out in the fresh air, surrounded by the beauty of our natural environment – but especially when I’m on horseback. I enjoyed all sorts of sport as I grew up, and anything that took me outdoors, but I particularly adored horses, riding, and caring for them. I started riding at eight years old, and I worked with horses for a couple of years after leaving school. I was a keen eventer until I retired from it in 2013. I’m more of an owner than a competitor now, and have a horse at events, but I do still ride and compete at dressage – in fact, I won a national dressage championship in 2023.

When the equestrian eventing stopped, I didn’t give up sports altogether; at the age of 48, I took up distance running. I ran first marathon in Loch Ness in 2019, and in 2021 completed the London Marathan something on my bucket list, and I’m very proud to have raised over £7k for a blood cancer charity with the support I’ve received. I like to give something back and support local charities and food banks recently donating to the British Legion.

I work as a senior manager for a large national organisation, and have been with the company for many years. But like many people, lockdown changed my perspective and I started Just Luv it initially as a hobby which has turned into a bit of an obsession.

Initially I thought about doing something around equestrian products, but I discovered a company whose ethos struck such a chord with me: the Recycled Candle Company. They exist to keep waste candle products out of landfill, and creating beautiful new products from them instead. Their practices and values inspired me to investigate other options for gifting on the same lines – beautiful products from businesses that do things ethically in the same way.

I knew that was where my true passion would lie, and when I decided to start Just Luv It, it had to tick all the boxes. It had to be a business that supports makers and communities: not sweatshop owners. A business that only buys sustainable, Earth-kind products: not more swathes of plastic to choke our environment. A business that offers pieces I would love to receive as a gift, and display proudly in my home. And this is the Just Luv It that I’ve built.

But it would not be here at all without my husband, Howard – he’s a vital part of the team! He’s by my side at every market and every pop-up, he helps me with the stock and has supported me from the beginning. Howards from Leeds, and he’s an engineer. Neither of us has a background in sales but Just Luv It has brought out the natural salesman in him. He especially loves our recycled garden birds and robins for sale, which he refers to as “spuggie’s ” (I think it’s a northern term!) – he loves to promote.

Howard makes sure there are always plenty of Spuggies in stock! He also takes care of our new website which we are both very proud of and spends hours uploading photos and new stock to it. Its very much a Team Burdett effort!

Come and meet us at one of our future events – we’ve always got something in the calendar. We’d love to meet you and show you how beautiful the Just Luv It products are – and the difference the sales make to the people who made them.

Howard with his favourite Spuggies and Duckie & Friends handmade from recycled wire I think he is quackers but I Just Luv him!!