Last Saturday we were honored to be a part of an unforgettable day at The Gowanus Grove. We sold our handcrafted creations, along with 30 other female entrepreneurs, at The Gowanus Girls Indie Design + Food Mart. As we drove through the old warehouses and rundown factory building in Gowanus Brooklyn, we passed over the canal and around quiet corners. For a second we questioned the new navigation system on my iPhone because we couldn’t see a tree in sight, let alone a grove of them. Then at the end of the narrow walkway next to a small metal sign that read 400 Carroll Street, waved a few friendly ladies. As we walked in it felt almost magical. The sun was shining, peeking through the tree branches. There was graffiti in the distance and a watertower standing tall overhead. We were inside this enchanted forest. It was very “secret garden”. Lights and lanterns hung from the trees. The air was crisp and it smelled like fall. Immediately we knew we were about have a wonderful day.
After doing our research we knew the women behind Curious Jane, the all-girls afterschool program hosting the event, were “our people.” What we didn’t anticipate was that everyone they invited would be “our people” as well. It was like when you meet your college best friend’s high school best friend and the two of you immediately click.
As we set up our booth, we overheard the chatter of girlfriends catching up with each other and reuniting with hugs and smiles. Then the customers arrived and the meet and greet that became our day began.
Two of the first people who came through were a couple in their late 50’s. I couldn’t tell if the husband was interested or not, but then he started really reading every single card. Eventually, he called his wife over and said “Honey, I am going to buy 5 cards.” I beamed from ear to ear. It always excites me when men take an interest in ours cards. He put serious thought into each card he chose and his wife approved of his selection.
Then in flooded what must have been a busload of art students. With sketchpads in their hands, they took in the atmosphere. One student borrowed money from a friend to buy a birthday card for his sister. It was very heart warming.
There were many girls there from the Curious Jane Program. Some made T-shirt necklaces, which looked like something you would buy at Urban Outfitters. Others made organic mobiles made of fallen tree branches, wire, and jewels. Their moms shopped and caught up on life. There was this one group of three moms living the life I hope to live. Their daughters, respectful – yet still playful, circled them, checking out our cards in between a game of tag. Both the moms and their children were stylishly dressed without putting in too much effort. They were clearly well rounded, kind, fun, and loving....spending a day with each other and enjoying all the perks their hometown offers.
There was a woman who came through twice. The first time with her granddaughter, reading our cards aloud and chuckling together. I was somewhat surprised when they left without buying a single card. Then she came back, this time alone. She said, “I’m gonna get 5, ready here I go.” After each selection, she handed me the card and I put it in her bag. It was like a watching someone go on a treasure hunt. She got her 5 and then her daughter and granddaughter joined her. Her daughter, just as her she had done, read almost all the cards aloud. The granddaughter politely stood by her mom’s side, even though she had just done this only 10 minutes earlier. The daughter bought my entire stock of “You might not think it was a big deal, but it meant the world to me.” As the mother and daughter had a friendly fight over who would pay for the cards, all I could think about was how lucky the granddaughter was. We all become our mothers and this young lady had two incredibly kind women to look up to.
Next, a young girl around 8 years old appeared and took a specific interest in the process of making our cards. I explained to her how we take the photos, type on the typewriter, cut out the saying, and glue it to the image. She wanted to be sure she completely understood and repeated the process back to me until she got it precisely correct. Later her dad tracked her down and wanted to know what she had been up to. When she asks him for a typewriter for Christmas, we will know why.
There are some cards we created because deep down I had to make them. I wasn’t concerned if they would sell, I just had to get the message out into the world the best way I knew how. One of them is our “Why Do Some People Think It’s a Good Idea To Tell Me I Look Tired” card. There was a lot of commiserating over this card at The Gowanus Girls Mart and it made me really happy that I made this card – no makeup, bed head and all. And seriously why do people think it’s a good idea to tell us we look tired? Please, stop. It just makes us feel like crap.
Another card that means so much to my heart is the birthday card featuring my brother and the dinosaur cake my grandma made for him on his 3rd birthday. Now while this card isn’t our best seller, it has a message that my childhood was based on, “homemade happiness.” When a male customer picked up this card, I had to tell him how much I loved it. He then told me the card was for his son. He said his wife would spend hours in the kitchen baking the most interesting and unusual cakes every year as requested by their little man. Knowing a card I made can connect with someone so specifically just warms my heart.
As the people came and went, we began to sell out of specific cards. Luckily we had brought extra supplies so we quickly filled the empty shelves. There were many different shopping styles and it was fun to sit back and watch the process. One woman came through and might have set a record. I swear she read every card, but within 3 minutes she had chosen the 5 she wanted.
Towards the end of the afternoon, I had a quick chance to go around to the other booths. After reading about these amazing women who were also selling their goods, I couldn’t leave without saying a quick hello. The three we had a brief chance to talk with are below. Check them out. Everyone there had a unique talent they were sharing with the community. We hope to get to talk with more of the ladies next week.
|If you read our blog, you know we love making homemade preserves, so when we saw the sign for “The Jam Stand” we rushed right over. Sabrina & Jessica make delicious homemade jam and believe “there’s so much more than grape jelly.” After sampling each of their unique flavors, we chose to buy their “Sweet WINO-nion Jam” as a thank you for my best friend Katrina who watched Georgia for us in the morning. Honestly, it’s almost like they were also friends with Katrina and made this batch for her specifically. We hope she loves it. (Spoiler Alert: Trina if you are reading this…surprise…we bought you jam!)|
|Briana Myers is the compassionate woman behind Metta T. Long story short, she realized putting positive messages on the back of her yoga T-shirts not only gave the person meditating behind her something to focus on, it also made her more accountable and a kinder person. Check out their website for the full inspiring story that includes one of our favorite art supplies – puff paint!! Briana & Liz have an amazing energy (must be from all the yoga they do) and I literally teared up when buying a tank top. Plus, they donate a percentage of their sales to organizations that support the teachings of Buddha.|
This non-profit organization had me at “Film Biz Recycling!” Essentially a cooler version of The Goodwill, they sell almost everything and it’s all from donations given by local film and television productions. Although they can’t tell you what movie your new salt & pepper shakers are from, it does make it more exciting to watch NY based movies in hopes you see the artwork that now hangs over your couch in the entry way of Carrie Bradshaw’s old apartment. Film Biz Recycling also throws birthday parties that feature scavenger hunts, arts & crafts, and costumes. I know they are geared towards children, but I do know one almost 31 year old who would love it. (just sayin’)
Don’t worry if you missed the market the first time. The Gowanus Girls Indie Design + Food Mart will be in full swing again this coming Saturday. Also, just as we did during the first market, we will be having a contest to win a 5 pack of our "Cards You Need When You Need Them" to anyone who signs up for the mailing list. To watch the selection of the winner from the first market, click here. Hope to see you on Saturday. Be sure to say hi and introduce yourself. We love meeting our customers and hearing your stories!
Gowanus Girls Indie Design + Food Mart
Saturday October 27
12 noon – sundown
Gowanus Grove - 400 Carroll Street, between Bond and Nevins.
Also, if you've made the trip to Gowanus, you will also be close to Roots Cafe (a 6 minute drive or 20 minute walk) - which is one of our favorite coffee spots. It is the perfect spot to grab a cup and some lunch!
Fabulous blog, Jac. And no, you don’t look tired! You look like a busy, young Brooklyn MOM!!! A great look for you!! xo Leslie