Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Featured Exhibitor: Love & Light Botanicals




 

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Kacie Schady, the founder of Love and Light Botanicals. I create high performance natural skincare from start to finish. I want to maintain a real connection with our customers, so every detail is important. I don’t outsource anything and I’m the only employee. 

 
How did you get started in your art / business?  Why did you start working in this field?
I’ve always struggled with my own skincare journey and have cystic acne. As I got older my skin was more and more sensitive and I couldn’t use off the shelf products. I resorted to diy skincare and wanted something better, so I decided to study organic skincare chemistry and began working on our first formulas in a lab we built in our home. 
 
Is this a full-time business for you?
Not yet! I launched Love and Light in Nov. 2023, and am working in the business well over a full-time schedule now but I also have another job until the business is more established. 

 

What sets your designs apart from others?
Our products are produced in small batch, with organic and natural plant-derived ingredients using skin-science to formulate products that really work to target aging skin challenges. It’s very hard to find truly natural and high performance products focused on mature skin problems because mass-produced products require harsh synthetic preservative systems to sustain a shelf life of 3 or more years.  

 
What has been your favorite moment since creating your art/business?
When one of my customers connected after trying our products and said she’d bathe in the eye cream if she could. Sharing something that you’ve invested so much energy and love into creating can be intimidating, but through this journey I’ve met some amazing humans who have lifted me up and been so supportive. 

 
What do your customers love most about your product(s)?
Our most loyal customers resonate with our inclusive and positive mission to banish the term “anti-aging” and focus on true skin health, but it’s also about quality and effectiveness of the products. Our Habitual Hydrator daily moisturizer smells amazing and it’s already our most popular product! 
 

 
What is the latest thing you have been working on?
We’re constantly doing research on new formulas. Right now, I’m developing several new products, including a vegan retinol alternative and a balancing facial cleanser. 
 
 
Will you be featuring any special holiday items?
Yes! We’ll be offering a limited supply of our luxury skincare gift set as a mix and match offer of 4-5 products - and comes with a gorgeous customer vegan leather makeup bag.  

 
What will you be bringing to the Gift & Art Expo for attendees to purchase?
Our entire 3-step Positive Aging skincare line will be available for purchase at the event. 

 
Instagram & Facebook: @loveandlightbotanicals

Website: 
www.loveandlightbotanicals.com
 
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CATEGORY:  FEATURED EXHIBITORS

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Featured Exhibitor: Keener Creations




 
 
Who are you and what do you do?  
Dwight Keener. Dwight is a para educator working with special needs students in the Mounds View school system.
 
Have you always been passionate about art and design?
Throughout my life I have had many creative outlets that I expressed myself through. In middle school and high school, I enjoyed music in all forms from marching band to choir. In college I studied dance and became a performer about a decade. Later I became fascinated with acrylic paint pour videos that I saw on YouTube, until one day I decided to give it a try.
 
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?
In 2023 I married and took the last name “Keener”. My husband, Jim Keener, has been instrumental in the creation of our business. Thus, Keener Creations was born.
 
Is this a full-time business for you? 
I hope one day that this will be a full-time job for me, but for now it is only part-time until we become successful enough.
 
Why did you start working in this field?
I started experimenting making paintings and I had so many friends and family tell me how much they loved my art and that I should start selling it. I was afraid of starting my own company from scratch, but my husband is great with handling the business side of things while I focus on creating art. Between the two of us we make a great team!
 
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
Having the confidence that my partner can handle all the legal aspects of running a business gave me the faith to give this a shot.
 
What has been your favorite moment since creating your art/business?  
My favorite moment was when we made our first sale through our website. This encouraged me that this business could actually work!
 
 
What motivates you to create?
I love how the colors interact with each other and am constantly surprised by how amazing some of my pieces turn out. I want to constantly try new color combinations and techniques for application to see what I can create.
 
What are some inspirations for your work?
My family has been a huge support for everything that I have done, and it constantly encourages me to keep going.
 
How does the city you live in influence your work?
I live in the Twin Cities of Minnesota and here we have a large gay community. I have created many rainbow themed pieces of art to help celebrate gay pride.
 
