New York City is bustling with creatives who come from all over to share their talents with the world. The fast paced vibe of the Big Apple can make it difficult to make genuine connections when networking and getting your product on the market, but The Harlem Makers Collective has created an intimate hub for down to earth artisans to showcase their products as well as network with other artists and customers.
Ceramic designer, Jonathan Castro, thinks the warm and inviting setup of the seasonal event is a nice break from the competitive energy that comes with running a small business in a city of 8.6 million people, “Sometimes organizers get big spaces, and get too focused on filling the spots, it gets repetitive and you’ll have like 10 candle makers. There’s not a lot of overlap as far as medium at this market, so we each get highlighted.” The market also gives Castro time to catch up and support long time friends, “Most of us have been on the scene together for five years or more, so it has that family vibe, and we’re super welcoming to newcomers too!”
It’s not uncommon to be an artist who works in different mediums. The Harlem Makers Collective made sure to highlight multi talented artisans like singer / songwriter, Danielle Helena, who showed off her sweet soulful voice midway into the night for the performance portion of the event. Helena’s line of all natural handmade personal care products is what originally brought her to the event as a vendor, “This is really only my second pop up shop, and I already feel like I’ve made new besties here, like oh I like your stuff and want to hang out with you!” She appreciates the opportunity to chop it up with other makers, especially as someone who usually sells her bath teas and shampoo bars at her performances.
The Collective gets plenty of praise for being a smaller event, but they still have a wide variety of products that are made with time and care; a quality Sebastian Mitchell, creator of BOYBEADS, a made to order line of menswear bracelets, believes doesn’t always translate to customers that are used to buying mass produced products,
“People are accustomed to same day shipping and easy returns, extra things that are just not possible for a company that’s making everything to order. So they come to us with an Amazon type mentality, but I realize those people are just not my customer, and that’s what I like about this market, the people here tend to understand and appreciate the value of made to order products. We’re not working with cheap materials.”
While it’s true that microwave culture, the belief that one should want and get whatever they want instantly, is changing how we shop, events like the Harlem Maker’s Collective show us that the appreciation for authentic products that are made with love isn’t going anywhere. You can catch their next showing at Gallery 8 November 15-17.