Thursday 11 April 2013

Handmade Harvest: not your grandma's craft show!

Craft season is gearing back up for the spring. This is one of my favourite times of year, given my devotion to all things handmade. I’ve done some serious tours of the local craft shows, but my favourite every year is the Handmade Harvest show that happens both spring and winter. I got to chat with HH organizers Emily and Colleen this year, and here’s what they shared about the show, coming up May 4th in Almonte, Ontario at the Agricultural Hall:

1. Who are you ladies and what do you do, aside from planning the best craft show in the valley?
We are Emily Arbour and Colleen Hewitt, two entrepreneurial moms who love to craft and plan events. 

I [Emily] am a freelance writer/marketer who works for various clients, as well as writing an advice column in our local arts community newspaper under the pen name Miss Write. 

Colleen owns and operates a little shop of goodies called {smitten} in beautiful downtown Almonte. Home to many of our Handmade Harvest vendors alongside fun & funky finds.

2. What's happening at Handmade Harvest this season? 
Golden Weather Productions
We are really excited about this year's spring show. It's the third time we've shown at the Almonte Ag Hall, and the space really allows us to showcase our vendors well. It's a stunning old building just on the river's edge in the centre of town. We had several new faces apply to the show and we're always thrilled to welcome new talent to our line up. Shoppers can expect to find a really well rounded mix of products. Everything from bath and body, jewellery and accessories, baby and kids products, textiles and art, printmaking, clothing, name it. 
3. What do you think attracts people to handmade goods? Is the Ottawa area particularly fond of handmade?
We think people want to be connected to the products they're purchasing. Folks love a good story to tell and they want to feel good about the way they spend their money and the products they consume. We're not sure that it's just Ottawa that is particularly fond of handmade (though it is) but more so that there’s been a North America-wide handmade movement. People love items that are unique, and handmade usually means one of a kind!

4. What's your favourite part about running Handmade Harvest? 
Crazy Fox Studio (love them! -Jordan)
I think we can agree that our favourite part about running the show is meeting all the incredibly creative (and enthusiastic) participants. We love hearing that they've had a great sales day, and that we've helped to inspire them to turn their hobbies into bonafide businesses. That's our mission. Several of our vendors have gone on to quit their jobs and create full time. Personally, I also love working closely with Colleen. We used to work side-by-side almost every day and now that we've got our own businesses to tend to, we don't get to powwow as frequently. Granted, we can drive each other completely insane, but we have a very unique friendship in which we seem to always find the balance (and forgiveness) that allows us to make this show so great. I think our vendors and our shoppers can sense our enthusiasm for the show and our support each other's success. We hope anyway.

5. What's in those goody bags and how do people get them?
Well wouldn't you like to know!? Each of our vendors is required to donate 25-50 small items to our swag bags, so they're chock full of stuff. Because we stuff them the evening before the big event, we truly couldn't tell you what's in them, but in the past our bags have seen loads of coupons, earring sets, hair clips, buttons, food samples, mini pieces of name it! Swag bags are given to the first 50 shoppers in line the morning of each show. We've had a shopper line up as early as 3 hours in advance of the doors opening, but that's an extreme case. Anyone who arrives an hour before we open (at 10am) should be good.

6. Who's new this year that you're excited to showcase? 
Add caption
That's a tough one. We have so many new vendors this year that we're pretty pumped about a lot of them. If I (Emily) had to pick, I'd say I'm most looking forward to seeing Winged Beast Outfitters. We've had silkscreen artists in the past, but these guys are polished and have a certain "funk factor". I need more t-shirts in my life. Colleen says she's brimming with excitement over the new clutches that Gillian Hyde of Pip Robins will be bringing.  And secretly crossing her fingers that there will be some left to go in her shop.
7. How can people learn more about the show(s) and stay in touch?
People can learn more about the show by joining our mailing list (found on our website ), visiting our website, liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter.

Thanks so much ladies! I hope all of you come enjoy the show on May 4th and pick up something to cherish!

The line for swag bags. I do this every year, cursing the whole time.
(But I'm a baby when it comes to weather.)

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