Local female artisans aim to empower women at this fall’s CraftHer Market.
By Danielle Ortiz, Photos by Dahlia Dandashi, Courtesy of Annie Anzaldua and Courtesy of Monica Bushong
Creativity and community unite for 2018’s second CraftHer Market, a biannual pop-up shop curated by BossBabesATX to amplify the talent and artistry of self-identifying women crafters, artisans and makers. More than 100 women vendors will sell their handmade wares Oct. 21 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Fair Market in East Austin.
Austin Woman sat down with four vendors to discuss their experiences, inspiration and struggles as they prep for the CraftHer Market this weekend.
Owner of Austin-based accessory shop Eythink and the brains behind retail trailer The Mall, Lindsay Eyth is looking forward to her third CraftHer Market. She shares the inspiration behind her empowering brand.
Austin Woman: What inspired you to create Eythink?
Lindsay Eyth: I had been making objects under the name Eythink for a decade. In the summer of 2014, I made a T-shirt with a quote related to the political moment. On that same week, a guy used the C-word on a date with me and in that moment, I realized that there’s no right way to be a woman in the world. I made a design and was motivated to put it on a shirt. From that point, it took off.
AW: What response have you received?
LE: I get messages from people thanking me for creating something as simple as a keychain that says “Doing the Damn Thing.” I’ve heard people say my stuff gives them a pep talk. I’ve known people who have filed police reports against those who have assaulted them while wearing a T-shirt that I made because it made them feel stronger. Those [sorts]of things really humble me and make me feel lucky to be able to put art into the world.
AW: What sets the CraftHer Market apart from other craft markets?
LE: CraftHer Market is very special. It’s the most community-oriented market I’ve ever participated in. I think they make the vendors feel supported in a way I’ve never seen at any other market, even ones that I do really like. They go above and beyond.
AW:What has your experience been like as a woman with her own business?
LE: It’s deeply gratifying, and I think culturally, we’re in [a]moment where woman are really supporting each other, so it really is an opportunity to connect with women on a deep level. It’s challenging to be woman trying to survive in the world generally. The things that we’re up against [make]day-to-day life harder, regardless of what we’re doing.
It’s the most community-oriented market I’ve ever participated in.
With a background in performance art, Monica Bushong, who goes by MB, was accustomed to creating work that is based on conversation or experience. She didn’t think creating physical goods could have the same effect until 2018. After a traumatic experience, she moved back to her hometown of Austin and coped with her stress by meditating and drawing what she calls “blops.” She shares about running her own business.
AW: You make goods and stickers in these shapes you call “blops.” How did you come up with the idea?
Monica Bushong: I started using holographic vinyl and making tons of these shapes. It’s a meditative process. I draw them all out. I decorate mugs and planters by hand. It’s all a performance I do for myself that I’m able to share with other people. … I’ll stick [the stickers]around on street lamps, dumpsters. I find places you may not notice them until the light catches it…leaving behind these happy little moments that other people might catch and rewarding people who look around at the world around them. I take the mundane things and make them very special.
AW: What is the meaning behind the name Mindsoup?
MB: After my traumatic experience, I felt like I had all of my thoughts and negative emotions just swirling around in my head. I visualized churning in a huge vat of soup, just spinning around and I was standing there with a huge ladle just turning it. I finally looked at this [vision]of myself and took the spoon out and some of the soup went flying and those “blops” started shimmering in the light. To me, that was the stillness I needed to see. Those little blops of mind soup became these shiny little happy things that I wanted to carry on and give to other people.
AW: What has your experience been like as a woman with her own business?
MB: I go by a moniker when I sell my art to avoid gender stereotypes. MB is a lot easier to be considered for grants and available space [than]Monica has. A lot of my male friends who sell artwork don’t get solicited in the same way that women do. Me and my female friends who sell artwork notice, especially on Instagram, the different gross messages men send us. There are people who led me on as a customer. I get excited that they want to purchase something that I made by hand and then they follow up and say, “You’re really hot. Can I get your phone number?” And I’m like, “No! I’m trying to run a business.”
I take the mundane things and make them very special.
Annie Anzaldua created The F Word Gift Shop in 2017 to empower women and celebrate intersectional feminism. She donates 15 percent of proceeds to Planned Parenthood, carries responsibly sourced T-shirts and offers inclusive sizing. She shares the inspiration behind her popular designs.
AW: How did your background in the fashion industry impact your current career?
Annie Anzaldua: I went to school for fashion design and right out of college, I got hired to work for Abercrombie & Fitch. It was awful. There was fat shaming and terrible environmental practices and so, I wanted to quit the second my contract expired. It made me want to do something positive in fashion.
AW: What inspired the name The F Word Gift Shop?
AA: My husband actually came up with it. We were having a conversation about how feminism is a taboo word. It’s not a bad word like the F-word and that’s when he said, “Well, F is for feminists.”
AW: What inspires your design?
AA: I like looking at vintage photos to see if I can pull themes from that, especially from the suffragettes way back in the day. It’s interesting to look back at that kind of concept and then compare it to what’s happening now.
AW: What has your experience been like as a woman running her own business?
AA: There [have]definitely been struggles. The first thing that comes to mind is when I wanted to print this one card that says “You’re the tits.” Our original card maker was a man and refused to print it because he said it was offensive. Now it’s our bestselling card. As a woman, you just get more pushback on things in general [than]if you were a man. If I had a male name, I wouldn’t be getting as many emails that ask me if I’m sure.
As a woman, you just get more pushback on things in general [than]if you were a man.
Ellyn Rivers didn’t expect to start her own business after moving back home to Austin from Seattle to take care of her father. While she was dedicating her time to being his caretaker, Rivers found solace in creating colorful marbled paper art, which grew into Blue.Child, her shop that carries marbled journals, stationery and even earrings.
AW: How did the experience of moving back to take care of your father impact your art?
Ellyn Rivers: It was a couple of months where my life wasn’t mine anymore. I didn’t have those privileges I had before. I found myself stuck and needing to find an outlet, so I turned to paper marbling. It became my therapy, so anytime my dad didn’t need me, I was marbling.
AW: What challenges have you faced as a first-time business owner?
ER: Initially, I thought I wasn’t ready. I’ve always struggled with always feeling I’m unprepared or not professional enough and big enough. I’m constantly having to prove to myself and even others around me to take me seriously. These are all messages I’ve been taught. It’s been a struggle to fight through them. I also struggled on how to tackle being a queer-women-owned business and how vocal I am about my identity to people I sell my work to. There’s a lot of people who, if they saw my Instagram, would know I am queer and wouldn’t buy from me. That’s something that I decided I’m not going to hide and empower myself.
AW: What inspires your work?
ER: There’s a common thread in my work that is inspired by what my dad has been through. He thankfully got a transplant days before he was going to die. Through this whole process, we’ve both learned the value of letting go and not taking things so seriously. Paper marbling is a lesson in not taking things seriously and not being attached to the end outcome. It’s not perfect and you just have to trust the process. I think it reflects in my products because each piece is therapy for me.
AW: How are you feeling about your first CraftHer Market experience?
ER: It’s both super exciting and also very scary. I am working nonstop to make as many products as possible. I’m excited to see all the different vendors, tons of different women and nonbinary artists making amazing work. There isn’t a hoarding of ideas because people want to share with each other and I’m really excited to connect with the other vendors.
Paper marbling is a lesson in not taking things seriously and not being attached to the end outcome. It’s not perfect and you just have to trust the process.