POSTED ON OCTOBER 1, 2008:
The Needle Has Landed
Second annual Indie Emporium puts the spotlight on local crafters
Time to Shine. "I wanted to incorporate a fashion show into the event to showcase designers who are making their own line of clothing or reclaiming/repurposing clothing," said Crowe.
As kids, my sister and I were taken to every festival that came to Tulsa. If an open area was temporarily filled with vendors selling food on sticks, musicians playing under a tent or booths filled with art/crafts/culture, our father dragged us along.
Now, as a young adult with tastes varying from her father's, I don't make it to everything I visited as a kid, but if an event throws together cool people, live music and the possibility of buying something unique, I'm there.
Shopping at festivals is the best kind; it automatically justifies the purchases because if you don't buy whatever it is now, you won't get another chance until next year.
An event that caters to all those facets is returning to Tulsa. If you think I am referring to the Tulsa State Fair, then you have not heard about this weekend's (Oct. 10-11) Indie Emporium.
Unlike the caravan of carnies that is the Tulsa State Fair, the Indie Emporium features vendors from right here in Oklahoma. A project of Christine Crowe (creator of weather&noise) and Tara Mason (My Little Gnomies creator) and the other participants of the Tulsa Craft Mafia, the Indie Emporium is in its second year. The event promises independent crafts, art, fashion and music.
The idea for Indie Emporium sprang from the Indie craft scene expanding throughout the nation. Crowe saw an opportunity for the event "given Tulsa's diverse talent and many artists." Additionally, she wanted to create an event that was authentic to the movement. "I've set up my own craft business at a number of craft shows, but found myself surrounded by all of the multi-level marketing vendors. 'Craft show' no longer necessarily means that you'll find anything handmade. I wanted to start a real craft show, with real handmade items."
Beginning the task was no simple feat. With help from the other women of the Tulsa Craft Mafia, Crowe and Mason began contacting local entrepreneurs from etsy.com to see if such an event in Tulsa would be compelling. Once that ball began rolling, the venue was at task, and the VFW Post 577, 1109 E. 6th St., has all the necessities for this year's event.
The majority of vendors reside in Tulsa, including many repeats from last year. But by word of mouth, the vendors list now includes artists from other cities in the region.
Don't let the event's name fool you. The term indie is not referring to the music and films that overly hipster kids listen and watch. In that regard, there is only a slight indie edge to the event.
"Indie Emporium is predominantly a younger generation of crafters who have a hip edge on their craft. There is a handmade revolution sweeping the nation because young people are tired of the everyday, mass-produced consumerism and I wanted to see Tulsa right in the middle of the revolution," Crowe said.
But that's not to say the audience is that concise. The creations are varied enough to interest people of all ages and levels of hipster cred.
On the Table
The various vendors have an assortment of goodies. The only essential to the event is that the items are hand-made. The vendors are as varied as creativity and resourcefulness can stretch -- and that's pretty far. Here's a quick glimpse at some of the goods on the table.
NuSpun Apparel features men's and women's organic cotton and bamboo t-shirts. Mike and Mary Jewelry sells bold silver rings, earrings and necklace pendants. Garden Deva has whimsical sculptures constructed from recycled steel. Project 8256 features artwork.
The organizers of the event, as well as several other members of the Tulsa Craft Mafia, will also have their works on display. Participating brands include Modern Dharma, My Little Gnomies, ellaminnowpea, Stelabird, weather&noise and The Knit Owl. These companies offer everything from stuffed home décor plushies, totes, and shirts to bottle openers, rings, and key chain fobs.
Indie Emporium offers crafts other than cool stuff for cool ladies. The Born 2 Bee Wild booth has clothing for children. GreenerMe and The Hyper Bunny feature stationary. The latter sells cheeky cards reading "Merry Christmas Bitch."
Felix and Jayne's booth offers fabric totes, bags and buttons in clever colors, fabrics and combinations. The Vintage Pearl continues the accessories trend with delicate, pretty jewelry. Dwelling Spaces, 119 S. Detroit, will showcase some of its coolest finds, too. Other vendors include: Main Street House Plants, Erika Hendrix, Jemellia Hilfiger's Jem Jam, Frances + Lulu, amelia mae and more.
Like any other good festival, Indie Emporium planned for additional events. Saturday's fashion show will feature clothing by weather&noise, Erika Hendrix, Tara Mason, Beulah B., NuSpun Apparel and Ra$pberry Grunt. Crowe, who is debuting shirts and dresses from her weather&noise line, was eager to include a fashion show. "I wanted to incorporate a fashion show into the event to showcase designers who are making their own line of clothing, or reclaiming/repurposing clothing. I've been making reclaimed clothes since I was in high school and until last year, didn't know of anywhere local to show them. I'm really excited to see the lovely creations by this year's designers," said Crowe.
One of those designers working with reclaimed/repurposed clothing and showcasing at the fashion show is Carla-Rose. As one half of Ra$pberry Grunt's design duo, she promises new looks to debut as part of her runway show. The line takes screen-printed vintage to a new level with themes of Victorian and Edwardian looks. This task is even more interesting (or difficult?) because the clothes come from the 1960s and 1970s. While not all clothing designers will be featured on the runway and in the booths, visitors get some kind of exposure to these creations and a chance to find out where to purchase them.
Beyond wearable art, Indie Emporium sells gallery art as well. This year's gallery features art from Tori Butner, Christine Crowe, G. Krysta Hamilton, Tara Mason, Hannah Phillips, Meredith Van Patten, Caitlin Coughlin, Megan Dunbar, Nat McNight, Natalie Moore, Jonathan Van Pattern and Heather Van Winkle. Come support your favorite local artist or to become a fan of those with an eye for artistic renderings.
This year's schedule includes equal parts purchasing, participation, and party. Friday's events, from 7-11pm, start off with everyone's favorite incentive -- free stuff. A free goodie bag will be given to the first 100 guests through the door. Saturday's lineup offers an assortment of events from the time the doors open at noon until they close at 10pm. More than just shopping, visitors can participate in their own creativity with the "Make and Take" crafting projects from 12-5pm. There will also be hourly crafting demos between 1 and 5pm, ideal for those feeling inspired to create as they shop. In between, live acoustic music will play. There will also be live music at the afterparty, which will be held at the VFW. Crowe said performers include Cecada, Fiawna Forte, Annie Dervish, Three Penny Upright, and Other Lives (formerly known as Kunek).
The event also has a touch of philanthropy. Two area organizations have ties with this year's Indie Emporium. Crowe decided to support the local Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma at this year's event because of the "rocky economy." So, Indie Emporium is having a canned food drive and a silent auction whose proceeds benefit the food bank. Visitors can bring canned food items to save money on their ticket at the door or just out of the kindness of their hearts. Additionally, the silent auction features pink-themed items in which proceeds benefit Tulsa's Breast Impressions. Breast Impressions had bust casts of the Tulsa Craft Mafia women at last year's event and the trend continues this year.
Tickets for Indie Emporium are on sale at Dwelling Spaces, Ida Red (3346 S. Peoria) and Topeca Coffee (115 W. 5th St., Suite 169). Tickets in advance are $5, at the door $8. Those who bring at least two canned goods can purchase tickets for $5. Tickets can also be purchased through the Indie Emporium shop on etsy.com.
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