Don’t you hate it when you’re browsing through the newest, coolest, most chic boutique around, and you find something beautiful, only to realize by reading the tag that’s it’s made overseas somewhere, and all you can picture is sweatshops, and the barely paid overworked human beings who work in them?
Coming to that realization has made me understand that shopping locally actually makes a difference. I met up for a chat with Amanda, the face behind what’s been newly branded . After being left without a job where she worked in store management at Tiffany’s after Holt Renfrew disappeared, she used her experience and expertise to form a network that connects all of these awesome artisans here in Ottawa, and one of the many things it gives them is a regular event in which to showcase, promote, and sell their products.
We were both hesitant using the word “craft” because for me it brings to mind all of these little old grandmas selling their knitting at the local community centre. But Amanda doesn’t want to trash the word, she wants to redefine it – having it take on a more modern, artsy, stylish vibe that encompasses a slew of varying merchandise. After her first market, about a year ago, she’s paired up with Makerspace North in the coolest neighborhood around (Wellington West – it was literally named so in ), and now they host a series of thematic modern craft fairs to showcase local talent and to welcome the Ottawa community into the Makerspace collaborative workspace.
Must-See Vendors (In No Significant Order)
Blondie Apparel: From tunics to kimonos (I want!) to scarves and sweaters, Blondie Apparel has got you covered for the fashionable fall essentials every woman needs in her wardrobe.
Brelokz: This is a jewelry line that captures the essence of nature in the unique and beautiful pieces. The products are representative of leaves, beehives, and bark, so you’ll always carry a little bit of nature with you wherever you go.
Tami Galili Ellis: This lovely lady is jumping on the “bringing back the look” train, crafting handmade chokers. With other leather goods to choose from, she sure knows how to be on trend.
Stoutheart Shave Company: It’s almost Movember, so get your all natural beard care products and maybe some shaving products (for the aftermath) through this darling husband and wife team.
Blackett & Co. and Sprig Candle Company: Apparently there aren’t that many candle makers around here, so grab the gift that keeps on giving while you can.
Jessica’s Syrian Food: This touches my heart and I’m sure it will yours as well. After settling in Almonte as a Syrian refugee, Jarous has started his own catering company and Freewheeling Craft is all about helping people build businesses and make connections, so it’s no surprise that you’ll find them here. Stop by and try some of this delicious cuisine and be a part of two cultures coming together.
Alicja Confections: Grab some dessert with their Postcard Chocolate Bars and/or try their on-the-spot spun cotton candy cones. I don’t know about you, but when I’m offered cotton candy, the answer is always “yes”.
Style Lounge: This time around Amanda was looking to change things up a bit, so she ended up collaborating with local style influencers Katie (YOW City Style) and Chantal (www.modeXLusive). There will be a lounge set up including a style wall depicting these fashionistas in looks courtesy of some different vendors. A map will be posted showing where exactly you can buy whatever it is that you like.
The Future of Freewheeling Craft
Amanda’s parents own a gift shop up North, which is where she draws her inspiration from.
Next up are Freewheeling Craft’s Christmas Markets, and she’s hoping that next week’s website launch will help to build momentum because she wants these markets to be a must-see event for us Ottawans. She’ll also be offering different workshops to help businesses with their entire brand. Her view is simply everyone helping everyone succeed.
I learned so much about local businesses and what they have to offer during our brief chat and I’m really happy to have met someone that is so genuinely passionate about our city and its success. As I make my way through the vendors I’ll be there for some live coverage about the most epic ones! So make sure to follow me on social media (, , and ). See you there!