February Meet the Maker Featuring Robin's Lullaby Boutique

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This month we are excited to introduce you to Robin Colion from Robin's Lullaby Boutique out of Houston, Texas! Robin makes handcrafted custom baby essentials. As you may know, summers in Texas are HOT, and on those days Robin would spend time in her grandmothers craft room. She remembers sitting next to her grandmother at the sewing machine and learning a ton! Robin recalls the first thing she ever sewed was a quilt for one of her baby dolls (we'd love to see a photo of that)! 

After her grandmother passed away Robin and her sister were sorting through her belongings and she came across that same sewing machine, which she took home with her. The rediscovery of the sewing machine came at the perfect time in life, and Robin began sewing burp cloths, bibs, and baby bodysuits and opened her Etsy shop. "I love sewing and I love babies
so this is the perfect combination for me," she says. The name of her shop, Robin's Lullaby Boutique, came from the songs Robin would sing to her girls as babies while she rocked them to sleep.

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Robin's favorite part of her handmade biz is working closely with her customers to create one of a kind and meaningful pieces, "I love hearing from people about how their order is for their dear family member or friend who is having a baby. It makes me proud to know something I physically made with my own two hands is going to be cherished by a mother for the rest of her life." Robin's beautiful pieces have been a wonderful addition to our shop, and she's even made us some Michigan themed bodysuits for your little ones as well. You can shop Robin's Lullaby Boutique by visiting us on Water Street, or clicking the button below! 

January Meet the Maker Featuring Papyrusaurus

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Hey 2018! After a month off we are so excited to re-start introducing to you to our makers each and every month. We are kicking things off with Ashley Aranda from Papyrusaurus (currently based in Long Island New York)! Ashley is originally from Pennsylvania and has also spent some time in Savannah, Georgia while attending The Savannah College of Art & Design. She's obviously always been the creative type, but adulting and being a mommy to two boys took up a good chunk of her time until one day she sat down and started "tinkering with some paper crafts."

What she came up with that day was a beautiful ornament made from book pages. Ashley really liked it and decided to make more, friends encouraged her to open an Etsy shop, she got an order from a large gallery the second year in, started doing shows, and the rest as they say is history. Ashley says, "I kind of really stumbled into it." We hear from a lot of makers that they start in this unknowing kind of way and love hearing the success stories that come from picking up and doing something that they love and are passionate about! The name of her business came in a random way as well. Ashley and her boy were watching Dinosaur Train (specifically the Dinosaur Alphabet episode), with paper in her hands the name popped into her head as she was signing along.

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Some of her favorite parts of having this business are shopping used book stores and flea markets for supplies, and brainstorming new ideas for the holidays! Papyrusaurus is Ashley's "full-time-blood-sweat-and-tears-gig" and we're so happy she does it + sells her amazingly handcrafted items in our shop. They are truly one of a kind! You can shop Papyrusaurus items by stopping in to our shop, visiting her online by clicking below, or following her on social media to find out what show she'll be at next (she does A LOT).

November Meet the Maker Featuring Maiden Hands

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This month we are very pleased to introduce you to Karlee Miller, the Michigan based maker behind Maiden Hands. Karlee was born/raised and still resides in our great state of Michigan. She grew up with a mom and grandmother that crocheted beautiful afghans and it was a skill that Karlee had always wanted to learn. About five years ago, while on maternity leave, Karlee got her mom to show her the in's and out's of crocheting and it finally stuck, she says "I just can't seem to put down my crochet hook!"

About a year after learning this new craft friends and family members started asking about hats and scarves and she decided to start selling them at that point. A friend came up with the name for her business. Karlee explains, "if you haven’t caught on its “made in hands” (aka Michigan) with a womanly twist." (Ahhhh, we get it now)! Her favorite parts in the process are the very beginning stages when a customer sends her a request, the end when she gets to see and hold the final product, and also being able to see a customers response to what she has made special just for them!

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Karlee has a Bachelor's Degree in Graphic Design which has come in handy in her small business. She works full-time and Maiden Hands is very much a creative outlet for her at the current time. In addition to crochet items, she also gets several requests for custom wooden signs. Maiden Hands joined the Half Mile Handmade family in the summer of 2017 when we opened our booth inside City Market and we have been so happy to stock her adorable cup cozy's! 

You can shop Maiden Hands products by stopping in to see us or contacting Karlee directly through her Facebook or Instagram.

October Meet the Maker Featuring The Crooked Dollhouse

This month we get to introduce you to Cheyenne Taylor the owner and maker at The Crooked Dollhouse! Chey is Michigan born and raised and currently lives in Vassar. Like many of our makers, she has always had an interest and hand in being crafty and also enjoys photography. She says, "Creating and capturing beautiful things is uber relaxing for me, so I’m incredibly lucky to have a job that allows me to do both!"

