We are always on the lookout for great markets where handmade vendors can sell their creations to an excited audience. Artisanal LA was a food-focused market that opened a few years ago (KC and Sharon were excited to sample all of its goodies at its inaugural event) but had not had a market in a year or so. We were excited to learn that it was returning and also opening up it applications to include craft artists. When we heard our friend Ji of Blooms In The Air would be selling her beautiful paper flowers there, we asked her if she'd let us know what the market was like. She was kind enough to tell us.
Q: Tell us about your shop please!
A: Blooms In The Air (aka BITA) is a petite whimsical handmade paper flower shop. We believe in the simple joy that flowers give and so we craft our paper flowers petal by petal to make sure the that the message it holds can be a bit more special and longer lasting. The shop came to life just about two years ago when the desire to create something beautiful using my own two hands grew too big to ignore. The process always starts from being inspired by real flowers and amazing color combinations that make me pause a moment and smile. It's never my goal to replicate a flower exactly, but to recognize a certain unique characteristic(s) that a specific flower has and translate it through sculpting the paper. I use the word sculpting because that is what really happens petal by petal.
Q: How did you hear about Artisanal LA?
A: Artisanal LA reached out to me asking me to participate in their Fall 2013 show. They explained that they have rebranded themselves beyond well-crafted food to create "a weekend-long community shopping, tasting, programming and learning experience showcasing the country's finest local, sustainable, handmade edibles and home goods."
Q: What's the application and jurying process like? What requirements do you have to meet?
A: It was simple and a very typical application process. An online application along with a $20 application processing fee, which had to mailed until specified date. Jury process didn't really apply to me because that was already done before hand. However, I assume they reviewed all the websites and/or an online source of my work to determine the story and quality of the work. The fact that I was part of other craft fairs (such as Unique LA & Renegade Craft Fair) in LA this year probably played a positive part in the jurying process.
Q: What was the atmosphere like? Who was there? What could you do?
A: The atmosphere was friendly and energetic because there was just a lot of food samples offered and tried. Who wouldn't be happy being able to taste free goodies? Also the full set of workshops and demonstrations brought in a lot of people with an interest to learn, which is always a good thing in creative places. I, myself, was sad I was missing those workshops. Curiosity was definitely there as well, because of the new mix of home goods and great food. The different vendors were purposely mixed up between each other and so the interest level was consistently being balanced out. There were a good mix of audience groups as well. Families, couples and friends were all there.
Q: What kind of vendor would do well here or not do well here?
A: In my personal opinion, handcrafted food and home good vendors would do better than vintage and handcrafted apparel and accessories vendors. The artisanal food vendor presence and brand of this show is what sets this show apart from all other well established fairs. The make up of this show needs to be tightly woven into food, kitchen and home.
Q: What should people considering the Artisanal know about it?
A: They should know that a good audience group know of this show to be food only. The fall 2013 show definitely changed that a bit and might change even more as years go by. But I really think the identity of this show is and should be built around food and home. Therefore, vendors getting ready for this show should prepare accordingly. Also, for those who are far more on the side of home goods should remember that this will open opportunities to a large group of new audience that are not as "crafty" themselves. Also, since home goods products don't have a tool called "samples" to work for us, the visuals have to be a statement that speaks louder than ever.
Q: As a non-food vendor, how did you feel like your experience differed from the food vendors?
A: As a non-food vendor and on the far edge of home goods vendor category, overall I had a positive experience. My paper flowers were very well received and was appreciated. Many have never seen such products being offered in such way before. I will admit I had a good laugh here and there with interesting conversations and questions I would have never had in other shows more handmade & craft oriented. Couple people actually wanted to know if my paper flowers would actually die or grow. I had a great laugh. Since I enjoy explaining the craft and process behind my craft, I enjoyed all the new audience group. I honestly don't think the experience was far different from food vendors. There were many first time-food vendors and so I felt a little more mentally well adjusted. Also many food vendors had farmer's market experience, but never a large show experience. Therefore, we both shared that experience of meeting new audience group. Other than the fact that the food vendors always had samples as their main tool to initiate their conversations and sales, I had a cosy and beautiful gallery-like space that people stopped in to rest, be inspired and shop.
Q: Anything else?
A: The new location of LA Mart played a big part in making my experience with Artisanal LA a positive one. Being that this time was the very first time such show was held there, I expect the procedures and systems to improve even more and be very convenient for vendors. They were equipped with large flat beds available for vendors to use, along with security systems and facility management there to always help. The booths came with white 9' high walls, which can be have things nailed and screwed to it. I expected a trade-show-like cubical walls, but it really was drywalled walls. You can really be creative with that.
Q: Where can people find your stuff?
A: www.bloomsintheair.com is my website and store and hope to have you find my flowers in local boutique stores in LA soon. You can also expect to find my flowers that Winter Unique LA show Dec. 7th & 8th.