How the Gold Coast’s Village Markets began

WHEN Sarah Schoeller and Marissa Bowden founded The Village Markets, Burleigh wasn’t a hipster hotspot and MySpace was popular.

Flash forward nine years: the markets are a southern Gold Coast institution and the duo are up for the Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Cosmopolitan Women of the Year awards.

“Marissa and I worked together for a finance company in marketing and we used to talk about how the Gold Coast didn’t have a great fashion market,” Sarah said.

“When we were made redundant (during the GFC) we had some time on our hands.

“We’d been to some great markets in London and Sydney so we decided to put our own flair on it and focused on local designers, live music and street food.

media_cameraMarissa Bowden and Sarah Schoeller founders of The Village Market, Gold Coast.

“Burleigh was a little sleepy sea side village when we started, there weren’t any cool cafes or restaurants.

“And our main social tool was MySpace back then.”

Marissa said the markets were a tool to put the Gold Coast “back on the map”.

“We wanted to give it (the Coast) a lot more credit than it was getting,” she said.

“A lot of designers were leaving the Gold Coast to launch their labels in Sydney or Melbourne … back then the city was seen as being all about glitz and glamour and high rise buildings, we knew there was a lot more to it.”

media_cameraThe markets have become a hipster haven. Luke Marsden.

Sarah said a number of their early stallholders have since gone onto major success

“Peony Swimwear sold their first bikini at The Village Markets and brands like F+H Jewellery are doing so well,” she said.

“Quite a few brands are being stocked by ‘Free People’ in the US and Urban Outfitters which is pretty cool for Gold Coast businesses.”

The pair said they were honoured to have been named national finalists by the popular women’s magazine.

“Cosmo is a massive international magazine so its nice to be recognised for our humble little business,” Marissa said.

“We were actually nominated by someone else then we were selected as finalists.

“It’s a public voting competition now … you can vote on their website.”

Vote online before October 10.

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