In Make It At Market, artisans spend time at a bucolic retreat making the things they’ve been passionate about, and may even make some money doing. But the goal here is to turn these hobbies into legitimate businesses that they hope to do full time.
MAKE IT AT MARKET: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
Opening Shot: As we see people crafting things, host Dominic Chinea intones, “We’re a nation of talented makers. But turning our passions into profit isn’t easy.”
The Gist: To help the makers, Chinea pairs each artisan up with a mentor who is already running a successful business in a similar medium. They are not only there to give them advice about making their product more marketable to the public, but also suggestions on revenue streams, packaging, marketing, and more.
In the first episode, Dea, a willow weaver, and Gemma, a fluid painter, bring their wares to what Chinea calls “my marquee,” which is a big tent. Each is asked to do a high-volume piece that they can do steadily and be able to charge a modest price, then they’re asked to bring in a high-end piece they made at home, which is made with high-end materials and can go for a top price. Then they’re asked to make their “favorite piece,” one that they love to do, and then price it the way they think it should be priced.
After getting all of their advice, the artisans are given two months to take that advice and build their fledgling businesses; they then return to the “marquee” to report on what they’ve done and how much they’ve made.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Take Making It, strip away the competition part and the comedy, then graft on the business advice you would get on Shark Tank or The Profit, and you’ve got Make It At Market.
Our Take: One of the things that struck us while watching Make It At Market is that everyone on it is so nice. The advice is constructive and presented along with praise, and the makers take the advice in the spirit it’s given, because they’re so eager to make these hobbies into businesses. However much or little the artisans make in the two-month period between visits is celebrated, because they’ve taken the advice to heart.
It’s refreshing in the way that the Great British Baking Show and all the shows that have emulated it are; everyone pulls for each other, and criticisms are taken in the spirit of improvement.
One of the things we wonder about, though, is if these artisans are being given any advice, whether on camera or off, about how much they’ll really need to make to truly be considered a profitable business.
We ask based on our own experience; whenever we embark on a freelance writing project, we try to estimate how much time everything will take in order for us to see if the fee we’re being paid breaks down to a per-hour rate that’s worth our time. So when we saw that, for instance, Dea’s “high volume” piece — a beautiful trivet with a swirl pattern — took four hours to make and was priced at 50 pounds. That translates to 12.5 pounds per hour, and that doesn’t even account for the cost of materials. That doesn’t sound particularly profitable to us.
Then again, these people are just starting their businesses, and perhaps with this base of knowledge, they’ll be able to grow them by knowing which items are worth the price they’re charging and which aren’t. The numbers that the artisans give after two months won’t blow you away, but they’re a whole lot better than what most of them were making before coming on the show.
Sex and Skin: Unless you get all hot and bothered on a weaved laundry basket or a triptych of an ocean pattern, there’s nothing.
Parting Shot: A postscript shows where each artisan is seven weeks after filming ended.
Sleeper Star: We’ll give this to Dea and Gemma, because both do fantastic work. Dea, who had just been diagnosed with ADHD and ASD, wanted to teach her weaving techniques to neurodiverse students, which is a fantastic way to diversify her income and help people at the same time.
Most Pilot-y Line: If someone can tell us why Chinea calls that central tent “my marquee”, we’d appreciate it.
Our Call: STREAM IT. Make It At Market is a pleasant diversion for people who like to see artisans at work and try to guess how much their products could fetch on the open market.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.