The Makers of Makers Collective
“It all started with a blog post I saw in 2009 about a little parking lot craft show in Chicago and thought, ‘Why don’t we have something like this?’ said Lib Ramos, partner of the Makers Collective. “I sent the post to Erin (Godbey) with the subject line, ‘Am I crazy?’”
Exclusive Photography: FishEye Studios, Greenville, SC
Lib Ramos, Erin Godbey, and Jennifer Moreau are the ladies behind the Makers Collective. Experts in Southern craft, they created a series of craft events and seminars held in Greenville throughout the year. Last weekend The Indie Craft Parade showcased the most talented makers in the South. Their other offerings include The Makers Summit, an annual business conference for creative entrepreneurs and the annual Pop-Up Shop, a temporary craft retail shop open for 12 days in December.
Ramos, Godbey and Moreau collectively bring together backgrounds in graphic design, production and the arts. While the talented team all attended University together, they only met years later.
“People say, ’Thank you for bringing this to Greenville!' Actually... no. All this was already here. We just provide the space and opportunity,” said Ramos. They have definitely created a new respect for craft arts and an impetus for the craft entrepreneur.
Leaph Boutique by Christopher Blake Homemade
The Indie Craft Parade has definitely grown in popularity and demand. With hundreds of applications this year and only 80 available spots, they were selective yet able to rotate artists to include newcomers. They also rotate jury selection of five judges. Jury members can go online on their own time to judge the work. This process allows them to search for judges outside the Greenville area.
“We were underprepared for the first year (2010) of the Indie Craft Parade. It was just a Facebook event where we expected 300 people,” said Ramos. They remember thinking, “Well this will be fun. Maybe we’ll do it again next year if it’s well received.” Attendance was a staggering 1,400 on the first night with 4,000 the first year. “We’re hoping it will be a gateway into fine art collecting as the average price points are only $50.”
The popularity of all of the events is helping local craft artists gain notoriety and a following. “We’ve seen our local artists go from hobbyists to extremely professional entrepreneurs. That’s been really exciting to watch.”
"It’s more of a marketplace than a show." says Lib, "Think Etsy at it’s very best, not gallery. The artists love getting to know their buyers, the one element they lack by selling on line.”
"Imagery is so important to the jury. Artists need to apply with good photos representing their work," explains Lib.
Coincidently, this service is provided by our very own FishEye Studios and in fact is the precise serendipitous reason our Jackie met and married our John. He was shooting her portfolio. Love at first sight (sigh).
"We require the artists to actually make the work. The largest booth we have are 2 six-foot tables next to each other. The $5 admission fee is just enough to keep it going. So simple. Everybody gets a table and a tablecloth and the artists are responsible for selling and collecting their funds," says Lib.
You know, the way life used to be.
Showcasing artists is important to the Makers Collective as is educating them towards success. This is evident by the Makers Summit, a business conference for creative entrepreneurs in March that features Keynote speakers, advisors and workshops.
Artist Lane Huerta says, "The speakers from the Makers Summit are some of the best in their fields. They speak to specific problems ranging from time management to writing a business plan to copywriting, marketing, or legal issues. The one-on-one sessions with branding, marketing and financial experts are invaluable."
As they say, "It’s all good."
We get to bring handiwork into our lives, while they make the world a kinder and prettier place. All in small increments. All in real time.
And Greenville is all the better for it.
Writer: Lianne LaVoy