Shop Local KC supports local artists and makers with online shop
The Strawberry Swing has been a staple in the Kansas City crafting community since its founding in 2011. With seasonal festivals and pop-ups in between, The Strawberry Swing keeps the craft scene in KC vibrant and provides a great source of revenue for local makers.
As with many things, COVID-19 and the precautions in place to prevent the spread of the virus have stopped all Swing gatherings. In what looked like a disastrous situation for local makers supported by seasonal swings, The Strawberry Swing’s ingenuity has provided hope to the business, local makers, and all of those wanting to help by getting some of KC’s finest creative products.
The Strawberry Swing has moved online at shoplocalkc.com. With the same spirit as their in-person maker fairs, the website is designed to showcase art for sale by local makers. From paintings to clothing, jewelry to unique flower pots, and even masks, an array of locally-produced products are available on the website. Support for local artists is more important now than ever.
“The Strawberry Swing is an in-person event where makers sell their handmades to our community and depend on our seasonal festival for income, making anywhere from $1,500 – $17,000 at our shows. I knew I had to help these same people thrive since I couldn’t do it in festival form, so an online, 24/7 version of The Swing was the way to go.” says Swing curator and owner Katie Mabry van Dieren. “Plus, I could help more makers this way, as the event is juried and only a certain amount of makers can showcase due to space restrictions. The website allows for curation but also, for more participants!”
Shop Local KC currently features 135 local creators, but there is still space for more artists to have their work on display. If you or someone you know, needs more eyes on their products during these dire times, the steps to get your work shown on the website are simple.
“They can go to shoplocalkc.com and click the Contact Us tab—there is a form they can complete to get on the site there. Alternatively, they can email me at email@example.com,” says Mabry van Dieren.
There is no official word on if the site will stay up once stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, but The Strawberry Swing is optimistic that this platform will be permanent along with the in-person events.
Shopping on Shop Local KC is one way to help community creators at this time, but Mabry van Dieren suggests that it is not the only way to show support.
“There are many ways and they don’t all involve purchasing their products, as we all know this pandemic is affecting everything from jobs, to supplies, to incomes. Share those makers’ sites out. Tell your people about your cool friend who makes soap; share their social media site. If you need to buy a gift for someone, look local instead of Amazon or a big box chain. Most makers on Shop Local KC will mail the same day or within a few days (if it’s not a made-to-order item) and some will even deliver to your or your loved one’s home,” says Mabry van Dieren.
And when is a better time than now to lift up those you care for with a unique gift. Local makers, musicians, chefs, anyone who creates a creative project deserves to have their voice shared now. Even that old friend from college who keeps messaging you about finally reading their screenplay they promise will “change the way you see the world forever dude.”
As the world is upside down, individuals have to find clever new ways to get their products out there. Local makers are struggling, but there is hope to be had.
“My advice would be to keep going. Take this time to pivot and get your online shop set up. I have a site called Craft Show CEO (craftshowceo.com) which has a plethora of advice on it. You’ll find info, like how to take product photos with your smart home while you are quarantined, and we also have an online community on Facebook and Instagram under the Craft Show Success moniker. Listen to podcasts or watch videos of experts, and take this time to learn how to market your products. My main advice is photos are EVERYTHING, so do some research on how to get some good product photos with either your phone or camera,” says Mabry van Dieren.
One creative idea that Mabry van Dieren has come up with is a live “Meet the Makers session.
“We will be going live with Meet the Maker Episodes where I will be the host and I’ll ‘interview’ two to three makers, QVC-style, so viewers can shop from home,” says Mabry van Dieren. The show will stream live on the Strawberry Swing Facebook page. Mabry van Dieren also partnered with Cumulus Media’s wegotthiskc.com, which is highlighting all things KC—including job listings, how you can help, where to shop and eat local, and more.
“We may have a virtual Swing soon!” adds Mabry van Dieren. “I am taking it one day at a time right now as I am working full time. My husband is a chef and his locally owned restaurant was closed due to Covid-19, my kids are home from school and I can’t have my festival. Having Shop Local KC to concentrate on while I homeschool has been awesome for me, and I hope to keep it up once everything calms down.”
The Pitch’s Coloring KC coloring book is available at Shop Local KC. Proceeds go towards The Pitch and Local Artists with submitted work.