Thursday, November 12, 2009

Check out our interview with Bazaar Bizarre!

The Petaluma Downtown Craft Mart is thrilled to partner with Bazaar Bizarre! BazBiz is one of the largest and oldest of the indie craft shows in the Bay Area and their holiday show is coming up December 12th and 13th in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The Craft Mart ladies were recently interviewed by BazBiz for their blog and we thought we would share the interview here:

Can you please tell us about the upcoming Petaluma Downtown Craft Mart and who might be interested in attending.
Kristine McFarland:  The Petaluma Downtown Craft Mart is the brainchild of five Petaluma crafty ladies who have done our share on the craft fair circuit in San Francisco, Sacramento and various places in the U.S.  We all realized that there isn’t one definitive fair in Sonoma County, and really wanted to create a unique event to highlight the wealth of talent we have up here, to create a buzz to showcase such talent and create a crafty culture that has been missing.

Nicole Vasbinder: We also want to create an event that is inclusive of the whole town. Something that will attract all ages and people from all different walks of life. That's why we have vendors that represent the indie side of the craft community as well as vendors that are a little more traditional. We are also super excited that it's right next door to TAPS brewpub as there will be a place for the dudes to hang out who otherwise might not come to a craft fair. Ha!

Carrie Caudle: This is a great event for families to attend.  There will be a number of adorable gifts for little ones, and kids can find reasonably-priced things to get for their parents, too.  I love having an alternative to the mall for family shopping!  And any place where hipsters and grandmas can mingle is all right by me.

I am sure you are excited about arranging and promoting a fair of your own.  How has this process developed?   example, finding a venue, theme, selection of vendors. 

Nicole: It came together pretty organically. After I opened StitchCraft in January 2008 I started meeting all sorts of crafty people in Petaluma. I'm a natural networker and starting talking to people about putting on a craft show in downtown that would get foot traffic and would be centrally located. Elaine, Melissa, Carrie and Kristine all said that they would want to help plan and that's how we got together. In terms of locations, we looked at a bunch of vacant storefronts in downtown but couldn't convince a landlord to rent out for one day. But then we lucked out with the Hotel Petaluma and we rented their ballroom.

Elaine Barr: I find that this has been one of the most organic coming togethers that I've ever been a part of. I think all five of us genuinely love crafting and creating and really wanted to bring a venue for that to our town, Petaluma. We all have different and complementary strengths that have worked so well together, it kind of feels like everything is just falling in to place.

Melissa Abercrombie:  The five of us are all the "go-getter" type so working together has really been a breeze. Everyone is eager and proactive which makes it wonderful to be able to rely on the fact that everything will get done. We all have our stregnths and just planning this event has been so much fun.

What show have you done in the past that you have used as a foundation and inspiration for your own show ?
Kristine:  When I first moved from San Francisco to Petaluma I noticed there wasn’t a great venue for all the talent here, plus I really wanted to meet friends.  I created a craft show, which to put it mildly, wasn’t quite what I had hoped, but I was a solo woman, putting on a big event and clearly needed help.  All of these women were vendors at my fair and Melissa and I originally discussed ‘bringing it back’ as the idea was there and just needed to be expanded upon. 

Nicole: I have done so many craft shows over the past 6 years including Renegade Craft Fair, Bazaar Bizarre, Felt Club and Stitch Austin and wanted something like that for Petaluma. The DIY movement is exploding and ties in with the slow food movement that is so huge in Sonoma County. Petaluma is a natural for a show like this.

Elaine: I've helped plan two other Petaluma craft shows, so I knew there was a need for it in this area. And not just a need by the vendors, but by the shoppers. Petaluma has a great tradition for being supportive of artists and crafters. What I like especially about this show is the very diverse selection of vendors that we will be hosting. A little bit o' everything, I like to think.

Melissa: Since moving to Petaluma from San Francisco a little over 5 years ago, I've been very active in running a sustainable development campaign to support our local economy. Promoting the creativity of our area is a key component to that. Petaluma is a town distinguished by it's creative history and it's local-vore economy. Petalumans live within 5 miles of all the food, dairy, and beer (Lagunitas) they can dream of! It's a natural fit for our community to showcase it's creativity and particularly in such a beautiful and historic venue.

Carrie: I'm a little newer to the scene than my seasoned crafty companeras.  Although I've loved doing projects on my own forever, I just started my own crafty business a little over a year ago.  As I've entered the scene, I've loved the community spirit of crafters at both SF Indie Mart and the Petaluma Art and Garden Festival.  We've definitely captured that positive, collaborative energy for this show.

It is such a disappointment to see all the "retail" items being sold at craft fairs.   any thoughts about this ?

Melissa: Retail items have their place in mainstream culture but I fear the homogenization of what's available to the consumer. Personally, I like things freshened up from time to time and I feel craft fairs allow the opportunity for new ideas and products to reach consumers. Craft fairs are a forum for the maker and the buyer to come together in a shared appreciation of handmade items. When a craft fair ceases to fill that need then it's time to change the name.

Seems as if Petaluma is becoming a hub of independent thinking.  do you think it is the new home of the D.I.Y movement ?
Nicole:  I know! It's a pretty special place. We have so many talented people in Petaluma as well as special events like Whiskerino and Butter & Egg Days. And Sonoma County is home to companies like O'Reilly Media (Craft Zine, Make Zine and Maker Fair) and events like Handcar Regatta. Maybe it is the new Craft Mecca!

Elaine: I'm a little biased in my answer, having moved to Petaluma when I was 5 and basically living here since. I've had a craft gallery downtown, my mom owned a dollhouse miniatures shop in the old mill, before the fire, and my aunt taught me to paint in her upstairs apartment..five houses up from the Petaluma Hotel. The green valleys, the swirling winds and the early fog, just make an artist's heart leap with joy. Petaluma is positioned in a way that nurtures creativity and I find it very exciting that so many liked minded hearts are finding their way here...

Melissa:  We definitely have something going on here and it's in our blood as a community. We are known for originality in so many areas... the incubator was created here (which led to Petaluma becoming know as "the egg basket of the world"), we were one of the first cities to apply an urban growth boundary, and SMART code design principals were first started here. The creative identity of the North Bay and our access to a wealth of creative talent and healthy resources really make us a growing destination to creative-types!

Carrie: Petaluma exemplifies what a community can do well.  We are a group of independent thinkers--full of that self-starter spirit and D.I.Y. ingenuity.  And what better place to have the hub of a movement?  Cruise on out to the beach...enjoy the abundance of the local wetlands preserve...and eat more tasty food than you can shake a stick at...mmm.

Tell us about COTS:

Elaine:  COTS has long been one of those organizations that is synonymous with helping, caring and giving. There are a lot of people in this town, like throughout the country, that have fallen on hard times and just need a helping hand. COTS is that helping hand. From helping low income kids with their homework to providing dishes and other homeware to displaced families, COTS is a cherished part of this community.
Carrie: COTS is there to support members of our community with essential opportunities and care.  From temporary housing, to job skills, to nourishment, to sliding-scale counseling services, COTS is a vital component of what makes Petaluma so special.  We are thrilled to support this organization through our event!

Thanks Bazaar Bizarre! They will be at the Petaluma Downtown Craft Mart previewing some of the fantastic vendors that will be at BazBiz!

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