Okay crafty boys and gals its official, Ottawa’s Urban Craft (a quarterly craft show out in the Glebe) is celebrating their third birthday this September 13th. An anchor of the craft show circuit since 2011, this year’s planning committee promises a bigger and better event with more independent designers to celebrate the big day.
Boasting over 50 vendors, a pop-up diner where attendees can nosh on locally-made eats and other surprise goodies, the upcoming craft show offers modern and hip merchandise to spruce up any home. In the past 3 years the Urban Craft team has welcomed over 15,000 shoppers through its doors and generated an estimated $200,000 for our local economy. Not bad, eh? Check out our Q&A with Krista Leben, Urban Craft’s senior event manager:
What do you do for Urban Craft and what do you get out of it?
I am the co-founder of Urban Craft, along with my partner, Robin Sidhu. We are involved with every aspect of the show, from selecting the vendors to managing press, from managing social media campaigns to making sure everything goes smoothly on the day of the show.
What have been the biggest challenges of planning quarterly craft shows for the Ottawa market?
Our event started out as a monthly show because we wanted to give local artisans a chance to sell their work on a consistent basis in an indoor setting. We ran the show monthly for over a year, and it was an incredible–but exhausting–ride. Events are a beast unto themselves, and running an event with only 30 days in between was a little insane, a little fun, and a little tiring.
We decided to move the show to a bigger venue to accommodate more vendors and make the show more exciting for people who were coming back show after show. This also allowed us more time to plan and improve our event between shows. Compared to running the event monthly, doing it quarterly is a bit of a cake walk. Ok, maybe not a cake walk–but much easier!
What lessons have you learned and what advice would you have for others starting out in the craft biz?
One of the biggest pieces of advice I can offer for people starting out in the craft business is to specialize, specialize, specialize. There are a lot of small, handmade businesses in Ottawa and if you’re interested in being successful the most important thing you must do is make sure that you stand out amongst the crowd. We often see businesses pop up where you know that the artisan is passionate about what they do, but they haven’t put their own spin on their craft–whether it be baked goods or jewelry.
Use the passion that you have for your craft to drive you to innovate so you can stand out amongst other businesses. Whether that is through unique branding or packaging or an interesting and new way of making what you make, you want to be sure you stand out in order to make an impact.
How has the sale of the successful event changed or grown?
We started out as a monthly show with just 20 vendors and a few hundred attendees. Now we feature over 50 vendors, and have attendance numbers in excess of 1000 people each time we run the show. It’s been incredible to see how supportive both the craft community and the Ottawa community at large have been, and inspiring to see how much people love and embrace these small businesses which are full of heart!
There are way too many to list here; every vendor we’ve had at Urban Craft has been really special. I can say I’m really excited about many of the new vendors we’ll have at the show this Saturday, including:
Thistle & Fern, a wonderful floral company that will be joining us from Toronto.
The Legendary Workshop, which creates these awesome Star Wars inspired chairs that guys just go crazy over.
Artifact Skin Co., which makes the loveliest masks with the most incredible packaging. I want to buy them all! (See image at right.)
Gongfu Bao, an incredible local food cart which will be taking over our pop-up diner at the show. Owner Tarek has actually put together a build your own bao bar especially for our show, and I can’t wait to see it in action (and eat some)!
What can we expect to see from Urban Craft in the future?
We have some really exciting things in store for Urban Craft later this year and into 2015. With the success of the show, we’re currently looking into bigger venues to house all of the incredible vendors that are applying to the show–so keep an eye out for a new and expanded show in 2015. And we’re working on a collaborative project with a bunch of our vendors and we’ll be running a special event for it during Apt613’s Support Local Month. We’re terribly excited about it!
So come celebrate some home turf talent, and feed your hunger for quality made-in-Canada goods.
Urban Craft Market is giving away $20 to spend at the fall sale. To enter, leave a comment below by noon on Wednesday, September 10 telling us about the best thing you’ve ever picked up at a craft sale. We’ll do a random draw and notify the winner.
Urban Craft Market takes place September 13, 2014 from 10am – 3pm at the Glebe Community Centre (175 Third Ave). No cover. Visit their website for a complete list of vendors and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.