DIY Artisan Market: Savvy Designers Pop Up In Town

By Tricia Romano
The Seattle Times.


When Terra Link and Jacob Rideout arrived in Seattle from California in October, they looked for a crafts festival to sell their handmade wares for the Savvy Heart, their “lifestyle brand” of jewelry, furniture and scented oils. But they couldn’t find anything that seemed quite right.

“One of the only things that we could find was mostly farmers markets,” Link said.

And since most farmers markets don’t feature a lot of crafts, they did what any self-respecting Do-It-Yourself artists would do: They founded their own pop-up shop.

The Savvy Marketplace, now in its fourth, features 12 to 17 local vendors every month in Sole Repair, an event space on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. They’ve added a food truck (Sunday’s vendor was the Grilled Cheese Experience) and craft cocktails and feature live local musicians.

True to their name, the duo proved to be savvy themselves. Though Link is from the region (she studied interior design at the Art Institute of Seattle), she didn’t have a network of fellow artisans in the city. Instead, she and Rideout looked for hashtags such as “handmade in Seattle” on Instagram, and scoured Etsy and larger regional craft markets for Seattle-based makers. After cold-contacting vendors, they collected enough to fill a market.

As for finding customers? They went the comparatively old-fashioned route: direct-mail advertising via the Post Office. The duo mailed 1,500 fliers, concentrating mostly on Capitol Hill, sending a few hundred to other neighborhoods.

Darya Assadi, 23, who just moved to Seattle from Phoenix, said she found out about the marketplace through one of those fliers. She brought two friends, also newcomers to the city.

One, Massoud Torabi, 24, left with a soy wax candle from Capitol Hill Candle Co., made by Jeremie Berg just five blocks away.

Before he left, Torabi also checked out Radley Raven’s bow ties. One, with a matching pocket square, was made with 1970s wool houndstooth fabric from England. “I’ve always been a fan of that old-school look, that Gatsby style, and wanted to bring a piece of that back,” Raven said.

Of course, he’d tried to send a bow tie or two to Seattle’s most famous bow-tie fan, Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman, via “his people.”

Marquita Evans, of Tacoma, Wash., and a friend giggled at Kimberly Witchey’s off-color cards for Phenix Stationery, featuring unprintable slogans. (One fit for print: “I love you because you are awesome just like me.”)

“It’s just as you would speak with your friends, without the filter,” Evans said.

For Witchey, who is a full-time graphic designer, the cards were a part-time hobby. Another vendor, Christine Heidel, had just taken a leave of absence from a tech job at a consulting firm to pursue making cards full time. The Savvy Marketplace was her first-ever market. That morning she’d made her first sale for Silver+Salt.

“The people that you are going to find here are probably in a transition spot,” Rideout said. “We are people that can’t afford a brick-and-mortar but also need to get into the public eye to expand our brand.” It was like an Etsy store come to life.

Another vendor, Felicia Williams, had turned her passion for fashion, found objects and traveling into a side business, Black Hound. She was selling an absurdist oil painting featuring a pug in military clothing by a New York City street artist, and a vintage leather caravan bag from Morocco.

“I like to be able to pick up an object and tell a story,” she said. “If one of my customers buys it, I want them to feel like they traveled to Morocco with me.”

Upstairs, Kristina Cullen sold necklaces with apothecary tubes filled with tiny shark teeth and bird talons. Other necklaces were crafted out of coyote jawbones and antler bones, encrusted with gunmetal resin crystals.

“I like taking something not very pretty and giving it a whole new life,” she said.

As the crowd perused the wares, they sipped drinks, such as the Wake Up Call, made with coffee, vodka, Frangelico and vanilla syrup.

Shopping While Drunk? “We like to get some drinks in people and get them shopping and let them have a good time,” Link said.
How savvy.

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