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In 2014 Chey was given a box full of broken family jewelry that she decided she would fix. She mended chains, added charms, and put some life back into the pieces that had been unused for so long. From there jewelry making just stuck and in 2015 she decided to make a business of creating her own unique designs created start to finish by hand! The name of her business, The Crooked Dollhouse, is unique just like each piece she makes and the people that wear it.

Jewelry making is her full time job and there is no part in the process that Chey does not completely adore. She even says that packaging up orders brings her a lot of joy, "I always get excited when shipping an order, because it means I get to package everything up super cute." We have been lucky to stock The Crooked Dollhouse pieces since we opened in 2016 and love that her inventory is always changing and fresh. You can shop her jewelry buy stopping in to see us on Water Street or by clicking the link below!

September Meet the Maker Featuring Heather Made Designs

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Introducing our featured maker for the month of September, Heather, from Heather Made Designs! Heather is Grand Rapids, Michigan born and raised and has had an affinity for arts and crafts from a very young age. Her mother always encouraged Heather and her sister to create and taught them many crafty skills such as sewing, crocheting, knitting, and even drawing lessons! When Heather got married, her mom bought her a Featherweight Sewing Machine as a wedding gift so she could continue to make things for her family.

The skills she acquired as a child and gift of the sewing machine were the "building blocks" for Heather Made Designs. Heather was creating more things than her family and friends needed and the business side of things really got going after she signed up for a couple craft shows and loved them! Going to these events has even allowed her to meet other makers, many of which are close friends now. She says buying fabric is her favorite part in the creative process (we know that feeling all too well, Heather!) because she is able to choose colorful patterns to use together in her work.

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Heather Made Designs is a hobby and part-time endeavor that she has been doing for 12 years - double digits! When she's not busy sewing she spends time with her hubby and three kiddos! You can check out Heather's products at one of her upcoming shows (9/16: Eastern & Alger Pop-Up Market or 9/22-9/23: Farm Girl Flea) by stopping into our shop on Water Street, or by clicking the link below. We have loved having Heather's baby items in our shop - they're just adorable! 

August Meet the Maker Featuring Boonie Patch Co.

Today, we are excited to introduce you to Boonie Patch Co., our first 'maker-duo' since starting this series on our blog! Boonie Patch Co. started in March of 2016 out of Toledo, OH and is owned by Greg Patrisso and Natalie Deeb. The two of them were always doodling in notebooks and sketchbooks in college and came up with the idea that they wanted to start a creative business of some sort with these drawings. In the beginning they didn't know it would end up being amazing pins and patches but after weeks of talking and research they decided this would be the best route for them to pursue (and we're SO GLAD they did)! After deciding to make patches they had two ready to sell within the first month!

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A simple, but effective brainstorming session is the story behind their company name. (Natalie and Greg said they get asked this question a lot). They made a list of potential business names, and Boonie is the one that stuck. Natalie says, "we cannot even imagine a different name being attached to our products and our brand!"

As almost all of our makers have said, creating graphics in Adobe Illustrator is their favorite part in the creative process. They love making new designs come to life and posting sneak peeks for customers. Another fun aspect they have been pursuing more is collaborating with other local Toledo artists on projects. Both Greg and Natalie are still in school, working part-time, and consider Boonie Patch Co. a full-time endeavor on top of that. As most creative entrepreneurs are aware, you spend a lot more time than you'd think building your business and brand, it's pretty easy to work your way up to 40+ hours a week on top of everything else you have going on! Kudos, by the way you two!

We have loved having Boonie Patch Co.'s trendy products in our shop since the beginning of this year and we look forward to seeing what designs they'll come up with for us next! You can find their products by visiting our shop on Water Street, clicking the link below, or by stopping to say hi at one of their many upcoming shows (they're seriously EVERYWHERE)!

July Meet the Maker Featuring Adore Jules

Today we are thrilled to tell you all about our friend Nancy Lacke from Adore Jules out of Columbus, Ohio! Nancy was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and growing up was naturally surrounded by "art, museums, theatre, fashion, etc. and her family exposed her to ALL OF IT." (She says, 'thanks mom and dad')! Nancy says her jewelry obsession began with a special gift from her dad at the age of 5.  It was a sterling ring with an aqua crystal, and YES, she still has it! Being creative has played a big role in Nancy's life from youth to young mom to the present.

As her children got older, she started taking drawing classes and later jewelry making classes. She started out making pieces for family and friends. One of her nieces along the way suggested opening an Etsy shop, which Nancy did, and that's how her small business started. Nancy credits the name of her business to divine intervention. She explains, "I can remember sitting at my desk at work brainstorming ideas for my business. I thought about the adore chapel at my church and that word, "adore" - I adore jewels, but didn't want to spell jewels in the usual way so I changed it to 'jules.'"

Nancy graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewhater with a degree in Education, and taught for a period of time. Today she has a full-time job, but Adore Jules is her passion and over time has evolved from a hobby to a full blown business. As most of our makers have told us, the creation process is her absolute favorite! She incorporates everything into her unique jewelry pieces from gemstones, to vintage items, hand stamping, leather, and much more.