What sets your designs apart from others?  
First, I use color shifting pigments that I hand mix in almost all my artwork. Secondly, I coat all my art in epoxy resin, this really brings the colors to life!
 
What are some tips or suggestions you would like to offer?
Some day you must get off your butt and try to do it! For years I watched videos of other people making the art I do today. It was not until my 12-year-old cousin posted a video of a piece of art he created using the methods I was interested in that I finally thought “If he can do it, so can I”!
 
 
 
What is the latest thing you have been working on?
Lately we have started doing art on vinyl records. We take old records that no one wants and paint over them. 
 
What do your customers love most about your product(s)?
Most of our customers rave about the color choices we use when creating our art.
 
What is your favorite item that you sell?
I really love the vinyl records we have started painting on, especially after my husband found a great vinyl record frame that can be hung on walls to display the art.
 
How do you usually prepare for the holiday season?
We are a new business and have only had one holiday season so far. But for the upcoming 2024 holiday season I am building inventory in hopes that we will have a very successful year.
 
Will you be featuring any special holiday items?
 Yes! We will be making tree ornaments for Christmas this year.
 
What will you be bringing to the Gift & Art Expo for attendees to purchase?
We will have birch wood canvases in multiple sizes, as well as 12-inch vinyl records that we have painted over. In addition, we will have jewelry that we created using paint skins that we created.
 
 
Keener Creations:
www.keenercreations.com

Instagram: @keenercreations

    

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CATEGORY:  FEATURED EXHIBITORS

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Featured Exhibitor: Earth Wick & Fire




 
 
Who are you and what do you do? 
We are Ed Vidmar and Julie Beal, we hand- craft one of a kind stone Oil candles. Earth, Wick & Fire is a small, family-based business located in Minnesota. Our hand-crafted stone oil candles are made from natural slate that varies in beautiful mineral colors and textures.
 
 
What sets your designs apart from others?  
 Earth, Wick & Fire has created a maintenance-free, low-profile candle that you will enjoy for years, just add oil. Our fiberglass wicks do not burn away and each copper wick holder is hand-crafted. The reservoir holds 1 oz. of lamp oil and will burn for approximately 5 hours before putting itself out. The addition of essential oils to the reservoir will add a wonderful aroma to your space. Citronella oil may be used outdoors.
 
 
What are some inspirations for your work?  
During the creation of each candle the characteristics and design are controlled by the composition of the slate and the artist. With the use of a small rock hammer and the controlled pressure of the strike to the slate, the design simply starts with that first strike to see how it will fracture. The break inspires us to continue to move around the piece, in a fashion of interest and inspiration, allowing the slate to come alive. There are never two candles exactly alike.
 
 
What has been your favorite moment since creating your art/business?
Our favorite moments are when a customer comes back, expresses gratitude and love for their candle, and purchases more to share as gifts. It brings us so much joy creating our candles and we hope that you will enjoy your hand-crafted candle for years to come and share them with your family and friends as a unique gift that will hold memories.    
 
 
What is the latest thing you have been working on?
Our latest candle design is a 3-wick candle with a center accent piece in the shape of a heart. All our newest designs and creations will be available at the Gift & Art Expo
 

 www.earthwickandfirecandles.com 

 

 

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CATEGORY:  FEATURED EXHIBITORS

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Featured Exhibitor: Ellekin




 

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Keyona Elkins, and I started my Minneapolis-based online boutique, Ellekin, after struggling to find cute, fashion-forward clothes that met my personal sustainability criteria. At Ellekin, I curate affordable, sustainable women’s clothing in sizes XS-3X. The pieces are colorful, fun, bold, and all priced under $100. Everything is made with ethical labor practices and low-impact fabrics, giving you fun fashion that doesn’t come at the expense of people or planet.

 

What has been your favorite moment since creating your art/business?

Being selected to participate in Fashion Week Minnesota last spring was a highlight! I showed six looks from Ellekin on the runway, did a short interview about our sustainable practices, and hosted a pop-up shop that allowed attendees to shop the looks straight off the runway. It was amazing to meet so many like-minded sustainable fashion lovers!

 

 

What is the latest thing you have been working on?

