Crystal Pepperdine served on the Board of the Greater Flint Creative Alliance and had recently attended the first annual Detroit Urban Craft Fair by Handmade Detroit. She decided that Flint needed a modern, independent craft fair, too, and thus, Flint City Handmade was born.
The first annual Flint City Handmade Holiday Craft Market was held on December 1, 2007 at The Lunch Studio in Downtown Flint with just 20 vendors packed tight in the small space. About 150 shoppers attended and everyone loved the fresh, hip handmade goods.
Flint City Handmade added the Spring Craft Market in 2008 and expanded to include vendors at Brown Sugar Cafe and other businesses along Saginaw Street. We added more events to our programming, including an open craft social called craftLAB on the first Sunday of every month.
In May of 2009, Flint City Handmade became an independent organization and was renamed Flint Handmade. Flint Handmade launched a blog and began offering Craft Supply Swaps and participating in the Flint Festival of Quilts in addition to hosting the Spring and Holiday Craft Markets as “craft crawls” in multiple adjacent locations. We also opened our handmade small consignment shop inside The Lunch Studio.
In 2010, we introduced our signature “Knuckles” logo designed by Yasmin Ladha. We became one of the participating art organizations in the Cool City Art Auction and began hosting a monthly Second Saturday Giveaway on our blog that featured an interview and workspace photos with a local crafter. CraftLABs also evolved into craft workshops with all materials and instruction provided.
In the summer of 2011, Flint Handmade hosted Craft City at the Inaugural Buckham Alley Fest. We received a grant from the Ruth Mott Foundation in partnership with the Greater Flint Arts Council to offer domestic arts and crafts workshops called SkillShare in the fall. We brought a cross-country letterpress truck to the Flint Farmers’ Market and presented at the [IN]Spire Conference for creativity, innovation and social entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan-Flint. AND, most importantly, we finally became an offical 501c3 nonprofit organization! We launched a successful membership campaign and raised over $2,500 in less than 3 months!
2012 was a very active year. In additional to all of our existing programming (Craft Markets, Craft Supply Swaps, craftLABs, SkillShare, Cool City Art Auction, Buckham Alley Fest, Flint Festival of Quilts), we have launched a Craft CSA, won a Recycling Award from Keep Genesee County Beautiful for our Craft Supply Swaps, declared February 29th to be Creative Leap Day and begun hosting monthly volunteer work parties. This year, we will also be participating in the Crafting the Small Business Series at Maker Works in Ann Arbor, organizing the craft vendors for Ladies Night Out at Crossroads Village and much, much more!
In 2013, we made a deliberate decision to focus on and grow our core programs: craftLABs, Craft Supply Swaps and Craft Markets. Based on our concentrated effort, attendance at all of these events increased and we received very positive feedback from our participants.
In 2014, we increased the number of Craft Supply Swaps from two to four per year at the request of our members. We wanted to begin offering more programming on the out county areas as outreach for the majority of our events in Flint. So, we also partnered with the Genesee District Library to host the first annual Book Lovers’ Craft Fair at the Grand Blanc-McFarlen Branch, which was a huge success for both Flint Handmade and the GDL.
In 2015, we hosted out first annual Valentine’s Mini Market at the Flint Farmers’ Market. Based on the success of that event, we were recruited to organize the Summer Art & Craft Street Fair for the Flint Farmers’ Market. We introduced market shoppers to dozens of local artisans and provided free face painting and mini craft supply swaps all summer long. We also partnered with the Whaley Historic House to offer an Old-Fashioned Quilting Bee every other month and with El Ballet Folklórico to provide ArtWalk entertainment and vendors every month at The Lunch Studio.
In 2016, Flint Handmade became our Executive Director’s full time job and we added so many new programs. More of our story coming soon!
We also want to give a special thanks to those women who played an instrumental role in Flint Handmade during our early years: Jessica Nickola Planck, Michelle Stolz, Tracey Whelpley, Amy Kelsey, Emily Hudson and Koliye Speck.