Makers and Wares Market hosted 59 women-led booths at Paseo Nuevo in celebration of International Women’s Day (which is today). The event, presented by Blissful Boutiques and Women’s Economic Ventures, was free for the entrepreneurs.
Lisa Green, president and CEO of the Makers and Wares Market, wanted to make the day free as a gift to vendors and shoppers.
“Everybody’s been suffering this whole year with COVID. And I figured, International Women’s Day — let’s do something to just get the community together and bring them out,” she told the News-Press.
She saw the holiday as a good way to honor women who might be struggling during the pandemic.
“I think the women, in my opinion, were hit the hardest. Because they have to be mom; they have to be teachers; they have to get home with the kids, etc. So that was part of the other reason why it’s doing this and offering it free to the vendors,” she said.
Ms. Green, an entrepreneur herself, has presided over the market for nearly five years and just recently opened the market to include non-handmade items.
“A small business that wants to get up off their feet and they can’t afford to rent a brick-and-mortar storefront — we want to be able to give them a chance. We want to be able to take care of everybody,” she said.
The market, which is located beside State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, allows vendors from surrounding cities to participate. (Some local markets only allow Santa Barbara residents to join.)
Denise Zenteno of Rain Frog Woodworking heard about the market from friends in Santa Ynez Valley Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS). Some of the moms had small businesses and were planning to represent Santa Ynez Sunday.
Sunday was Ms. Zenteno’s fourth time selling at a market, and first time in Santa Barbara.
She began woodworking six months ago when she saw a lathe among the tools her husband keeps in the garage.
She describes discovering woodworking as falling in love. Her father was an architect and used woodwork in his designs, so the trade resonated with her.
Her display of pens, cooking utensils and bowls look as though she’s been making them for years.
“As an engineer, I’ve always worked with my hands, so it wasn’t a hard transition,” she explained.
She was an engineer for seven years before immigrating to the U.S. and starting a family with her husband.
She has many hobbies and likes to try new projects (which is why she browsed the tools in the garage), but she had never sold her work.
Ms. Zenteno started woodworking to make Christmas gifts, and her friends and family insisted she sell some of her creations. She had a large inventory already and decided to give it a try while she stays home with her child.
Paula Fell, an artist in Ojai, started selling mosaics and fused glass pieces after she retired three years ago. She always desired to become an artist upon retirement.
She has sold her mosaics in art exhibitions and decided to try the market when her neighbor Jen Grasmere told her about it.
“I think [Ms. Green] is really trying to help women artists and women with the cottage industries,” Ms. Fell said. “I think that’s really important during COVID that they have a platform to be able to share their work.”
Ms. Grasmere, a silver and turquoise jewelry artist, was grateful the market was a free opportunity.
“I think women need to help each other and encourage each other. We need each other in this world,” she said.
Her jewelry became her profession five years ago, which was an intimidating transition. She previously gave everything away.
“As an artist, you have got to get over your shame,” she said. “Because you put your stuff out there and you have a shame attack like, ‘Oh, no one’s gonna like that.’ But then you make a sale and then you get used to putting your stuff out there.”
She still worries about hitting the perfect price to get more sales and pay for her handiwork. But she says her husband is a good support.
To shop Ms. Zenteno’s woodwork, send her an email: email@example.com
Ms. Fell often makes commissioned pieces as well as sells her premade art at paulajennetart.com.
Ms. Grasmere likes to update her Instagram with her latest pieces at instagram.com/jengrasmerejewelry.
To support Ms. Green, check out her markets and events at lmgvendorevents.com.