I launched semi-custom embroidery this year! Using organic cotton T-shirts, I embroider various fun designs that customers can customize with their preferred colors, names, favorite slogans, etc. These pieces are also more sustainable because they’re made to order, which reduces unsold inventory and waste!

 

What will you be bringing to the Gift & Art Expo for attendees to purchase?

Ellekin has so many cute sustainable winter styles, perfect for gifting or just treating yourself! I’ll have all the best recycled polyester sweaters, organic cotton tees, recycled cotton sweat sets, and organic bamboo basics there to shop!

 

What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your art/business?

I got my Bachelor’s degree from North Dakota State University in Apparel, Retail Merchandising and Design in 2017, and interned at a trend forecasting agency in college. I then worked for Target as a Technical Designer on womenswear brands for six years. During my time there, I interned for a local fashion magazine and earned a Certificate in Sustainable Product Design and Supply Chain from Utah State University and the Outdoor Industry Association. Running Ellekin now lets me have a hand in every part of the business, from creative directing photo shoots to selecting specific fabrics, which I love!

 

 

What sets you apart from others?

There are lots of cute, cheap clothes out there, but very few of them are sustainably and ethically made like Ellekin’s! The material a garment is made from accounts for most of its environmental impact, so I only offer fabrics that are low impact when it comes to factors like global warming potential, fossil fuel depletion, chemistry impact, and water usage. My brands and factories must also ensure safe working conditions and pay workers a fair or living wage. I also give preference to brands whose factories are third-party certified (WRAP, Fair Trade, Fair Wear) to be ethical.

 

What do your customers love most about your product(s)?

Ellekin customers love that they have a one-stop-shop for sustainable, ethical clothes that are also cute and trendy! They don’t have to do a ton of research, since all our items meet their sustainability criteria, and they don’t have to spend a fortune on a new outfit, since all our pieces are under $100.

 

 

www.shopellekin.com
Social Media: @ShopEllekin on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Pinterest, and YouTube



 

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Monday, October 30, 2023

Featured Exhibitor: Ponderosa Sky Designs




 

 

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Carlyn and I am a Project Admin for a manufacturing company. My day job is very computer based, I spend most of my time looking at spreadsheets and our ERP system, so it doesn’t allow for very much creativity.


How did you get started in your business?
I started Ponderosa Sky Designs in the summer of 2021 because I was feeling uninspired in my day job and in need of a creative outlet. I had been watching Instagram videos for months of other women making stunning and vibrant jewelry out of what looked like playdough, but turned out to be polymer clay. In mid-June I finally bought a sample kit of clay and started playing around with it, I was instantly hooked. I had found my outlet!

 


Have you always been passionate about art and design?
I have always enjoyed dabbling in crafty things, but I haven’t ever thought of myself as someone who is naturally inclined to towards the fine arts. I think that is what I love so much about polymer clay, it feels more like an adult playdough than a form of sculpture. It has allowed me to express my artsy side without even realizing that’s what I was doing.


What motivates you to create?
Now, 2+ years later, I have made this creative hobby into an actual business! I have been lucky enough to create special collections for friends’ weddings, participated in 15+ art fairs and had a booth at the last two Twin Cities Pride festivals. My motivation now is to increase my skill with polymer clay, but I have also been recently branching out into other mediums, like stained glass. My hope is that one day I’ll be able to leave my day job and do art full time!

 


Will you be featuring any special holiday items?
I am working on a holiday collection that will include items such as 3D snowflake earrings, stained glass ornaments and snowman necklaces.

 

Ponderosa Sky Designs

ponderosaskydesigns.etsy.com
www.instagram.com/ponderosa.sky.designs
www.facebook.com/Ponderosa.Sky.Designs

 

 

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Friday, October 27, 2023

Featured Exhibitor: HammerToe Longboards




 

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a full-time cabinetmaker by day, woodworker by moonlight. (My clothes are always dusty.) Taking photography in high school developed my attention to detail. Woodshop allowed me to become comfortable with tools and my creativity took off.

 

Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?
I was a 20-ounce preemie with few complications, other than hammertoes as I grew older. I had surgery on both feet in January 2020, right before the pandemic, and had lots of time to think about my longboard business. HammerToe fell into place.

