Monday, December 6, 2010

Deluxe Indie Craft Bazaar: DIY in action

Deluxe Indie Craft Bazaar characterizes the do-it-yourself entrepreneurship of artists.  Started two years ago, the event features and is planned by artists who handcraft what they sell.  Many create with repurposed materials, from maps to feathers.  The event is Saturday, December 11 from 11 am until 5 pm on the State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City. 
Deluxe founders JD McCoy & Sara Cowan,
photo by Samantha Lamb
To understand a bit more about the event and the small businesswomen behind it, artists Sara Cowan and JD McCoy, below is a short interview with about the event and the artwork.

Q: What inspired you all to start this show and when did it begin?
SC: In 2008, a group of women met to plan a holiday craft show, inspired by other great local shows and more famous "indie" shows in larger cities.

It was important to us to take elements we loved from other shows, and incorporate our own priorities as well. We wanted it to be family-friendly, 100% handmade and have low booth fees, because we don't enjoy holding our breath to see if we'll break even at a show. With a few months of intense work, our first show in December ‘08 was a success.

Q: Tell us about your own artwork. 
SC: My partner in Deluxe, JD McCoy, and I both like to work with textiles. We spend a lot of time developing products that gracefully utilize repurposed garments. For example, she weaves scarves and bracelets made from reclaimed silk sweaters. She also makes custom t-shirt blankets

I make stuffed robot pillows from felted wool sweaters and men's suits. When we share a booth at shows, we call ourselves the Wayward Textile Foundation.
Sara Cowan's robots
Q: I like how you’ve been profiling your artist vendors.  What are some commonalities among your vendors in terms of business practices and/or production? 
SC: Each of our artists designs and produces his or her own items. When you buy something at Deluxe, you can be completely sure that the person who made it is the person selling it to you.

Many Deluxe artists also pay attention to ethical sourcing for their materials, and they take care to support local businesses when possible.

Q:  Any factoids on artists?
SC: Most of our artists are from Oklahoma, but we do have some from Texas, Arkansas and Missouri.  At least three are under 18, and we have a full range of artist ages all the way up to 70-ish. We have 70 artists and 20 community groups at Deluxe, many of whom will be hosting free kids' craft activities. We'd rather give free spaces to deserving groups than to fill booths with redundant or lower-quality products.
Live entertainment runs all day - we'll have Ferris OBrien broadcasting live on The Spy, a performance by the Oklahoma Children's Acting Guild, Skating Polly, Balcum Rancum Puppetry and Kris Nickell, with Sugar Free Allstars headlining at 4:00.
A child making a paper snowflake at Deluxe 
Q: How do you select artists?
SC: Artists submit applications including photos and descriptions of their work. If we are impressed with the originality, quality and marketability of their work, we invite them to participate in the show. As the show grows more popular each year, we receive more applicants, so it's increasingly competitive, especially for jewelry makers. We start taking applications online in late summer.

Q: What has you most fired up about this year?
SC: There are plenty of things to be excited about! 

We're gaining a loyal following, and so many talented new artists will be joining the Deluxe family. One example is the new addition of handmade Luchador wrestling masks and gear from Shawnee.  I was blown away by these fun pieces created by Ron Thompson. His business, Wrestling Wear Galore, has been web-based until now, and I can't wait for him to enjoy the customer response to his work, which I am sure will be enthusiastic. Products like this ensure that shoppers will find something for everyone on their list, even their hard-to-please post-ironic hipster brothers.

Our artists look forward to seeing each other, some say it's like a reunion of sorts to come to Deluxe. We love facilitating these connections and share in their enthusiasm.  I know that this year's Deluxe customers will be thrilled with our selection of high-quality, useful goods made by locals. 

Deluxe has more information and fun artist profiles on their website. The event also will benefit services of Project OKC

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