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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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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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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Friday, October 13, 2023

Featured Exhibitor: The Chalk Bloc




 

 

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Crystal Alvarez, Owner and Chief Chalkatier for The Chalk Bloc, LLC. I have the amazing privilege to Spread Joy, Encourage Creativity and Give Back to Communities. My premium, handcrafted sidewalk chalk is all made in my home lab and is remarkably different from any other sidewalk chalk.  The vivid colors, smooth texture and fun shapes are unique and full of fun for people of all ages.

 

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

When choosing The Chalk Bloc name we wanted to communicate not only that we have pieces of chalk but that they are designed to be used and shared with others.  We thought about spelling it Chalk Block but that only suggests the shape or amount of chalk.  When using the spelling Bloc, it refers to a group of people or nations.  We want our chalk to bring people together so we landed on The Chalk Bloc. 

 

Is this a full-time business for you?

While I do devote full-time hours to The Chalk Bloc, I do also work full-time at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie as their Event and Volunteer Alignment Strategist. I love both worlds!

 

How did you get started in your business?  

During Covid, I wanted to do something for my neighbors we could all do together while still being 6 ft apart. I invited them to do an art Gallery on our driveways the weekend of May Day 2020.  As part of the invite, I wanted to give them a box of chalk. When I went to buy sidewalk chalk I really didn't like what was available. The colors were dull and the chalk was, well, chalky. I decided to try and make my own chalk. Let me tell you, my first boxes to the neighbors were a little sad looking compared to where we are today but that event started a hobby that turned into a business. It was the encouragement of friends in December of 2021 that made me look into starting my own business.  On January 19, 2022 I received the stamp of approval from the Minnesota Secretary of State's office and on May 12, 2022 my website launched. 

 

 

 

What is your favorite item that you sell?

The Go Rocket Go story set is my all time favorite item because it is my story.  The lesson in the Go Rocket Go story set is about having courage to do what you were made to do. The little rocket wasn't so sure he could blast off into the sky but the stars and planets cheered him on... Don't we all have something that we need a little courage and a great support system to help us do what we were made to do. Through this process of becoming a business, I have been the rocket who thought ... What if I fail, and I am so thankful for my friends who have cheered me on and helped me Blast Off

 

What is the latest thing you have been working on?

Jazzy Chalk (TM) is a crowd favorite! Jazzy is a method I use to pour chalk. Each piece has 10 or more colors in it and when coloring, you never know what colors will come out next. It is so cool!!! I am working on developing a line of fun gift sets that feature a piece of Jazzy Chalk.   I am also formulating a product that changes color as you draw ... It might take some time but I think it will be super cool when I get it all figured out.

 

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

I hear it over and over again, "your colors are so bright" - "That doesn't feel like chalk, it feels like plastic. Does it write like chalk?" Our customers also rave about our Jazzy Chalk (TM)

 

 

 

What do you think sets your designs apart from others?  

Our chalk is just so darn cute and full of vibrant colors. It is also less messy.  when you pick up a piece of our chalk, it doesn't get all over your hands.  It really is pretty amazing.

 

What has been your favorite moment since creating your business?  

There have been so many moments - like the smile from the lady who really wanted a story set but her husband wasn't as interested in the chalk as she was.  I caught up with them after they left my booth and gave her a Have We Bloomed Yet story set. I can still see her smile. One of the most fun was being part of a summer camp for 1st - 4th grade students.  I got to share the go rocket go story with 175 students and give them little mini rocket sets.  They were quite the little artists. That was an amazing day.  

 

How does the city you live in influence your work?  

I have had the privilege of being part of the Chanhassen Farmers Market.  It is so fun to watch the market grow and be part of a group of people who are makers for a living.  The farmers market was my first market experience and I go back as a vendor as much as my schedule allows.

 

What motivates you to create?  

There is really nothing like the excited feeling I get when I pop a piece of Jazzy Chalk.  Each piece is unique and colorful in its own way.  But deeper than the thrill of popping chalk, I love the opportunity to support others and give back.  This year I have take.n a special interest in educators.  So often they buy their own supplies. If I can gift them fun chalks for their classroom, I am all for it.  

 

 

 

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

In my 25 years at Wooddale Church, I held many positions that included leading our connections, communications, events and volunteers.  I also was part of the team that implemented our database.  Add to all of that the way God made me to be creative. I will be forever grateful for my experiences. 

 

How do you usually prepare for the holiday season?

Several months ago I developed a seasonal line and then made a pouring schedule to be ready for all the holiday shoppers.

 

Will you be featuring any special holiday items?

We have some sweet holiday products lined up for this season. This fall, The Chalk Bloc has a sweet Fall Colors gift set that is complete with a pumpkin, colored leaves and a Jazzy Maple leaf.  I also am pouring some unique fall color sets that feature colors such as cinnamon, brown, curry, peach, orange, red and ivory.  Our Apple A Day set is so beautiful... I know the saying says an apple a day keeps the doctor away but I think Doctors don't want to stay away from this one. Christmas is also going to be represented well with our Jazzy Christmas Tree set, Stick Snowman set and fun Tree Lights set. We are also giving a nod to some Christmas classics like a build your own train set, our version of the childhood favorite wooden blocks -- Chalk Blocs, Letters, Numbers and an assortment of amazingly colorful Chalk Sticks. Stockings need to be filled and we have the perfect little something for everyone.

 

www.thechalkbloc.com

www.facebook.com/thechalkbloc

www.instagram.com/thechalkbloc

 

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CATEGORY:  FEATURED EXHIBITORS

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Featured Exhibitor: MidCentury Records




 


Who are you and what do you do?   
MidCentury Records started as an online record store that started to explore uses for its damaged inventory. Today, we take in damaged records for other record stores and use the various parts for notebooks and coaster sets- with the list of uses expanding all the time.
 
 
 
How did you get started in your business?  
MidCentury Records was supposed to be a lowkey online record store to supplement our income and allow us to work for a few hours per week on something we enjoy. Quickly we ended up swimming in a sea of damaged and unplayable records with nowhere to put them. We started brainstorming upcycling uses for them to get them out of our house. Now we partner with other record stores in the Twin Cities to take their record trash so we can help keep that out of the landfill as well. We like to say that MidCentury Records is a recycling project masquerading cleverly as a record store.
 
 
 
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?  
The care and attention to detail. Despite the volume that we operate at, we still choose each notebook cover and coaster by hand.
 
 
 
 
Have you always been passionate about art and design?  
I have- specifically art and design that carries an environmental consciousness. In this case, we're making affordable art with a utility that is also positively impacting landfills in several states.
 
 
 
Is this a full-time business for you?  
This is not yet a full time business, but that is a long term goal.
 
 
 
What is your favorite item that you sell?  
The coaster sets are really fun to make, but I personally really love the notebooks and sketchbooks. Album artwork can be so beautiful, and the notebooks and sketchbooks give us a chance to show off all of the album artwork. It's also what people seem to be most familiar with, so it's fun to see people get excited about their favorite album covers on notebooks or sketchbooks.
 
 
 
 
 
What do your customers love most about your product(s)?  
Our customers love that we are upcycling and using real vinyl records. It's really rewarding for us to chat with customers about their favorite music, and to help them assemble coaster sets or notebook bundles with all of their favorite bands and artists.
 
 
 
Will you be featuring any special holiday items?  
We have been saving all of our Christmas/Holiday themed coasters for this event, so if you need a set of holiday coasters, make sure to stop by to check out the Holiday tray. They will also include a holiday exclusive Cherry stained base.
 
 

 


 

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