 

 

What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
I grew up working at our family business, Juanita’s Fajitas, at the Minnesota State Fair. I learned how to function within large groups of people in a hectic environment, quality control and efficiency.

 

How does the city you live in influence your work?
With our beautiful trails and lakes in the Twin Cities, it’s great to cruise around on a handmade board on wood grown locally, when possible.

 


www.hammertoellc.com

www.instagram.com/hammertoe_longboards

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CATEGORY:  FEATURED EXHIBITORS

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Featured Exhibitor: ReCoopMN




 

 

Who are you and what do you do?
I grew up in rural(ish) Minnesota and now reside in the suburbs with my husband, Sergio and my dog, Kona. I served nine years in the Minnesota National Guard. I made the decision a few years ago to discontinue my military service after my second deployment to the Middle East in 2019. I wanted to find a hobby that I could dedicate my spare time to, so I began researching potential hobbies and I came across candle making! While still deployed, I ordered a beginners candles making kit to see if it was something I would enjoy. I wasn't even home for two weeks yet and I started making candles. I fell in love and knew this was something I had to do!

 

 

Is this a full-time business for you?
Nope! Just a bonus, fun “side hustle” that allows me to escape into a mad scientologist. I am actually a paralegal by day.

 

 

Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?
Great question! "Re" is used for reuse and repurpose. There are so so many items that are thrown away these days. I enjoy finding new life to old items. "Coop" is inspired by the initial vision of this small business to be operated out of a retired chicken coop off my great-grandparent's old farm. And "MN" is obviously in the name because that is were this business was inspired! And I have lived my whole life in Minnesota!

 

How did you get started in your business?
It was an idea for about 5 years before the launch in 2020, though candle making was not the original idea. I made some repurposed bedroom furniture with my aunt for my new home at the time. It was something we both enjoyed doing and wanted to do more of. But as you know, life gets busy. This was the initial thought behind ReCoop. But then I thought, why not have the best of both worlds and make a candle hobby turned veteran owned small business!? Repurposed furniture, still could be a path ReCoopMN takes, but decided to focus on candles and wax melts (for now - baby steps!). ReCoopMN officially launched on my 30th Birthday!

 

What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
I am proud to say that most materials I use are made in the USA! Each candle and wax melt are made and hand poured in my home. All of the candles are eco-friendly, made from 100% American soy wax, cotton wicks, and hand poured into mason jars. Each scent is tested by me to ensure you are getting a high quality candle and the most out of your purchase, in hand selected scents that invoke memories, best moments, and tell a story with every candle!

 

 

www.recoopmn.com

www.instagram.com/recoopmn

www.facebook.com/recoopmn

 

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CATEGORY:  FEATURED EXHIBITORS

Monday, October 23, 2023

Featured Exhibitor: atelier mamako




 

 

Who are you and what do you do?
atelier mamako is a creative studio co-founded by Jacques Elate Joss and Carmen Elate, lifelong partners, educators and artists based in Minneapolis, MN. Jacques is a Cameroon-born DJ, poet and visual artist. Carmen is a book artist and textile designer. atelier mamako started in our home, where we enjoy making art side by side. We make handmade journals, patches, and patchwork home goods with eclectic and colorful pieces of fabric.

 

 

Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?
When we were looking for a name, our inspiration was music and language. mamako comes from a play on the word Makossa, which is the name of the Douala people (Cameroon) dance and music. Soul Makossa is a song by the late Cameroonian jazz musician, Manu Dibango. (mama sa! mamako! mako makossa!) We wanted to show our creativity in cutting fabric just like Manu Dibango cut the word makossa. We also speak French and atelier is the French word for studio.

 


How did you get started in your business?
We recently decided to turn our artistic practice into a business. We've been partners in life and in the arts for 30-plus years and have always used our home as a studio. As educators, we taught in and through the arts in classrooms, museums, and community programs. We started atelier mamako with the idea that we were going to make art that could support our vision of a world where artists collaborate across borders and make a living out of their craft.

 


What motivates you to create?
We are excited to expand our practice and conversation around textiles, patterns, and designs. We create fabric collages of colorful patchwork. Our patchwork reveals a space of bold and unpredictable design. We want our art to be functional and beautiful-journals, patches, and home goods. The exploration of the materials, as well as designing our fabrics motivates us.

