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Urban Craft: Ottawa gets a monthly craft market

By Karen Diepeveen on August 30, 2011

Photo by Anne Marie Bouchard, courtesy of Urban Craft.

Ottawa’s burgeoning craft scene pops up every now and again at various craft shows – most of which fall in late November or early December, when gift-giving season starts sneaking up on us. But what about the rest of the year? While a few stores around town carry bits of local creativity, it’s always seemed like Ottawa’s crafters needed a regular spot to set up (temporary) shop.

And that moment has arrived! Urban Craft is the city’s first iteration of a regular craft fair. They’ll be open down at the GCTC theatre once a month starting this Saturday, Sept. 3, and will feature everyone from bakers to silk screeners to jewelers, all from in and around this fine city. We sent Krista Leben, owner of urbanite jewelry and co-founder & producer of the market, a few questions to sate our curiousity around the event.

Apt613: Tell us about the Urban Craft market. What’s it all about?

Krista: Urban Craft is Ottawa’s first monthly craft market which features fresh and modern finds from indie businesses all over town. The show will take place the first Saturday of every month from 10am-2pm at the Irving Greenburg Theater (home of the Great Canadian Theatre Company) in the heart of Hintonburg. We’ve assembled an incredibly talented group of vendors who will be showcasing everything from small-batch, gourmet food to modern, handmade fashion.

From what we can tell, this is Ottawa’s first such market. Where did you get the idea?

[Co-founder and producer] Robin and I were inspired by similar markets that have become wildly popular in other cities across the U.S. and Canada—both of us had attended or participated in monthly markets in Denver and Edmonton—and we wanted to bring this idea to Ottawa. We have wanted to launch a monthly market for over a year, but between running urbanite jewelry, producing Wed By Hand and Robin’s day job with the government, we literally hadn’t had the time or ability to do so.

Earlier this summer after hearing from many crafters that there was a need for a monthly show, we decided to jump in and start one this fall.  We kept hearing from our network of crafters (through The Craft Co-Op, the organization that we run) that they needed a consistent, indoor place to sell their creations. The majority of craft shows have been concentrated in the summer and holiday seasons up until this point, and we had heard from many crafters that they would need a monthly venue to sell their wares in order to sustain and grow their businesses. Knowing that this event would also provide an opportunity for locals to shop local at a monthly show, we knew that we were on to something and we jumped in.

So if we stop by on Sept. 3, what will we find at the market?

Everything from vegan baked goods to fascinators to French macarons to gorgeous home goods and locally-roasted coffee. We were literally blown away by the number of applications we received and the caliber of the applicants for Urban Craft. Selecting vendors was very difficult, but we’ve put together a show that has something for everyone and also includes local favorites and new talent that hasn’t been showcased at other shows around town. We’re incredibly excited.

Any tips for first-time craft market shoppers?

Come early—many crafters put together small-batch and one of a kind items so showing up early will guarantee you’ll pick up something unique. Many of our food vendors are also notorious for selling out of their delicious goods early at other shows, so popping by early is a must!

Also take some time to chat with the vendors at the show—they have incredible stories and often there’s so much meaning behind the items they make. That’s the beauty of handmade and buying local—you get to know both the producer who makes your favorite cupcake or the beautiful ring you wear every day.

Craft markets are great for finding gifts – can you give us a sampling of what we could find at the market for that person who has everything?

For the foodie in your life, we’ve got locally-roasted coffee from a new company, Bytown Beanery, while Auntie Loo’s will have vegan sweet treats to go with your cuppa. We’ll also have French macarons from Urban Baking Co. and gourmet chocolate from Koko Chocolates and Rochef Chocolatier to satisfy your sweet tooth.

If you’ve got a friend who’s welcoming a wee little one into their lives soon, Liv Well Toys will be on hand with gorgeous hand-sewn stuffed animals that go perfect in any nursery. My Stow-And-Tow has the perfect totes for your tot, too!

Manus Made and Eufemia Bella both create gorgeous home goods—the former perfect for that someone in your life who has a home that Nigella Lawson might feel comfortable in, while the latter has perfectly modern-yet-shabby-chic goods that would go perfect in your cottage.

For the fashionista in your life, Flights of Fancy will be on hand with gorgeous fascinators. There will also be a wide-range of modern jewelry from companies like Leah Christina, JasmineVirani, Chelsy Anne and Strut.

And that’s just a sampling—we’ll also have a letterpress company on hand, really special bath & body products, gorgeous bags and more. Even better,  we’ll have new and different vendors every month, meaning that there will always be something new to see at Urban Craft!

Urban Craft runs at the GCTC (at the intersection of Holland and Wellington) on the first Saturday of each month from 10am-2pm. The first market gets underway this Saturday, Sept. 3.


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