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Getting to Know… Jennifer Harrison of My Kids Market NSW

Jennifer Harrison operates My Kids Market NSW, the premier market in the state to buy, sell and recycle quality preloved baby and kids goods. The market caters to all baby and kids needs from pregnancy and newborns to approximately seven years of age. Jennifer has been involved in the business since 2005, and in 2017 she had the opportunity to make it her own, which she has proudly done, with the goal of bringing back a community focus.
Tell us about yourself.
I am married with two boys, aged 13 and 18 years. I’ve lived in Sydney all my life. Prior to having children, I worked as a horticulturalist. After having my son, I was enjoying being a mum, doing a bit of bookkeeping for a friend, and then an opportunity arose to start working at the markets on Sundays which really suited me.
How did you come to get involved in My Kids Market NSW?
The original Baby and Kids Market started in Victoria in 2003 and the concept came to NSW soon after that. I attended my very first Baby and Kids Market in 2005 when my son was one year old and absolutely loved the concept. I met the organiser at one of the markets and we got chatting. She happened to ask me if I was interested in working with her and so I began working at two of her weekend markets. In 2008 the organiser approached me and asked if I would like to grow the markets within NSW. We opened Baby and Kids Markets in numerous locations in and around Sydney, Newcastle and on the Central Coast. Over time there were some changes to the name, ownership of the business, with some efforts to commercialise the concept. I remained involved throughout that time. In 2017 I had the opportunity to rebrand and continue the market – and that’s how My Kids Market NSW was born. I knew right away that I wanted to take the market back to the community level and that’s what I’ve been focused on doing.  
What kinds of things are bought and sold at the markets?
You can buy and sell just about everything for boys and girls at My Kids Market NSW, including baby and kids clothing, shoes, toys, books, prams, bikes, cots, high chairs, rockers and a large range of other nursery items. Our main goal is ensuring that all goods are sold are in excellent preloved condition, so we encourage stallholders to choose carefully when deciding on what items to sell at the markets.
The market primarily offers goods from pregnancy and newborns through to seven years of age. Items for older kids are welcome, but are not the primary focus.  
How does it all work?
The markets are held at quality indoor venues. There can be up to 70 stalls at each event, with approximately ten business stalls. For those wishing to sell their preloved items, the stall cost is $65. This includes a trestle table as well as insurance, so all you need to do is simply turn up on the day. The stall cost for local businesses is $120.
For sellers, it’s an opportunity to declutter those items that are no longer needed and, importantly, to recycle those unwanted items. Far too much ends up in landfill needlessly. You can reduce waste and earn good cash while doing so! You can even share a stall with a friend if you don’t have a lot to sell yourself. We provide extensive information on our website about hosting a stall including selling tips to make it a positive experience for you and the shoppers.
For local businesses that want to sell their new and handmade goods, it’s an ideal setting to connect directly with their target market. It’s great exposure for those businesses, which are allocated premium spots at the venue as well as promotional opportunities within our newsletter and on our Facebook page.
And for the shoppers, it’s an opportunity to enjoy big savings on quality, gently used preloved items. More than this, it can be a really fun morning out with the whole family including grandparents or if you prefer to leave your little ones at home with Dad, you can escape the chaos and come shopping with a girlfriend.
There is a $4 entry fee per adult which goes towards the running of the market. In addition to the stalls, there is always entertainment for the kids which varies from market to market and includes activities such as face painting, music and kids’ soccer.  
When are the markets held?
My Kids Market NSW runs at various times throughout the year across Sydney and its surrounds. The next Inner West date is Sunday 18 February from 9 am to 12 pm at Five Dock Leisure Centre. Mark your diaries! 
What excites you about the business?
I’m all for community, and I love chatting to new mums. The benefits to young families are huge, as you can save a fortune on great-quality items, and we all know how expensive it is setting up a nursery and raising a family. What I also love about my business is we’re doing our bit for the environment by encouraging recycling and not contributing to landfill.
The market began at a time when these kinds of goods were not bought online. But even with all the buying, swapping and selling that goes on these days online, I think there’s still tremendous value in being able to view, touch and select from a range of good-quality items and to get out in the community and meet others. It also saves time on all those futile enquiries, inconvenient pick-ups and pesky no-shows.
Tell us about the charity that you support.
I support Share the Dignity, a charity that collects and distributes sanitary items to women and girls in need. My Kids Market NSW is a collection point for the Dignity Drive, and I encourage the shoppers and stallholders at each of the markets to get involved by donating a pack of pads or tampons. I’m proud that we’ve been able to collect such large numbers of sanitary items for this worthy cause at our markets since 2017.
What advice can you offer mums wishing to start their own business?
First and foremost, you have to have a passion for the business – you have to love what you are doing in order to stay motivated. It’s also essential to ensure you have a good balance between your work and personal time. It’s very easy to get caught up in your work when you work from home. Define your work periods and stick to them. This is something I’ve had to learn to do over a number of years but thankfully I have time now to put into my business that I didn’t have during my kids’ younger years.
As an experienced mother, what is the best piece of advice you can offer new mums?
It’s a cliché, but do enjoy them while they are little. Enjoy every cry, every smile, every cuddle. They grow up so fast. Let them be kids. Don’t think of them as pests; one day when you are older you’ll want that pest back.
Cover image: Jennifer (pictured second from left) with the My Kids Market team
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