Adore Jules has been part of our shop since day one and Nancy has even made the 5 hour trek from Columbus, Ohio to see our shop in person. She also donates a portion of all of her sales to Dress for Success Columbus, and is offering all of you 15% off her site all month long using code "halfmile15"! You can find Adore Jules at our shop, online by clicking the button below, at Gervasi Vinyard Fine Arts & Crafts Show (July 23rd), or at the Made Local Marketplace Fall Show (October 7th). 

June Meet the Maker Featuring Spoonfeather Designs

Today we have the pleasure of introducing you to Heather Spooner from Spoonfeather Designs out of Detroit, Michigan! Heather is a hand-letterer that puts her penmanship on everything from paper to sun hats. Most of her childhood was spent practicing her handwriting. She explains that she, "was always the kid who got asked to make poster for school fundraisers, draw on other students paper bag book covers and design group project." As she grew up friends still continued to ask her to letter fun projects for them, and it seemed like a good business idea to run with!

When we asked Heather to tell us how she named her business she said, "when you have the last name Spooner, you obviously have to use it in your business name! Most of my childhood, people called me Heather Feather, so I thought combining words to play off of my name would be a great way to infuse my personality into my business and help my customers remember my name." She says her favorite part of her creative process is working with clients to create timeless decor pieces.

Spoonfeather Designs is Heather's full time job, and she is constantly working on adding "relevant and interesting products" to her business, including hand lettering classes that just launched this year! Heather has been with us since day one and we just love her thoughtfully made prints, greeting cards, and now globes available in our shop! She welcomes all of you to contact her with custom inquiries at spoonfeatherdesigns@yahoo.com, and you can always shop her goods in our store, or on Etsy too!

May Meet the Maker Featuring Comfortably Lovely

We are excited to tell you all about Shannon McCarthy the maker behind Detroit based, Comfortably Lovely! At Comfortably Lovely, Shannon currently focuses on making recycled paper goods and accessories. Shannon says she's "a little obsessed with all things vintage" and loves that she can "borrow from nostalgic by-gone times in both feel and material" in her work. She started her handmade career making collages with vintage papers, and in 2004 launched an Etsy shop selling vintage clothing and other items. 

She realized she needed a name for her business quickly and it came to her in the form of a song. The chorus of "I Love My Shirt" by Donovan came on her turntable where he sings the words 'comfortably lovely' in reference to loving older/well loved items that are still wonderfully usable, and the name stuck. Shannon says, "GOOGLE IT" which we've taken the liberty of doing for you :) Listen to the song here

Currently, Comfortably Lovely is a part-time endeavor for Shannon, she is focusing on online sales as well as selling in more brick and mortar shops (*AHEM shop owners* contact her)! Her favorite part of the creative process is searching for and finding old books and maps to use in her products and we absolutely LOVE the outcome. Comfortably Lovely has been part of the Half Mile Handmade family since DAY ONE and everyone adores her local themed pins and magnets. Shop Comfortably Lovely goods by stopping in to our store or clicking the link below!

April Meet the Maker Featuring KP Studio

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Today we have the pleasure of introducing you to Krista Pischner the owner and artist of Grand Rapids based KP Studio! KP Studio focuses on fruit, veggie, and herb illustrations and home goods. A couple of unique life experiences led Krista to begin KP Studio the first of which are some cherished childhood memories. She recalls, "I grew up in a little northern Michigan town, Charlevoix, where I spent my summers growing and watering veggies in our family garden. During those summers my mom taught me how to cook." The second was in her senior year of college when she started focusing on farm to table communities. Krista started altering her diet and recognizing the positive changes in her body and lifestyle and began painting photos and illustrating different fruits and vegetables.

After college she planted a garden and started illustrating recipes which she turned into a coloring book (her first product) and has been hooked on the idea of making this a business ever since! Her business, of course, is named after her! She says, "I wanted my business name to reflect my lifestyle and artistic brand," but it's something she said she may change up in the future. Her favorite part in the creative process can go one of two ways, "making a really good dish/recipe and then wanting to draw it! Or vise versa!"

Krista earned a bachelors degree in Sociology & Studio Art at Aquinas College and currently lives and works in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When she's not working on things for KP Studio she is a full time Senior Property Manager for Dwelling Place as well as a part-time manager at Dime & Regal (we don't know how you do it all, kudos girl)! You can find KP Studio goods by stopping in to see us, visiting her at Made in Michigan Pop-Up Marketplace on June 24th, or by clicking the link below. We are so glad that she is part of the Half Mile Handmade family!

March Meet the Maker Featuring Outsider Art Jewelry

We are thrilled to introduce you to Cherie Davila, the creative behind Outsider Art Jewelry today! Cherie makes unique jewelry with all upcycled pieces from her home in Saginaw, Michigan. When her grandmother passed away some broken but sentimental pieces of jewelry were left behind. From there Cherie taught herself how to incorporate them into new wearable pieces and started a business doing so in 1995. Since then she has sold her jewelry in many boutiques and at art shows.

