Each quarter the crafters and artisans at Artful Persuasion will support a different local charity By LORI GALLAGHER
Community is a big part of Artful Persuasion, a downtown shop featuring local crafters and artisans.
Not only have the 26 people involved formed their own kind of community, they’re doing what they can to give back to the greater community that supports them.
Artful Persuasion is a collective of 26 local crafters and artisans, says Sarah Smith-Stewart, a member of the group’s steering committee.
“We first opened May 15 and we had a grand opening on June 1,” she says, noting that all but one of their members have been involved since before they opened their doors.
“Everybody was on-board to help out because the way we operate is that we’re a collective and everybody puts their time and effort into it.”
It’s not a consignment store, where someone drops their stuff off and are paid when it sells.
“This is a full-on retail store. If you can imagine, it’s like there are 26 little retails stores within this one space. So everybody pitches in on the expenses and everybody is also here,” says Smith-Stewart.
“We don’t have an employee, we are the employees. Every time someone comes, they’re going to meet a different crafter, which is nice. So the first thing people say is ‘Which one are you?’ so you get to show them your stuff.”
Each group member knows a little bit about one another’s craft, and if more information is needed by a customer, it’s easy to get.
“We have an online group so we can keep in contact. It’s not just a once a month meeting, we keep in contact daily,” she says.
So far things are going well. To keep the collective running smoothly, the crafters have been broken down into three committees, an administrative committee, a publicity/promotions committee and a cleaning committee.
“We can’t expect everybody to be of the exact same mind set. We’re all wonderful crafters and we all do incredible work, but we all have different personalities,” says Smith-Stewart. “If you feel you do better with paperwork, there’s a role for you. If you are an intense cleaner and a neat freak, there’s a role for you. Everybody’s got a place.”
Those different personalities are reflected in the wide array of crafts that Artful Persuasion has on display.
“We try to make sure that everybody has a unique craft so that even if we have multiples of the same craft, they’re done in a different style so we have a nice variety and we don’t have any one craft that’s taking away from another one,” she says.
They have jewelry, textiles, hand-dyed fabrics, crochet, knitting, sewing, woodwork, candles, beauty products, baking without gluten, cupcakes, children’s accessories, up-cycled items, stained glass and more.
The reaction, she says, has been overwhelmingly positive from customers.
“They love it. We have so many people who come in that will say, ‘I love to buy local but I don’t want to have to go to multiple markets or multiple spaces.’ They come in here and they get to by local.”
Plus they have a selection that allows them to find something for everyone they’re looking for.
“It’s kind of a one-stop shop if they want to buy local,” says Smith-Stewart.
“We really want to adhere to the buy local within the Fredericton area. We have one from just outside St. Andrews and one from around Sussex. We’re not Nova Scotia and Ontario, we’re really trying to promote our local craft. It has to be done that way because everyone is taking part. If someone was from Nova Scotia, they couldn’t take part in the collective aspect of it, and that’s what we’re all about.”
The shop is located in the old Mazzuca’s Variety Store space on York Street. This puts Artful Persuasion at the centre of the action, for both locals and tourists alike.
Truly being a part of the greater community is important to the members of the collective, so they have decided to feature a different charity each quarter.
During that period, they will do three different projects to raise money to aid the organization in an artistic way. Their inaugural choice is Opal III.
“The first month we did gift baskets. Everybody contributed a small item and we were able to make three full gift baskets out of them,” says Smith-Stewart.
One of the ways they promoted that was through Facebook. Social media has been a great tool for the collective to promote themselves and what they’re up to, while keeping expenses low.
“In our second month, I have these little trinkets called Gracie Fairies because they supported my daughter on her road to brain surgery,” she says.
Four-and-a-half-year-old Gracie Stewart is doing fantastic now and is going to kindergarten this fall. Since she no longer needs the fairies, her mother wants to use them to help others.
“Opal III is an organization that helped my daughter and also helped a couple of other members. Everybody knows who they are in the community, and they know that they do good work. They might not know what they do, though,” says Smith-Stewart.
“Their goal is essentially to support families who have family members, whether it’s children or adults, with intellectual disabilities or delays.”
Artful Persuasion wants to help local charities in a way that supports the collective’s mandate to spread craft and artisan work around.
“We thought that throughout the summer, (Opal III) could use craft supplies. They could use entries into museums. They could use all these activities, because you have to think how huge art therapy is,” says Smith-Stewart.
For example, Opal III has a respite apartment that the shop hopes to supply with creative items for the use of those who stay there.
To raise money during month two, the shop will be selling the Gracie Fairy earrings for $10, with $5 per pair going towards the Opal III campaign.
The group are not sure what they’ll do during month three to raise money, she says, but you can be sure it will be something creative.
Other things in the works include an outdoor artisan’s market for the downtown area and classes in the back of the store.
For more information about the different projects, visit www.facebook.com/artfulpersuasion , email email@example.com or call 450-0664.
Artful Persuasion, located at 79 York St., is a tax-included store. It is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a .m. to 6 p.m.