I have been to many a craft show and I remain intrigued about the highly attended Canadian show One Of A Kind. It's set up like no show that I know of and one of (if not the?) the biggest one in Canada on many levels. So I was excited when I found out that someone I knew, Emma Gerard, was doing the show this past year and had been doing it for many years. If you've been thinking of doing the show for a bit OR you are interested, read on! Also, feel free to leave comments and questions below about the show, especially if you've done it share your experience too!
Q: Tell us about your shop and what you make!
A: Hi! My name is Emma Gerard and I make glass jewellery. I have been working with glass for over 10 years now. I attended the Crafts and Design program at Sheridan College (2005-2008) in Oakville, ONwhere I studied glass and I also have an Interdisciplinary Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from NSCAD University (2011-2013) in Halifax, NS.
The main process I have focused on over the years is called flameworking or lampworking. All the work is done at a small torch fueled by oxygen and propane using rods of colored glass about the thickness of a pencil. I heat the glass carefully at the torch and then using that heat, gravity and a couple of my favorite little tools I sculpt the glass into the desired shapes. My main jewellery line, called Candy Shop, is a selection of glass gummy candies.
Q: How did you hear about this show?
A: I used to attend this show with my mum as a kid! When you grow up in the Greater Toronto area it's hard not to hear about it. It's advertised far and wide and customers come from all over Ontario and beyond.
Before I applied for the show myself I worked for a glassblower in the area named Paull Rodrigue, who used to participate in the show. During the time I worked for him I learned so much about what it takes to prep for the show and all the hard work involved in not only making the work, but running a business in the arts.
Q: OOAK is different than a lot of craft shows. Can you tell people what it's like in comparison?
A: It's huge. There are 800+ vendors in one big hall. It's kind of like going to a mall, but better since everything is handmade! On some days the line up of customers outside in the main hall to get to see the show is unreal.
Q: Why did you decide to apply to this show?
A: I first applied to the show back in 2009, I was a teaching assistant in the glass program at Sheridan College at the time and I had spent a good part of that year developing my candy shop line of work. I had participated in a few smaller local shows and had my work in a couple galleries in Toronto and applying for the One of a Kind show seemed like the logical next step to really launch this product.
Q: What's the application and jurying process like? What requirements do you have to meet?
A: The application deadline for the Christmas show is mid-April, it is open to makers living in Canada or the US (where the work must also be made) and you must be heavily involved in the process of making your work.
The application seems quite extensive, but in reality is not that much more involved than your average art show application. The basics: application form, 10 high res images, booth design, studio photos, biography, price list, and a step-by-step product description. It is important to them that your work is handmade and truly "one of a kind" hence the lengthy description of your process and the studio photos. They even visit a few artist's studios through the year as part of their many marketing campaigns and take lots of pictures of the works in progress to highlight even more the handmade nature of the products available to potential customers of the show.
For more information about the requirements and application process to either the Christmas or Spring show visit this very informative section on their website: http://www.oneofakindshow.com/toronto/apply.php
Q: What was the atmosphere like? Who was there? What could you do?
A: As a vendor the atmosphere is lovely as you are surrounded by so many talented people that are part of such a wonderful community. It's also nice to reunite with your fellow vendors that come from far and wide, instead of just seeing them on social media. Add to that all the lovely people who are going to be visiting the show as customers! As mentioned there are 800+ vendors, so there is no shortage of things to see.
Q: What kind of vendor would do well here or not do well here?
A: You would do well at the show if you have a cohesive line and/or style of work. That is one of the things they are looking for in your application. I wouldn't recommend the show to the absolute beginner. Spend a bit of time developing your work, participate in some smaller shows, gets your work out into some local shops. Figure out what works in your line and what doesn't on a small scale before making the leap to OOAK.
Q: What should people considering the show know about it?
A: It's an investment: it's expensive, and time consuming. The cost of a booth is not cheap so you have to make sure you have enough inventory to cover your costs. Most people start their prep by the end of the summer/early fall. Also consider that if you are doing the full show, it's 11 days long. For an artist starting out there are ways to do the show with less financial risk, the best example of this is the Rising Star Section which is where I started. This is a special section for emerging artists where you rent an open concept space by the square foot instead of the larger booths. I had so much fun at my first show because of this open concept area you are so close to your neighbours (who I can pretty much guarantee will be awesome and will become part of the wonderful community as you continue to do the show)
Other things to consider: Do you have a day job? Are you able to take that whole amount of time off? If not, do you have awesome friends or super helpful parents that can come in your stead when you are not able to be there?
Q: Anything else?
A: It all seems scary and intimidating, but be confident in what you make and that will show through in your application and in your product.