In her craft she uses "old broken or cast off jewelry, hardware pieces, and other found objects" that come together to make a brilliant and unique style of jewelry all her own. Wouldn't you agree? Cherie has shipped her jewelry all over the world including the UK, the Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, China, Australia, France and Croatia. We're sure she'd love to work on any custom pieces you might have in mind, too!

From start to finish, Cherie has a hand in every part of her process; from finding materials, creating jewelry, photographing, and eventually shipping pieces, it's all her! That's enough to keep anyone busy! We love looking at each piece that she brings to the shop and imagining what it might have been before Cherie transformed in into the beautiful piece in front of us. You can find her at Keepsake Collection at Horizon Conference Center (April 8th), Art and Garden Festival at Anderson Enrichment Center (June 7th), by stopping in to Half Mile Handmade, or by clicking the link below.

February Meet the Maker Featuring Never Felt Better Co.

Today we are introducing you to April Frost, the maker behind Never Felt Better Co! Originally from South Dakota, April is now a proud Michigander who has been living in Grand Rapids for the past three years. She has an undergraduate degree in Psych and a graduate degree in Political Science, both from the University of South Dakota. Initially, April began her handmade biz after making some felt flowers for her daughter first birthday. She enjoyed it so much that she found herself making wreaths and other home decor that included these felt flower accents soon after. Then, one day while looking for inspiration she stumbled upon some modern macrame pieces and has put most of her focus into making these types of pieces as well as doing some beautiful hand dyed tapestries. While she does still do some felt flower items she says she "loves the rhythm of macrame and gets lost in the cadence."

April says the name of her business came to her one night while she was laying in bed. Originally, the word "felt" had a dual meaning based on her work with felt flowers. Although over time her craft and business has changed, the name has stuck, "Never Felt Better fits me perfectly, and I can't part with it," she says. Her favorite part in the process is the actual physical making of each piece, April says it's easy to get lost in the rhythm (which we find totally believable)! 

Never Felt Better Co is April's "part-time" gig as she is a full-time mommy when she's not creating. She has been selling her hand crafted felt flower pieces in our shop since day one, and we feel lucky to call her a part of our family! Her favorite pieces to work on currently are the dip dyed tapestries. She says, "they are big, bold, and beautiful and each takes a good chunk of time and focus, but also makes them the most rewarding." You can find Never Felt Better Co pieces by clicking the button below or stopping into Half Mile Handmade.

A Review of Maker Mini Session #1: Starting Your Small Business

To say the least, we were blown away by the talent that surrounded us in a room of entrepreneurs at the Delta College Planetarium last night. The group may have appeared small in numbers to some, but the ideas, motivation, and heart was larger than life. First, we have to start by saying a big THANK YOU to Patrick from the SBDC Great Lakes Bay Region for a relevant and actionable presentation about how to start your very own small business. Patrick started by giving us all some important things to think about when taking your business idea from 'inspiration to reality.' Then we got into the nitty gritty of legalities, paperwork, and costs associated with making your business legit and learned A LOT.

Toward the beginning of his presentation, Patrick asked each person in the room to introduce themselves, their business or business idea, and tell a bit about what they hoped to get out of this session. No two people in the room were exactly the same. Each person was at a different stage in the process; whether that be getting ideas down on paper, on the cusp of legitimizing their business, and even a few that have been at it for a bit looking for advice and affirmation. We absolutely loved seeing everyone from different backgrounds with different goals come together and learn - an awesome evening for sure! 

One of our biggest takeaways from the night was how much networking can benefit and impact you and your business. Don't be afraid to share your ideas with others' and bask in the knowledge, conversations, and connections that the simple act of talking can bring your way. Networking and collaboration is what has driven us to put these sessions together for you! Will we see you at our next session on February 1st on the topic of Taxes & Accounting? RSVP HERE!

Photo from Sarah at Angeline Kay Art + Design.

Photo from Sarah at Angeline Kay Art + Design.

January Meet the Maker Featuring Jordyn Alison Designs

We are so excited to tell you all about Jordyn Carmien the creative behind Jordyn Alison Designs today on the blog! She is Bay City born and raised; attending school at Western, John Glenn, Delta and now Saginaw Valley State University where she is studying for her degree in Graphic Design. Jordyn says she has always been into drawing and creativity, especially in the summer time thanks to her dad. Card making is something she initially started doing for family and friends simply because she enjoyed it. When she met her boyfriend, she started taking things a bit more seriously and opened her Etsy shop, which today offers 100+ items (WOW)! Then when he joined the Air Force, she became even more serious about making this fun-venture into a business-venture and started focusing on LDR cards, which are hard to come by! She recalls, "I will never forget the feeling of getting two 10 card orders the weekend he left for boot camp, it was almost as if it was a sign that I'm doing the right thing." 

