Buying local just got easier
Just in time for holiday shopping, ScrantonMade.com launches this week
When it comes to handmade items, author Aimee Bender is quoted as saying, “That’s the thing with handmade items. They still have the person’s mark on them, and when you hold them, you feel less alone. This is why everyone who eats a Whopper leaves a little more depressed than they were when they came in. Nobody cooked that burger.”
Well, we can’t really attest to the satisfaction level of Whopper lovers out there, but we get the point. There’s nothing quite like giving, or receiving, an original handmade item because there’s a piece of the artist woven within each tapestry; glued into every seam; sealed with each stroke of the paintbrush.
If you love all things handmade, a new website will launch on Saturday, Nov. 10, that will put you in touch with Scranton area artists who specialize in just that — creating items by hand. ScrantonMade.com, a curated online shop, will allow you to support your friends and neighbors while shopping this holiday season and beyond.
We recently caught up with the site’s founders Cristin Powers and Chrissy Manuel, who offered a glimpse into the world of ScrantonMade.com.
Tell us how the site was born. Whose idea was it, and who was involved in getting it off the ground?
The site was born from ideas being tossed back and forth between us (Cristin Powers, owner of GreenBeing, and Chrissy Manuel of Shoplift! Vintage). After doing many crafts shows together and having separate online shops, we decided to work with other Scranton-based artists to create a marketplace that lasts more than one day (unlike a craft show/fair) with low overhead and a powerful network to support the success of local artists. We teamed up with Samantha Nardelli, our favorite graphic designer. Sam built our entire website and did all the logos and graphics.
Did you model it after initiatives you’ve seen work well in other cities?
We wanted to reach the local community and beyond. We loved the idea of curated craft shows such as Renegade and the Bust Magazine Craftacular, which both create a destination for lovers of handmade products, craft and design. We wanted to create something like that for Scranton artists, but felt that the only way to get the reach that comes with these events in larger cities was to do it online. We originally intended to build an online holiday marketplace that would feel as special as these events.
After developing the idea further, it became clear that there was no reason to limit the marketplace to the holiday season.
We are also inspired by sites like buyolympia.com, an online marketplace originally started to promote Olympia, Washington, artists online which has grown to become a nationally-recognized shopping destination for art from the Pacific Northwest.
We wanted to challenge the idea that local artists are in competition with one another and instead join forces and share resources. In the online world, sharing resources is the equivalent of being able to rent a large space located on a high traffic well-lit street and being open 24 hours. It’s so much more effective and efficient than 10 artists opening 10 different etsy shops. We all benefit from each other’s successes and that makes each of our own successes that much more satisfying.
Why is the time right for ScrantonMade.com?
The holidays are upon us so we timed the launch to coincide with this busiest shopping season. We want to show Scrantonians that there are locally hand-crafted goods available which are perfect for holiday gifts.
We all know that people are spending more of their dollars shopping online and that it’s becoming harder for brick-and-mortar shops to compete with the convenience and choices offered online. Instead of fighting against this, it seemed smartest to embrace it and aim to create a destination online. It just makes sense to have a destination spot for a variety of local artists and Scranton-based work since people are making so many of their buying choices in their homes. This also allows us to reach not only the local community but people who have an affinity for the area, have moved away or have some other affiliation with the area. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from former Scrantonians, so we know we are on the right track.
Tell us about some of the great finds we’ll see when we go shopping online.
Currently, there are eight artists/companies featured on ScrantonMade: GreenBeing (Cristin Powers), Samantha Nardelli Designs, enamelist Jenn Bell, Valerie Kiser Designs, The Fanciful Fox, Revival Letterpress (Matt Hiller), Subverse Aphrodesia (Alicia Grega) and Fisher Cat Fiber Company (Annie Cadden). After the new year, we will be adding more artists to the site.
We will also offer a variety of ScrantonMade logo products such as t-shirts, onesies, market bags and mugs.
You have a wonderful lineup of artists on the site. What are your criteria for choosing artists to participate?
We originally reached out to artists and designers whose work we love and that we were already familiar with. We looked for high quality, well-crafted unique products that were affordable and make great gifts.
We also looked for artists who were able and willing to commit to producing a limited run of each offering, and to share in the ScrantonMade vision. We choose artists who take their businesses seriously and who want to grow. It’s been a challenge and growth experience for all of us to shift our perspective from our singular creative ideas to working within the limitations of a group aesthetic and thinking in terms of product creation.
What’s the most important thing you want people to know about ScrantonMade.com?
Our city is under a lot of financial stress, and supporting independent businesses and artisans means keeping money in our community. Small business owners live and invest in the local community and by supporting them we are preserving the unique character of our city. While holiday shopping this year, take a look at ScrantonMade.com as well as other local businesses first.
What can we expect to see at the Buy Local Holiday Marketplace at the Cultural Center on Nov. 25?
The Buy Local Holiday Marketplace will be a fun shopping experience and holiday event. There will be live music from The Cole Quartet, wine tastings, a variety of local businesses, artists, crafters and designers from the area offering unique products and gifts, free gift wrapping, raffles and activities for kids.
This event will bring together many local businesses in beautiful space on a day when most stores are closed. It will be a super convenient way for people to get all of their gift shopping done in a festive environment. Check out our blog and facebook page for vendor spotlights which will continue to be updated right up until the day of the event.
— julie imel
To learn more, visit ScrantonMade.com and its blog, scrantonmade.blogspot.com, where you can find information about ScrantonMade artists, creative events in the community, craft tutorials, and crafty business advice.
Ready, set, shop!
A little more about the finds you’ll discover on ScrantonMade.com:
- GreenBeing: upcycled and eco friendly accessories
- Samantha Nardelli Designs: hand-bound books, ScrantonMade cityscapes
- Jenn Bell: copper and enamel artistic tiles and necklaces
- Valerie Kiser: handprinted designed tee-shirts
- The Fanciful Fox: eco-friendly and vegan soaps and toiletries
- Revival Letterpress: letterpress prints and cards
- Subverse Aphrodesia: vintage Scranton imagery and map necklaces, tie tacks and cufflinks, and other accessories
- Fisher Cat Fiber Company: upcycled rag rugs made from t-shirts and plastic bags