Art is an ineffable thing. That little word attempts to describe so many different mediums of the creative mind. Most of us are artists in our own way; even if we are not, there are many different types of art out in the world to be appreciated by all.
A few weekends ago I attended a Makers Mart in Sacramento, both as a vendor and consumer. I, myself, was not selling any of my own creations; however, I was assisting my friend sell her film photography prints. The Makers Market is held twice a year and the vendors sell everything from paintings to jewelry, cool metal mobiles to vegan gelato! Equipped with live music, beer and food, a person could spend an entire day there (as I did).
There were so many female creatives there, it was baffling. As I perused the items for sale, I interrogated a couple of the vendors. Below, I highlighted three of the merchants. I asked each of them one question pertaining to the market and all their answers shared a similar theme of community, support and persistence (all the best attributes of a feminist attitude).
Roxanne Young is a jewelry designer based in San Francisco. She specializes in textile jewelry and wearable art. When asked if she has a “nine to five” in addition to her jewelry business, her response was authentic and unintentionally humorous. She rolled her eyes (just slightly) and said, “kind of… I have a four year old son.” So you can say, without hesitation, she definitely has another full time job; and he probably monopolizes her time during all hours of the day (not just nine to five).
Young has participated in many markets like this and she asserts that there is never a guarantee that one will break even. The best way to utilize a market is to network. There was one particular market that Young was a participant in a few years ago, at which she actually lost money. However, she met a business owner who started selling her jewelry in their brick-and-mortar store where Young’s jewelry has been sold ever since. Two key takeaways here are: don’t lose hope if you do not find immediate results, and make as many friends as possible.
I swear I possess no bias because she is my friend… Jenna Rae Gundelach is an uber talented photographer. As a California native, she currently resides in Oakland and like any good photographer, she always has her camera ready. Gundelach can make some of the most uptight and unphotogenic people look très chic (i.e. my mom).
This market was her first (ever) attempt at selling her prints in a public venue. Her set up was laid-back and inviting, with the hope of enticing the passive shoppers to step under her tent and take a gander at her selection of entirely film photography prints.
Gundelach’s advice to other artists looking to dip their toes into the market of artist markets: bring some of your friends to be advocates for your art. It can be really difficult to sell yourself, for no one wants to come across narcissistic. So have some of your more talkative and supportive friends with you in order to brag to perspective buyers about how amazing you are at whatever it is you do. I talked her up to a someone from Sunset Magazine, a local barber who is looking for a photographer to collaborate on a cool look-book for his business, and many more potentially life-altering networking opportunities. It helps, of course, that her prints are truly breathtaking.
One of the youngest vendors present, at twenty-three, Savannah Nicholson is already able to support herself solely on her jewelry business, Anahata Rae. She has a bright smile and a beautiful soul, maintaining that each item she designs is “intended to bring joy and beauty into the world.” How sweet is that? Her jewelry is trendy (in the best way), and beautifully presented.
Nicholson was able to become fully dependent on Anahata Rae in January of this year. Having lived in Sacramento, the Bay Area, and now San Luis Obispo, she has participated in many markets. She upholds that there is a definite learning curve when it comes to selling in a market setting. The first couple of times are not guaranteed success, but after one figures out the best way for their products to draw people in, one will see a steady increase in sales.
After spending all day in the ninety-something degree heat, I left having only made one purchase (besides the vegan gelato, twice), and it was the Luna Necklace from Anahata Rae.
All of these artists held a common sentiment about the Makers Mart. At marts like these, there is always a chance of a competitive atmosphere; however, all of the vendors seemed to be happy to come together as a community of artists in order to build each other up. I saw multiple vendors buying from each other, making business connections, and becoming friends.
Always support your vinas in their creative endeavors and make sure you have vinas who will do so for you. If not (or if you just want more), download the Hey! VINA app to meet more great gals in your area.
If you are looking for a market like this to attend or sell at, here are a few that are coming up:
Renegade Craft Fair
San Francisco: July 15 + 16 (this weekend)
Chicago: July 14-16
Seattle: July 22 + 23
Portland (OR): July 29 + 30
(additional locations/dates can be found by following the link above)
Artists and Fleas
Williamsburg: every Sat-Sun
Soho: All week, every week!
LA- Venice: Every 2nd and 4th Saturday
And if you don’t reside near a big city, google your local flea markets to support the creatives in your area!
Comment below your favorite markets to attend and/or the coolest thing you ever bought at a market.
(Originally posted on the VINAZINE)