Jordyn felt there was nothing more unique than her name, which is now Jordyn Alison (her first and middle name) Designs came to be! Her favorite part of her creative small business is the number opportunities to meet new people that it brings. Although she's a self-proclaimed-introvert, she says all of the practice has paid off and made her confident and proud of the products that she makes and she loves talking to people at her craft shows! Jordyn especially enjoys connecting with others' also involved in LDR's and getting to share their stories with one another, "knowing those cards mean so much more to them is very rewarding." Besides her LDR cards, her 'Smart Cookie' card has been a fan favorite too!

When Jordyn isn't being creative she gets excited about traveling and exploring new places. Jordyn Alison Designs has been part of our shop since the beginning, and we have loved seeing all of the fun designs of cards she continues to bring in month after month. For now, this is a part-time job for her while in college, but after graduation she hopes to be doing this full-time! You can find Jordyn Alison Designs by clicking the button below or stopping into Half Mile Handmade!

December Meet the Maker Featuring Real Simple Candle Co.

Emily Collins is the creative behind the hand poured soy candles at Real Simple Candle Co. A Michigan girl, through and through; Emily grew up in Rochester Hills, attended college at Michigan Tech and now resides in Battle Creek, MI. Her academic and professional background are highly scientific but she has always made it a point to balance that side of her life with an equally creative side. Emily has been making things throughout her life, starting with kitting and crocheting. She has also dabbled in photography, graphic design, wool dying and spinning. It's neat to see how these experiences have culminated into her running her own creative small business! Lots of trial and error led to the perfection that is Real Simple Candle Co. which opened its doors for business on Etsy in June of 2016. 

The name of her business truly embodies the vision and purpose of her products. Emily did not want dyes, busy designs, or extravagant fragrances in her candle line, "I wanted someone to look at a picture of that candle and already know what it's going to be like when it shows up at their door," she says. 

We are so lucky to have stumbled upon Emily and her candles on Instagram shortly after we opened - these fun scents have definitely been a fan favorite at the shop! Emily says it's hard to pick a favorite part in the process of making her candles, "pouring hot, delicious wax is amazingly satisfying," she also enjoys buying and testing out new fragrances and designing the packaging. At the moment,  Real Simple Candle Co. is Emily's side hustle, she works full-time for an engineering company, but hopes one day to focus entirely on her small biz. You can find Real Simple Candle Co. online by clicking the button below or stopping in to Half Mile Handmade! 

November Meet the Maker Featuring Delirious Blue Jewelry

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Kirsten McIlvenna is the creative behind the eco-friendly and unique pieces at Delirious Blue Jewelry! She has spent time in places all over Michigan, and after graduating from Saginaw State University found the first place that felt like home right here in Bay City! Kirsten now lives and works in Kalamazoo, MI but visits Bay City as often as she can. Kirsten grew up creating, and for a while she says it seemed like she would pick up a new hobby almost every year. Then in 2012 when she tried making jewelry, it stuck! Only four short months into her jewelry making adventure she opened her Etsy shop. She recalls that her first sale ever was a pair of bottle cap earrings for $4. Since then, she has put more time, effort, and focus into her small business and now offers over 50 different one-of-a-kind and environmentally conscious pieces in her shop.

We just love the story of where the name of her business comes from too! So much so, that we are just going to quote her story verbatim... "In high school I played French horn in the concert band. During my junior year, we played a song called "Where Never Lark Nor Eagle Flew" which was inspired by the poem "High Flight." Beyond it being a beautiful song that I continued to listen to via my iPod, in it was the most beautiful horn solo, which I got to play. It was the first time I was truly proud of my abilities in playing. At the concert, I heard the poem read for the first time, and I loved it as well. Delirious Blue comes from part of the poem:"

Kirsten is another maker that has been with us since the day we opened, and I am very lucky to be able to call her a personal friend as well. Her absolute favorite part of the process is actual creation, "it's that moment when we imagine a new idea and then get to play and experiment and see it come to life." Speaking of, we are pretty excited to see how this Bay City skyline cuff bracelet turns out! Kirsten works full time as the Communications Director for the non-profit, International Child Care. She also takes classes at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts to develop her skills as a metal smith and is currently in her third semester. Go see Kirsten in person at Kalamazoo Vintage Market, or click below to get your Delirious Blue Jewelry pieces online.

Shop Handmade for the Holidays

I'm willing to bet that you can find the perfect gift for everyone on your list by shopping handmade this holiday season! We are definitely here to help you with that, but beyond our brick and mortar shop (that is open 6 days a week, and has hundreds of handmade items to choose from) there are plenty of craft shows to attend and find the perfect gift! I've asked some of our makers to share their upcoming shows with me and am making one gigantic shopping list to share with all of you! Hopefully, at least one of these is in your area! 

