Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Market SF - More than just another craft fair

In this busy handmade nation, the phrase "craft fair" is tossed around as a great way to get some sun, meet some folks & make money on a weekend. The defining detail that differentiated Market SF from all the rest was that it was an artist market: a venue in which to weekly showcase different artists to a community ready to appreciate the treasures they have to offer.

Jenn Meyer (left) & Christina Richards (right) share a laugh in front of the Blue Macaw.

Conceptualized and founded by Jennifer Meyer of Romey Designs, the beginnings of Market SF were based in a pop-up store in the Mission during the 2009 Holiday Season. Looking to introduce a new collection of handmade wares to the public, a pop up store offered the perfect short-term solution with a temporarily empty retail space and her start up needs. While featuring local talent in her pop-up store, Jenn befriended Christina Richards of Finch Design and Daniel Robb of Daniel Robb Design. With their shared passion for art and desire to want to do more to help local artists emerge into a marketplace becoming more and more appreciative of handmade goods, they decided to forge a business partnership.

Market SF opened their doors anew at the Blue Macaw (2565 Mission St, between 21st & 22nd) on the 19th of June, 2010, to a sunny afternoon filled with over 25 hand-picked vendors, a DJ and $5 drink & French sandwich specials all day!

Another unique aspect of Market SF was that not only was it a place to view local art; it was a gathering place to get to know local artists and their stories! On my trip to their first show, I was greeted warmly and instantly felt like I'd found something different. The music wafting through the air and the smiles from behind the tables let me know everyone was having a good day.

This customer (who was travelling from Australia) commented that he'd never known anything as unique as StudioKin's Scrabble Tile pendants! He couldn't believe all the local talent we've got in San Francisco and couldn't wait to share it with his mates back home!

One of Jenn's goals is to make Market SF a San Francisco staple to find fresh talent with superior products, much like Portland, OR features Saturday Market under the Burnside Bridge every weekend. Said best in their mission statement found on their website:
"Market SF specializes in helping artists find patrons... and patrons find art they love. By marketing the artist's work to galleries, stores and independent buyers, Market SF takes the 'business' out of the creative cycle and allows artists to continue doing what they do best... creating art."

And artists get a chance to do the fun part of business: make lasting connections!

Even if there's a lull in traffic, the artists feel completely comfortable getting up and going to talk to other artists about their work and show their support. Aimee of Aimee Diane Designs (from our very own SF Etsy Team) said of her time at Market SF:
"I met several other sellers... as well as other SF Etsy team members just out shopping for support. There (were) positive comments from customers as well as support from other sellers and SF Etsy folks. Although I didn't make any sales, several people saw my face, saw my stuff, took my card, and made positive comments so it's encouraging and reminds me not to give up... and that some tangible good will come of it at some point."

Aimee Diane Designs worked on amazing wire & beaded earrings throughout the artist market, demonstrating to an audience how much work goes into crafting artisan jewelry.

But it's not all-business-all-day! The indie tunes pump their way through the venue and drink specials (along with some local favorites on tap) keep on flowin', Market SF has a fantastically fun vibe - whether it be at the bar, talking art with new friends, or up front on the sidewalk, trying to draw in the Saturday afternoon shoppers.

Jenn Meyer does her best to draw the shoppers with the greatest crowd-pleaser around - The Running Man!

Mentioned not only by awesome sites like 7 X 7, Little Paper Planes and Daily Candy, Market SF is supported by the artists who vend at the shows! Lots of our own SF Etsy Team members have featured the collection of talent on their blogs! Abigail from Jargonhead Studios talks about her experience on her blog:
"The organizers of Market-SF are excellent people and very interested in promoting local art. We had a lot of traffic in from the street. This is the first art fair I have ever been involved in where all the work was fantastic. Every vendor had excellent work, and excellent prices. Although the economy is bad right now, it is so important to support local artists. Market-SF is a perfect example of how to do that."

With sun streaming in through the entryway, Abigail from Jargonhead Studios smiles & greets new customers at her table with her prints.

Since Market SF is a fairly new show, vendors being proactive in event promotion is an excellent way to draw traffic. Jenn, Christina and Daniel have done a lot of promotional activities, including speaking to PR reps and taking out Google Ads, but the richest experiences have always been from folks that have been personally invited to come & have a great time.

DIY tactics of marketing have been relatively well-received, since they're catered to the Mission's overall aesthetic: canvasing street corners, leaving flyers at local coffee houses, putting up signs at local businesses and even sidewalk chalk messages with arrows (an excellent tip picked up from the recent SF Etsy Trunk Show) help draw traffic.

One way that I've found that helps vendors be proactive in promoting the show they will be showcased at is by making a themed Treasury!

By doing something as simple as making a treasury, we create a free & easy-to-use marketing tool that allows vendors to display their work (and that of other local artists!) to their fan base on different social media pages. Nothing is more flattering than when someone comes up to your booth and says "Wow! That's the item I saw on site that made me want to come out today!"

A lot of people have asked me if I was part of the Market SF team, but the truth is that Christina just e-mailed me one day to ask me if I would like to be featured. Having never done a craft show before, the main selling point was how they tailored the market to my business - as an artist, as a crafter, as a vendor and as a person. The hands-on support that I received from them throughout the show made me feel so comfortable that I couldn't help but want to tell people about it.

The spirit of Market SF breathes new life into the handmade movement of our generation. In our little corner of the world, we can say that artists are making a difference; not only getting seen, but being appreciated & celebrated. The more that we're able to support local handmade and sustain small businesses the way that Market SF does for its community, the better the chance that we'll have at making a difference. Market SF is more than a craft fair; it's a move in the right direction.

If you're an artist and are interested in doing a show, feel free to check them out at!

Steph Cort├ęs from nerd JERK is the Roving Reporter, one of the newest members of the SF Etsy Blog Team. She enjoys going out to new crafting events and supporting the handmade movement. Look forward to more reports on her artsy shenanigans in weeks to come. Feel free to email her comments & tips on shows anytime.

If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Jen from Mama's Magic Studio about joining SFEtsy!


Jamie Creason said...

Awesome blog report! I have seen the emails about this show~it is nice to get more info on it!

this humble abode said...

I've met Jen several times at other shows and will definitely be signing up to sell at Market SF.

PinkyCrafts on Etsy said...

Great blog post - it really makes me wish I was closer to SF so I could have attended this fun event!

jargonheadstudios said...

Great article Steph! This is a great event, and well worth attending/participating!

Aimee Diane Designs said...

Great article! Thanks for the mention! See you this Saturday!

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