Everything is more beautiful when it’s made from the heart.
The Guelph Fall Handmade Market brought a big crowd out to the Old Quebec Street Shoppes recently, where over 50 local artisans showcased their one-of a kind, crafty talents.
The event, hosted by the Guelph Handmade Group, was the first to be held in the fall season.
“We have a Holiday Handmade Market and last year, it was at the Springfield Golf and Country Club and the year before that, we were at the Cutten Club. Our holiday markets are just phenomenal,” said Kayla McQueen, event coordinator and founder of the Guelph Handmade Group.
“We had our first summer event in June at Royal City Park and all the vendors had such a great time It was a huge success, so we thought, why not try one in the fall and see what happens. When I approached the Old Quebec Street Shoppes about it, they were so excited to have us.”
The Guelph Handmade Group operates on the philosophy of ‘community over competition’ and it supports all handmade small businesses.
“We established The Guelph Handmade Group because we saw a need to bring greater awareness and support to our Guelph handmade community,” McQueen says.
The group hosts various handmade maker events throughout the year.
“I think the biggest reason for having these events is to be able to provide the community with an opportunity be able to support their local handmade artisans,” McQueen said.
“And it gives the artisans a place to sell their products affordably. So, our goal here is to be able to provide an affordable option, a place for them to sell their products.”
The market offered a variety of handmade gems including knitted goods, children’s clothing and accessories, jewellery, home décor, woodwork and pottery.
“We do try to create as much of a mix as possible and we try to keep costs as low as possible for our vendor spaces,” McQueen says.
“They need these opportunities to sell their products. There are so many mainstream factory- produced products out there. Shoppers look at it differently too because they know handmade when they see it and they also know how much time and energy has gone into making these products.”
No two handmade items are exactly alike. This means that every handmade item purchased, is one-of-a-kind.
“We need to continue to host events for our artisans so that the community can support them and so that they can support each other. They all know each other. It’s a very tight knit community,” McQueen said.
For Artisan, Emily Havercroft, owner of Birch and Birdie Designs, it’s all about supporting one another.
“I have three young children so to have an opportunity to do this, it’s so satisfying. There are a lot of women here today and as artisans, we all support each other and it’s so great to be able to get together and do that,” Havercroft said.
For Shawna Katz, owner of Uniquely Handcrafted, it’s also about keeping it local.
“I think this is a great opportunity because for many of us, we do this part time, so it gives us the opportunity to get together and show our work. And the special thing about it is that it’s local,” Katz said.
Local artisans are increasingly seeing a consumer shift and today, more and more people are willing to be educated about the value of an item that is made by hand.
“People love the idea of local and being handmade and this gives them the opportunity to see these items first-hand,” Katz said.
Scented Market Owner, Kristy Miller, couldn’t agree more.
“I’m just so big into handmade and local. I started this a year and a half ago and it’s such a great opportunity to be here and show what we have to offer,” Miller said.
For McQueen and the local artisans, it’s also very much about giving back to the community.
“Our holiday markets support community groups. We’ve helped “The Seed” through admission donations. Our first one in 2017, we raised over $2500 for Women in Crisis. So, every holiday season, we like to support a community a group and it’s not a mandatory donation. We just give people the option,” McQueen said.
The Guelph Handmade Group is always looking to collaborate with local makers. If anyone is interested in becoming involved in an upcoming market as a maker or to help plan a future event, they can contact the group via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
And the group has just launched its new website at https://www.theguelphhandmadegroup.com/about
Freelance animator, illustrator, and teacher of art, Garth Laidlaw, was eager to talk to customers at the market about his artwork as they carefully sifted through his colourful creations.
“I grew up in Guelph. It’s such a great place to be and I want to support our arts community,” Laidlaw said.
A Guelph Handmade Market is like no other.
“I organize other shows but this one is different,” McQueen said.
“I think because the artisans all appreciate each other because they know of the time and work put into each of their pieces and for customers, they really appreciate that too."