November 5, 2016 (Saginaw, MI): Valley Lutheran High School Holiday Bazaar (9am-3pm)
November 5, 2016 (Auburn, MI): Alpaca Fall Bazaar
November 11-13, 2016 (Bay City, MI): Baxman Market Holiday Open House
November 12, 2016 (Bexley, OH): Mini Market
November 13, 2016 (Columbus, OH):
November 19, 2016 (Saginaw, MI): St Matthew's Episcopal Bazaar
November 19, 2016 (Columbus, OH): Not Your Mama's Craft Market
November 20, 2016 (Fenton, MI): State Road Arts & Crafts Show
November 26. 2016 (Flint, MI): 10th Annual Flint Handmade Holiday Craft Market
December 1-4 (Chicago, IL): One of a Kind Show & Sale
December 2-4, 2016 (Detroit, MI): Detroit Urban Craft Fair
December 3, 2016 (Pittsburgh, PA): Handmade Arcade
December 3, 2016 (Traverse City, MI): Traverse City Shop & Sip
December 3, 2016 (Bay City, MI):  3rd Annual Holiday Bazaar
December 4, 2016 (Monroe, MI): Christmas at the Cottage
December 7, 2016 (Bay City, MI): Half Mile Handmade Holiday Open House
December 8, 2016 (Indianapolis, IN): Yelp Presents Totally Bazaar
December 8-9, 2016 (Bay City, MI): Best Chrismas Ever
December 10-11, 2016 (Ypsilanti, MI): DIYpsi Holiday Market
December 10, 2016 (Columbus, OH): Craftin' Outlaws Holiday Show

If it's been a while since you've been to a craft show/bazaar, now is the time to check one out. There are SO many talented and creative makers there are out there - I guarantee you won't leave empty handed! We've also put together a shoppers guide to help you prepare for the handmade craft show shopping experience.

Do you have a show we should add to the line up here? Send us the details at hello@halfmilehandmade.com and we'll add it immediately! Shop til you drop! 

P.S If you're a maker and want to promote your shows FOR FREE we've got a list of tips for you here.

October Meet the Maker Featuring BoxBerry

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Erin Bonham is the creative behind the greeting cards at BoxBerry! She grew up in Gladwin, Michigan, attended college at Ferris State University, and now lives in Chicago, Illinois. Memories and moments from her past have played a big part in how she got started making greeting cards - she says, "I've been a lifelong doodler so the illustrations came easy. Like most girls of the 90's I had an obsession for the wildly colorful stationery products of Lisa Frank. As a kid, I loved going through my mother's writing desk that always seemed to be stocked with whimsical stationery, stamps, and greeting cards." In 2013, she started creating cards to send to her pen pals and sold them on Etsy as well as local shops and craft shows. Initially, she offered about eight designs, and now has upwards of 40 available.

The name of her business actually comes from a plant, the Boxberry (aka Teaberry). Erin explains, "growing up, I was lucky enough to live next door to my grandmother who had a couple teaberry plants in her yard. Around age 5, she introduced me to the plant and its minty edible berries so naturally I assumed this was a magical plant that only grew at her home. I loved that feeling I got when I went searching for the tea berries so I wanted my card line to represent that same feeling." Bonus fun fact, Erin actually has a Boxberry plant tattooed on her arm!

Erin has been with us from the very beginning of our shop and even donated an item to the ultimate-handmade-giveaway at our grand opening; it has truly been a pleasure working with her. Illustration is Erin's favorite part of her creative process. She says her second favorite thing is printing the card and actually seeing the final product for the first time. (We bet that does feel amazing!) In addition to her creative small business, Erin is a freelance graphic designer. Go see Erin in person at One of a Kind Show & Sale December 1-4 in Chicago, or click the link below to get your BoxBerry goods online!

How to Shop Craft Shows

Craft shows are no joke! Are you ready to shop handmade?

There are a handful of simple things you should consider bringing with you to craft shows to be completely prepared for a great day of shopping.

1) Cash. Although most makers have a Square or other method for collecting credit card payments, not all of them have that technology available. Take cash with you to guarantee that you'll be able to actually purchase any item that catches your eye. (HINT for makers, if you don't have a Square and you want one, sign up here and we can both get some fee-free processing. P.S. It's FREE to get a card reader). 

2) Reusable bag(s). It's far easier to carry 1-2 large bags full of goodies than a number of smaller bags from the various makers you purchase from. You'll thank yourself for this one! 

3) A pen & special place for business cards. This one comes from our friend Lisa at Blue Martinis Designs! When you come across a maker or an item that you don't want to buy that day, but think you may get something at a later date, get their card and write down what it was that you were interested in purchasing from them. Then keep all of those business cards in a ziploc bag, or other separate space so they don't drift to the bottom of your purse, never to be seen again ;) 

4) Snacks & water. If you're planning to make a day of it, make sure to take some nourishment! Many shows will also plan to have a food truck or other source of food present, but in the event that they do not, you'll definitely want to have your own fuel to keep you in the shopping zone!

