Monday, December 6, 2010

Feature: 'Many hands' for Frock Paper Scissors.

Written for Frock Paper Scissors.

By Anna Angel
They say birds of a feather flock together; this is especially true of Brisbane’s community of independent crafters.
The success of local artistic collectives like BrisStyle has given rise to new avenues for artists and shoppers to connect. The first franchise of Melbourne’s In.cube8r gallery, where independent artists lease small spaces to sell their wares commission-free, officially launched in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley in August 2010.
In 2007, Isy Galey opened In.cube8r, which she labels “Coles-Myer on a smaller scale”, after struggling to find economically viable ways to market her glasswork to the public.
“I have always thought – and I’ve been making my whole life – that commission kills handmade,” she says.
Her success and passion has paved the way for the store, run by Vicki Sinclair, on Wickham Street to emerge as a staple among the Valley’s artistic tapestry, where shoppers have overwhelmingly embraced local crafters.
“Nothing compares to a product that’s made by hand, and because the item has been made without pressure, and not under duress in a sweatshop environment, that person is able to put love and thought behind it,” Galey says.

Original article and images here or read after the jump.

The Etsy revolution?

The communal nature of a shop like In.cube8r makes it easier for independent artists to break into the market, and online avenues like have created thousands of success stories.
Galey admires the concept of Esty, but admits that larger collectives have their downfalls.
“There’s something like 600,000 sellers now, and I know people who have gotten their feet off the ground, but I know three times as many who haven’t sold anything at all,” she says.
A smart group of Brisbane-based artists have found a way to stand out amongst the throng, reaching the local community with little more than Etsy profiles and a blog.
“A girl who came over from the Netherlands started it all off – she wanted to meet the local community of Etsiers, so put the call out,” says Helen Berthold of BrisStyle.
Since they first formed in March 2008, membership numbers have swelled to 120. Members have access to stalls at each market the group holds, promotion through the website, and advice on everything from marketing to business cards.
Berthold organises BrisStyle’s sporadic markets, from the Mother & Child markets held in Hamilton, to the popular Twilight Markets held in King George Square, where she sells her own upcycled vintage fare under the name Ruby 2 Go Go.
Chatting from a promotional stall at the recent Indie Designers Market, she pauses as each shopper approaches, to smile and ask, “Hi, how did you hear about BrisStyle?”
One conversation unearths a potential 121st member for the group, who clutches her collection of business cards and parcels with obvious delight.
Manning the next stall over is the president of BrisStyle, Rebecca Cason, who greets customers shyly while hand-stitching a red softie for her range, Edward and Lilly.
“BrisStyle as a group is more effective at promoting handmade than one seller going out alone, it’s the power of the masses, I guess,” Cason says.
“It’s good for people to be a part of a community where everyone understands where they’re coming from, as well.”

To market, to market

Cason embraces newer additions to Brisbane’s pop-up shopping calendar, which include the Valley Laneway Markets, Suitcase Rummage, West End’s Marky Markets, and Finders Keepers.
“Even in the last six months, there are so many more markets and outlets for handmade popping up, and I think everyone is now more aware of the impact of production from everything we buy,” she says.
Rather than turning away from the online avenues that launch so many artisans, these shopping events are often seen as a cost-effective way to supplement and promote virtual stores.
“You can always have a conversation with a buyer online, but they might then come to the markets to meet you face-to-face, and you have that contact with the seller,” Cason says.
Local designer Holly Leonardson’s accessories line, Pannikin, has been available on Etsy since 2008, but she says business has only taken off since she became a BrisStyle member in 2010.
“Doing the markets is a good way to get out there,” says Leonardson.
“You’ll get people who’ll say, ‘Oh, I saw you at the market’, and it’s really nice to know people enjoy themselves so much.”
It’s almost too perfect to call a collective that produces felt brooches and hand-sewn softies and satchels “tight-knit”, but Leonardson confirms BrisStyle is certainly that.
“It’s been a big help because everyone in the community is so supportive, and it’s great to see Etsy stores actually come to life,” she says.

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