 

 


What do your customers love most about your product(s)?
Our customers enjoy the one-of-a-kind products that we make and the uniqueness of each piece. They value the creativity and vibrancy of our patches and journals. Our customers love the juxtaposition and the mix of elements and the cultural conversations that our work projects. They like the sustainability of our upcycled projects and enjoy integrating our work into their own creativity.

 

www.ateliermamako.com

www.instagram.com/ateliermamako

www.facebook.com

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Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Featured Exhibitor: SoFull Chai




 

 

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Jennifer Kanikula. I am many things I suppose. A mother, wife, and a chaiwala of course! But also a dietician by day (at least for now)!. I love to travel, which is how this whole little business venture was started in the first place, and I also love to create, so the two went hand in hand when the business began.


Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?
When my husband Trevor and I left on our travels I began a food and travel blog (thesofulltraveler.com). I am a dietician by trade and I liked the play on words between So Full, and Soulful. Frankly, no place we ever traveled had more soul than India. So when we began making chai, the name seemed perfectly appropriate!


How did you get started in your business?
My husband Trevor and I traveled to India and Nepal for a month each back in 2020. We were 4 days into a 14 day hike in the Annapurna mountain range when we were forced to turn back because of COVID and fly home early. However, during our stay in each country we drank chai constantly. Multiple times a day, every day, just like the locals. I was fortunate enough to take a cooking class while in India and learned how to make authentic Indian masala chai. I never had any intention of turning it into a business, I simply began making it at home when we returned and friends and family encouraged me to try selling it at farmers markets. Two years later, here we are.


What do your customers love most about your product(s)?
I think customers love its authenticity. I think they appreciate that it tastes like true chai, and that means it packs a little bit of spice. I think they also begin to really appreciate the 3-4 minute ritual of making it each morning. It is an opportunity to slow down and create a relaxing morning routine, and we have been so glad to hear how many people have begun to cherish that morning routine. What is nice about our product, is that it is intended to be made at home. Coffee for example, tends to be best at the coffee shops, and your coffee at home is simply a quick easy substitute of lesser quality, but our chai is best made at home by you. Coffee shop chai is lagging, unlike their coffee, they put no time or love into the process, and it is evident in the quality of the chai. So it is fun to be able to provide a premium product for people to enjoy and make themselves at home.


What is the latest thing you have been working on?
Lately we have been working on getting into coffee shops. Most coffee shops are using macro products from big businesses with watered down and Americanized versions of chai. We hope to change that. However the beauty of our product is its authenticity, so we are trying to find ways to make our product more accessible to coffee shops without losing the traditional spicy flavor we know and love.

 

www.sofullchai.com

www.instagram.com/sofullchai

www.facebook.com

 

 

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CATEGORY:  FEATURED EXHIBITORS

Monday, October 16, 2023

Featured Exhibitor: Coneflower Creative





Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Rachel Johnson and I live in Minneapolis. I spend my time doing a hodgepodge of things that include making prints and cards, teaching art, raising my kids, cooking, reading, and connecting with friends.

 


Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?

The name Coneflower Creative was inspired by the actual coneflowers that line Mpls streets in the summer. They are native to MN, just like me, so I thought the name was fitting! I also just really like the flower as do many other women in my family, so they have many levels of meaning for me.

 


Have you always been passionate about art and design?

I've been drawn to art and creating ever since I was young. In high school, I took a commercial design class that sparked my initial interest in graphic design which eventually led me to a bachelor's degree in graphic design. Those skills have allowed me to pursue art I enjoy making by digital collage.

 


What motivates you to create?

I think creating is a good outlet for me! In the past few years, I've come to really just enjoy playing with different mixed media elements in photoshop to see what emerges through the layers! The playfulness of the process can be quite therapeutic when I get into that zen, creative space.

 

 

What do you think sets your designs apart from others?

I think my process sets me apart from others. Digital collage is such a unique mixed-medium option that allows for so many beautiful, visual designs. People are often drawn to the pressed plants and nature imagery I use in my work.

 


Coneflower Creative

www.etsy.com/shop/coneflowercreative

www.instagram.com/coneflowercreative

www.facebook.com/coneflowercreative

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