Yes, etiquette! Make sure that you, your partners-in-shopping-crime, and any little ones are on their best behavior when you go to craft shows! 


Don't barter. A PSA from our friend Danielle at The Little Things, backed by us! If you didn't go to business school, then you may not know there is a steadfast formula for pricing goods and services; an even more complicated formula for those that are tasked with pricing their own handmade goods. The prices are what they are for a reason, please don't try to offer less or try to finagle a "two-for" deal.

Keep the 'I could make that' comments to yourself. It will literally cost you $92 worth of supplies, plus time, and probably 3-4 complete fails before you get it right. Take my advice, this breaks makers hearts, plain and simple don't do it.


Ask to take photos. A tip from Andrea at 614 Knit Studio! Sometimes you need a second opinion before you take the plunge and purchase something, and makers get that. Chances are they are going to let you photograph an item, but please do them the courtesy of asking first!

Take and post a photo of your haul. One thing that makes the hearts of creatives across the land happiest is seeing their products in use, in their new home, or just included in a collection of other handmade items you got at the show. Make sure to tag them in the photo so they actually see it. (HINT, if you have a private profile, send a direct message to the maker of the photo you took/posted otherwise they won't be able to see it even if you have tagged them).

My haul from the Craftin' Outlaws Spring 2016 Show featuring Kill Taupe, Logan Schmitt Illustration, and Jodi Lynn Doodles.

Do you have any "must takes" when you head to shop at a craft show? Leave your suggestions in the comments! 

P.S. I often come up with the general topics for these blog posts myself, but sometimes I need a little help from my friends! I have an amazing community of creatives that I turn to and ask for input to get my wheels turning. In addition to the makers already mentioned, I'd also say that this blog post is brought to you by the following:

Katie at The Chair Parade
Tessa at Ben Boh Botanicals
Shannon at Comfortably Lovely
Chandra at Wheatland Avenue Designs
Cherie at Outsider Art Jewelry

Thank you all for taking the time out of your day to share your thoughts and ideas, I appreciate you!


How to Promote Your Craft Shows FOR FREE

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! Okay, not *quite* but it’s going to be here before we know it – the holidays! For those with creative small businesses, this is often the busiest and most stressful yet rewarding time of the year. It’s always a good idea to start gearing up as soon as possible (easier said than done, I know). Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to promote your holiday craft shows to get you in the spirit! These methods are free, easy, and don’t take too much time so you can get back to making allllllll that inventory - let’s get to it!

If you sell on Etsy you can utilize Etsy Local, which is a resource for customers looking to purchase handmade items in person rather than online (or maybe both). Type “Etsy Local” into your favorite search engine, or click here. Put the location of your show in the search bar and see if it comes up. If it does, all you have to do is click on the event name and then click the "I'm participating" button. You'll have 140 characters to give people a little preview of what you'll be bringing to the show. If you don’t see your event listed I would recommend contacting the organizer of the show to create the event rather than taking it upon yourself to do it. The organizer will have all of the information such as date, time, address, and event details, plus they will be able to notify the other show vendors that the Etsy Local event has been created. Once you've added your shop info, your shop will show up when people look at Etsy Local for shows in their area and it will show up on your shop under the "Local" tab.

Before I get into social media, it’s worth mentioning that you’ll more than likely have to do a lot of the work from a computer of some sort. I typically can’t do most of these actions on behalf of my business page from the Facebook app on my phone, so I do get on my desktop or laptop for most of this.

For Facebook, if you have a business page you can add the event to your page. Find the event for the show on Facebook, and then click the "..." button located in the upper right corner underneath the event cover photo and select "Add to Page..." Another window will pop up asking which page you'd like to add it to, just make sure you pick your business page!

Now, when fans visit your Facebook page this will appear under your Events tab. Some creatives make an entirely separate event for their specific brand too and add it to their page the same way. For Example, I’d create an event called something like “Craftinista Girl at Half Mile Handmade Holiday Show.” I don’t recommend this approach because you rely on your own fan base to generate hype about the event. By using the already existing event you will benefit from all of the promoting being done by the show organizers as well as other makers. Collaboration is a beautiful thing! *If you are a creative that has had success with this approach, I would love to hear about it – feel free to email me your thoughts/feedback!

On that note after you’re done adding the event to your page, invite some friends! You can do it as easily as sending the invite to your entire friends list or you can spend a bit more time specifically inviting those that you think would actually be interested or live in that area. I have friends all over the place, so I typically do take the time to only invite the people that I think the event would be relevant to. To me, this also makes it seem a bit less like “spam” since you’re only reaching out to those that might truly be interested in attending. Even if someone you invite only says that they’re “interested” this shows up in the feed that is seen by all of their friends, then one of their friends might see it and also mark that they are “interested” in attending, and so on. Sometimes I will look at the number of people that are “attending” and “interested” before I send invites to my people and then check back in a couple days to see how those numbers have changed. It’s surprising to see the impact that you’ve had just by inviting 20-25 of your friends.

