Handmade items and craft businesses boom in Edmonton
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The Edmonton craft business is booming, with more and more people turning hobbies from fun pursuits into full-time careers.
Rachel Bingham, designer and owner of Bang Bang Bijoux, is one of those people. She starting creating handmade jewelry from vintage and re-purposed items. when she was 12-years-old, and turned her hobby into a money-making venture during university. After university, it became clear to her that this is what she wanted to be doing full time.
“It’s exploded in the last three months. I noticed after Christmas is really started to get busier. It’s been one year of me doing this (full-time), so it was nice to see I can survive for one year,” she said.
Jenna Hubert, who created Make It! Edmonton and Vancouver, has now started Make It! University where crafty entrepreneurs can learn more about selling handmade wares. Courses include information on pricing and production, public relations and branding.
Hubert has seen a major growth in the craft and handmade industry, and credits the resurgence of do-it-yourself to e-commerce websites like Etsy and rebellion against mass-produced goods, despite handmade items often being pricier than their mass-produced counterparts.
“I do think customers are naturally drawn because they do appreciate that products are handmade. They don’t feel like they’re being gouged because they understand what’s involved; that it’s not mass-produced in China. Not only are you getting something unique and one of a kind, the quality is there. If you spend a little bit more and get something that’s well made, its going to last a whole lot longer,” she said.
The experience of hunting, finding the perfect item and meeting the creator is all part of the magnetism of the handmade world as well.
“It’s such a thrill to hear the story and how it was made and why it was made. You don’t get that experience anywhere else,” Hubert said.
Bingham is also one of the co-organizers of Handmade Mafia, a monthly craft fair that sells vendor wares at Orange Hall in Old Strathcona. Bingman first got involved with Handmade Mafia as a vendor before moving into an organizational role, and fell in love with the community behind Edmonton’s craft scene.
“We all offer each other encouragement. It’s nice to get more honest advice from each other, which I think is the most important thing. It’s good for mentorship.”
The next Handmade Mafia meets June 2 at Orange Hall.
Make It Edmonton is May 11 to 13 at the Alberta Aviation Museum.