Entrepreneurs and artisans come in all ages, as the Merry and Bright pop-up craft and gift market proved on Sunday.
Tucked away at the south end of the south parking lot at the Innisfil Recreation Complex, pop-up market vendors ranged from 92-year-old Veronica Tyler, whose crocheted, sewn and hand-knitted creations were sold by daughter Judy, to elementary school student Cienna, with her Cienna Yen hand-poured soy candles.
“I really just wanted an after-school hobby,” Cienna said, but her hobby has now turned into an actual business, with help from mom Candace Yenkanna.
The pop-up markets are operated by Shop With Purpose, the brainchild of Jessica Medeiros. They began back in 2018 in Orangeville; this was the first year the market has expanded to the Innisfil area.
Medeiros was at the Innisfil pop-up market, manning the Shop With Purpose Boutique with sister Jennifer. A staple at each pop-up, the boutique features the works of up to eight Ontario small businesses or artisans – “Everything from stained glass to bath and body stuff. They just have to be hand-made,” she explained.
A portion of sales from the boutique go to charity; the Alzheimer Society of Dufferin County is this month’s recipient. So far, Medeiros said, the pop-up markets have raised about $15,000 for a wide range of charitable causes since their inception – “and we’re actually looking for recommendations for 2022, for local charities,” she said.
A number of the participating businesses were launched during the pandemic, inspired by the challenges.
Anna Santiago of Bradford launched ‘Mark It Up by Anna’ last year. “I got engaged, and I started making things for myself and the wedding, to get ready,” she said – from clothing with snappy sayings, to cups and signs.
Santiago was almost immediately inundated with requests and offers to purchase from friends, and encouraged to participate in gift and craft shows.
“The more I go out, the more people know my brand,” she said, and with a high-stress job during the week, “This is my fun job on the weekends.”
For Vanessa, of Creative Cuts by Nessa, being creative is more than fun, more than a business; it’s a kind of therapy.
She began making her hand-made hair bows on clips or nylon bands for her daughter, but after going through what she called “such a dark place” early last year, she said, “I found the light in bows… Being creative was my way of coming out of it.”
Her creations are whimsical, charming, and more - her butterfly bows are a symbol of the soul, a reminder of a loved one who has passed.
“Butterflies remind me of my mom,” Vanessa said.
Nicole Santo was also inspired to open her business after the loss of a loved one – her grandmother, who passed away this year, after struggling with dementia.
Her business is ‘Keeping Memories Alive’ – transforming photos and mementos of loved ones, or of special events like births, into a keepsake display for the holidays.
Although it was the final Pop-Up Market of 2021, they will be back in 2022, promised Medeiros – and Shop With Purpose, a boutique with the motto, “Shop Small. Shop Smart. Shop with Purpose” is always open online. For information, click here.