You can also advertise the Facebook event via Instagram. Sometimes shows will send you a graphic that they created specifically for the event or you can create your own for free using Canva, or the AMB or Word Swag app (I think these are maybe $1 each). On the day(s) that you make your Instagram post about the show change the link in your bio to go directly to the Facebook event and mention that in your caption. I like to use Bitly to shorten the link to the event. However, some people have told me that when they see a link that looks like spam, they won’t click on it. You’ll just have to feel out what your fans prefer for that. Creating a Bitly link is an extra step, I just like it because of the clean look (and because I like to nerd out on the statistics it gives you); but I can’t say for sure what the impact either way is. I like to use Instagram to filter people to the Facebook event because Facebook with take care of all of the reminders for me. You can certainly continue to post about events on Instagram as often as you’d like leading up to the show, but if someone selects that they’re interested on Facebook, they will get a notification the week of the event automatically – less work for you!

Another small way to promote your shows on social media is simply tagging the shows accounts or using their specific hashtag(s). If you post a behind the scenes photo of you making an item for the show, tag them! If you complete a whole pile of something and post a picture of your accomplishment, tag them! If you’ve got the car all packed up and ready to go the morning of the show and put it on social media, tag them! These are subtle reminders to your fans and customers that the show is coming up and serves as a good reminder to come and check it out. Also, by tagging the show they might repost your photo and it just might get you some more followers in the process. Win, win, win!

As the date of the show comes closer you can also post on the “discussion” of the event on Facebook too. I try to remember to do this 1-2 days before. My approach is usually an introduction of sorts – I might say something like “Hi, I’m Capri with Craftinista Girl (tag your page, don’t just type it) and I can’t wait to show you all of my handmade baby goods at the show on Saturday, see you soon!” ALWAYS include a photo with your post! People often disregard posts that are just words, show them a photo that catches their attention and then they’ll read what you’re saying about the photo. Other ideas of what you could post:

  • A photo previewing some of the items you'll be bringing
  • Advertise any sales you might be running at that event - "Headbands $3 each or 2 for $5 this Saturday ONLY"
  • If you know other makers that will be at the show tag them in a post

Throughout all of the social media activity, I highly recommend interacting and reciprocating as much as possible. I understand that it’s not always easy to keep up with all of the notifications, but try the best you can to respond to comments and questions if you see them. If a show posts a photo of your products leave a comment saying “thanks for sharing!” You might also consider re-posting or making your own post directing your followers to check out the show page. Also, if you are featured, read the comments! Are people asking questions? Are they complimenting your creations? Take the time to go through and respond to those comments. Think of other ways to interact too! Maybe the show makes a post featuring one of your maker-friends. Comment on that with sincerity and excitement - “OMG I bought one of Capri’s baby bibs for my niece and she wears it ALL THE TIME!”

More than likely you have more than one holiday show during the season too. Another idea is to advertise your upcoming shows in your booth at each show. Sometimes I’ll hand-write or print a schedule of upcoming shows and put it in a cute frame that I have out on my table somewhere. I have had shoppers snap a photo of that list on their phone or even tell me they have plans to attend some of the upcoming shows already. It’s advertising and can sometimes be a conversation starter too! I’ve also seen some makers use postcard sized flyers to put in customers’ bags or to keep out on the table for people to take with the list of upcoming shows.

One last way that you can promote your holiday shows for free is to contact local business owners (like me) and straight up ask! Find the brick-and-mortar shops in your area that carry handmade items, support the handmade movement, or are proponents of small business in general and simply ask if they’d be interested in helping promote the show. You might also be able to reach out to places like your Chamber of Commerce or a local tourism office. Maybe you could even approach the place that you work at! Ask them to hang a flyer in their window, put some handouts at the checkout, include the show info in their newsletter, or even see if they will do a shout out on their social media account(s). Try to have as much of the “work” done as possible when you contact/approach businesses. Don’t make them search for the details, provide them with everything they need up front. Send them a graphic, or the direct link to the event rather than making them go out and get the information themselves. If you say you’re going to bring flyers by, follow through with that. The more prepared you are, the more likely they will be willing/interested in helping now and in the future.

Throughout the process of advertising your holiday shows please be mindful of anything that the show has specifically asked you to do or not to do. Show organizers have often spent time, money, and many sleepless nights to give their show a branded/cohesive look and feel. They have researched you, your business, and their anticipated customers, they know what they’re doing! Don’t get too carried away with interacting or participating on social media. Don’t go make your own graphic for the show if they have provided you with one. Read emails from them in their entirety. Be respectful and use all of the resources they have worked hard to provide you with!

Do you have more successful/free/inexpensive methods for promoting your shows? Do you have an upcoming show you’d like us to share with our customers, fans, and followers? Drop me a line anytime at hello@halfmilehandmade.com, I’d love to hear from you!

Now, get back to making – can’t wait to see what you’ll be bringing to your holiday shows this year!