Make It is returning to Calgary after a 5-year break! It seems like the perfect time to return because of the crazy popularity of craft fairs and maker culture. The first Make It Calgary was at the Chinese Cultural Centre, and now the show is moving to the Big Four Building to accommodate over 175 Makies.
How Make It got started was when siblings Jenna (www.jennaherbut.com) and Chandler Herbut (www.oleoriginals.com) had the idea to create a craft fair that their peers would want to sell at. Being makers themselves, they saw a need for something fresh and new. At the time there wasn’t a whole lot of ‘cool’ crafty events and the handmade revelation had only just begun. Etsy was new on the seen and social media had only just started.
The first ever Make It took place in Edmonton in 2008 at a tiny community centre. There were 25 exhibitors who were also enthusiastic about a craft fair that targeted a different type of customer and did things a little differently. There was also a bar and DJ, which made the whole vibe of Make It feel like something fresh, hip and new.
After a super positive response from exhibitors, (who are now lovingly called Makies) and customers Make It quickly grew in size and expanded to Vancouver and later Calgary. As the show became more and more popular, Jenna and Chandler had to constantly look for larger and larger venues. Unfortunately, they had a difficult time finding a big enough venue in Calgary, which is why they decided to take a break and focus on Edmonton and Vancouver.
Over the past 5 years, both Make It Edmonton and Vancouver have increased rapidly in size. The holiday shows feature 275 Makies from all over the country and attracts over 20,000 handmade loving customers. Jenna and Chandler attribute the rapid growth to people making different buying decisions and appreciating products that are made with love and intention.
The handmade movement is one that has picked up SO much momentum over the last few years. Craft fairs and markets are popping up all over the place because of customer demands for a shopping experience that is meaningful and gratifying. Jenna explains, ‘when you buy something from a maker you get to experience their passion and love for what they are creating. You become part of their story and it just feels good and more meaningful than buying something mass produced.’
One of the results of Make It growing and expanding is the community that surrounds it. The Makies have become a tight knit group and offer a strong level of support and commodity to each other. Often times being a solopreneur can be isolating and lonely, which is why a community of like-minded people is so important.
Customers who come out to Make It are usually drawn to the show because they want to find products that are unique, well made, and beautiful. It can feel like a treasure hunt because there are so many pretty, shiny things to look at! They love talking to veteran Makies, and also meeting new ones who have just started out on their creative entrepreneurial journey.
Make It Calgary is going to be amazing because there are over 175 Makies from all over the country, but 45 of them are local Calgarians. Many of them also have never done a show in Calgary so this will also be an opportunity to find something that’s totally one-of-a-kind. Shoppers who come to Make It Calgary will be blown away by the talent, creativity and innovation they find.
One of the differentiation Make It has always maintained is creating a fun, upbeat atmosphere. This is done through a beer garden, food trucks and good tunes. The vibe at the show is something that people constantly comment on. Make It has an atmosphere that makes ideas feel possible!
Last year Jenna bought Chandler out of Make It because his T-shirt company, Ole Originals, has grown like crazy over the years and he was feeling challenged in running both. Jenna’s plan is to continue growing Make It so more Makies can make a living doing what they love.