The Story of Shore Made Artisan Collective

ShoreMade.org

https://www.facebook.com/groups/988488035150313/?ref=share_group_link

Our motto & social media hashtag:

Artisans Supporting Artisans

#artisanssupportingartisans

Background:

In 2020, during the long, solitary early days of the pandemic, Salisbury, Maryland resident Cyndi Funkhouser discovered that she had a hidden talent for sewing. Upon realizing this, her first priority was making attractive, fashionable fabric face masks in response to the overwhelming need and demand for them. She heeded Etsy’s call to artisans to shift gears and make masks for their customers and, consequently, she sold hundreds of them to people who desired a step above a clinical, plain paper mask. When the mask frenzy died down, she shifted her focus to becoming self-educated on how to make a variety of bags and accessories – particularly ones which could be laundered. This is where she discovered her real passion and was able to let her creativity run wild. After putting a great deal of time and effort into developing her skills and gaining confidence in the marketability of her handmade products, she launched her own small business, Belle Originals, in the summer of 2021. Under the Belle Originals name, she created a website which includes a blog (https://belleoriginals.com), runs a successful 5-star rated Etsy shop (https://www.etsy.com/shop/BelleOriginalsShop), maintains active profiles on both Instagram & Facebook, has gained a loyal following of friends and family, has some of her products for sale locally on a consignment basis, and has participated in local vendor events.

It was through participating in local vendor events and trying to get her business recognized in the local community that a seed was planted, one which would eventually grow into the concept behind her latest passion project. She knew all too well what is involved with creating a small business from the ground up, all while also working a full time day job. She also knew that most other local artisans in a similar position to hers likely do not have the time, money, audience, or expertise to market themselves in the manner that they’d prefer. She envisioned assembling a collaborative group of artisans from the eastern shores of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia who would come together to support and promote one another. In July, 2022, she came up with the name Shore Made Artisan Collective, created a profile page and group on Facebook, and started doing grassroots outreach to other local artisans in an attempt to get the word out and begin building a community.

Amy Rhodes from Mardela Springs, Maryland – artisan and owner of Hippie at Heart Designs – responded to Cyndi’s introductory message with a great deal of interest and enthusiasm. They met for a chat, realized immediately that they had a common vision and shared goals, and just like that, a partnership was born! Amy also began her business venture in 2021, beginning with handmade pottery and expanding into illustrations and hand drawn stickers. She, too, has Facebook and Instagram pages. Her items can be found for sale at Mermaid’s Menagerie on Rt. 50W in Hebron, Maryland as well at local artisan markets.

Since the time that Cyndi and Amy met that fateful day in mid-July, they have expanded Shore Made Artisan Collective’s reach by creating and promoting their website, ShoreMade.org, which includes an Artisan Spotlight page on which local artisans may sign up to be featured and a detailed Events page, among other useful content. Thanks to their continued person-to-person outreach, their Facebook group has gained a following of 235 members in just 2 months’ time. They have planned an artisan market event which will take place November 5, 2022 on the grounds of Mermaid’s Menagerie in Hebron, Maryland. So far, a total of 32 artisans have signed up to participate in the event, which will be free for both artisans and shoppers – a perk which Cyndi and Amy intend to carry forward for all future events. They also plan to hold a raffle for a gift basket filled with handmade items contributed by market vendors, the proceeds from which will be used to continue to provide artisans with support at no cost to them.

If you’d like to contact Shore Made Artisan Collective, please reach out via email at [email protected].

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