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Gather : handmade shoppe & Co.: Pop-up Events Build a Supportive Community for Makers by Julie Warren

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“There are so many talented people in Bloomington and the state, but it can be hard for them to get their products to market,” says Talia Halliday, owner of Gather : handmade shoppe & Co.:. “I want to help them be successful and help build a supportive community.” Gather stocks handmade goods by more than 250 makers and artists and hosts pop-up events that give the opportunity to showcase the breadth of their work and to engage with customers firsthand. | Photo by Anna Powell Teeter

“There are so many talented people in Bloomington and the state, but it can be hard for them to get their products to market,” says Talia Halliday, owner of Gather : handmade shoppe & Co.:. “I want to help them be successful and help build a supportive community.” Gather stocks handmade goods by more than 250 makers and artists and hosts pop-up events that give the opportunity to showcase the breadth of their work and to engage with customers firsthand. | Photo by Anna Powell Teeter

It started as a pop-up shop, one of the first (if not the first) in Bloomington. Talia Halliday is a maker, a person who makes art or craft items by hand. A maker is like an artisan, but the term is used somewhat less formally; makers are typically self-taught and create items that blend traditional arts and crafts with contemporary styles and techniques. Like many makers, Talia was making products on a small scale, using some of her spare time to bind journals for her company, Conduit Press. She made enough items, along with products from other local makers, to fill a tiny retail space in downtown Bloomington for a few weeks. The pop-up shop was a success, and Gather : handmade shoppe & Co.: was born.

Gather carries a wide variety of unique, handcrafted gifts, including ceramics, illustrations, jewelry, candles, clothing, and more.

Gather carries a wide variety of unique, handcrafted gifts, including ceramics, illustrations, jewelry, candles, clothing, and more.

Though Halliday has been able to advance from a temporary pop-up to a brick and mortar retail store featuring hundreds of items by numerous makers, she still likes to recreate that event-driven shopping experience. Besides the Bloomington Handmade Market events she helps produce, she also hosts pop-up shops inside Gather, including five in December. “The pop-up shops we do now are basically trunk shows. It’s just that no one uses the term ‘trunk show’ any more,” says Halliday. The experience is updated too, with an opportunity to talk to the makers directly and see the full lineup of their products. These pop-up events benefit the maker and Gather. Halliday explains, “We will see larger crowds in the shop during these events, but my main motivation for hosting these is to help fellow makers promote and sell their products.”

The beauty of meeting a maker in person is that the maker can share how their work is made. (left) Virtuous Bee, founded by Jennifer Bland, makes a variety of honey- and beeswax-based bath and body products, some of which are sourced from her family’s own hives. At Bland’s pop-up event during the Holiday Hike on December 6, visitors to Gather can sample the Virtuous Bee’s wares and figure out which one is right for them. (right) “When I first contacted Talia about carrying my products, 407 was a brand-new company,” says Amy Smith, founder of 407 Botanicals, which makes natural skincare and bath products. “She didn’t hesitate to give me a chance, and now stocks almost my entire product line. She cares about the success of her makers.” Check out 407 Botanicals’ peppermint products for the holidays!

The beauty of meeting a maker in person is that the maker can share how their work is made. (left) Virtuous Bee, founded by Jennifer Bland, makes a variety of honey- and beeswax-based bath and body products, some of which are sourced from her family’s own hives. At Bland’s pop-up event during the Holiday Hike on December 6, visitors to Gather can sample the Virtuous Bee’s wares and figure out which one is right for them. (right) “When I first contacted Talia about carrying my products, 407 was a brand-new company,” says Amy Smith, founder of 407 Botanicals, which makes natural skincare and bath products. “She didn’t hesitate to give me a chance, and now stocks almost my entire product line. She cares about the success of her makers.” Check out 407 Botanicals’ peppermint products for the holidays!

Chelsea Jones of Tactile Melodies is a metalsmith who makes simple, classy metal jewelry for everyday wear. At her pop-up event at Gather on December 22, Jones will bring a wide range of work that isn’t regularly displayed at the shoppe. “I love meeting customers and making small adjustments to pieces that make it just right,” she says.

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This is the foundation Gather was built on: providing a place to support makers and bring them together with enthusiastic buyers. Amy Smith, founder of 407 Botanicals, has experienced the positive impact of collaborating with Halliday and other makers. “When I first contacted Talia about carrying my products, 407 was a brand-new company,” says Smith. “She didn’t hesitate to give me a chance, and now stocks almost my entire product line. She cares about the success of her makers.”

Smith makes luxury, plant-based skincare and bath products with a focus on aromatherapy. She sources high-quality ingredients and has created a range of popular products. But knowing how to make something does not mean knowing how to sell it. Makers often learn from each other. “When you’re just forming your business, you have so many questions,” says Smith. “The maker community is so generous and supportive.”

Fellow maker Chelsea Jones of Tactile Melodies echoes that sentiment. “The community of working artists I’ve met through Gather has been a great sounding board for my business,” she says. “I’ve learned a lot about the retailer’s side of things and made improvements to my packaging, designs, and communications, thanks to the Gather community.” Jones makes simple, classy metal jewelry for everyday wear, and at the pop-up event that she is part of, she brings the usual favorites plus some extras. “I bring a wider range of jewelry, things not typically available in the shop,” she says. “I love meeting customers and making small adjustments to pieces that make it just right.”

Getting information and assistance straight from the maker is the key perk for shoppers at a pop-up event. “I’ll have samples of balms and salves that you can use right there, and we can talk about how they’re made and what product is right for you,” says Jennifer Bland, founder and Queen Bee at The Virtuous Bee. Bland makes handcrafted natural, mostly organic bath, body, and home products. Honey and beeswax are the central ingredient in all her goods, as Bland is also a beekeeper.

The customers that Gather attracts come to the store or events with specific expectations, and that’s exactly why Bland enjoys working with Halliday. “Like many makers, I do this part-time, so the time I can spend on making and selling products is limited and precious,” says Bland. “My products are in just a couple of stores, one being Gather, and I only attend the events that Talia is involved in because I know it will be well-run and it will attract customers who will appreciate my products.” Even though handmade products can be a little more expensive, they are worth it, and Gather customers know that. “They come because of, not in spite of, the pricing,” says Bland. “They know it’s top-quality.”

Having an established clientele and providing promotion for the store and events is a huge benefit to the makers who work with Halliday. They know the events will be busy with a diverse group of makers and products represented. They are confident the store will display their wares in an appealing way and that working with Halliday will be easy. Customers have come to expect the same things: they can find quality, handmade products in a comfortable shopping environment.

For Halliday, her store and the pop-up events are a way to share the wealth with other makers. “There are so many talented people in Bloomington and the state, but it can be hard for them to get their products to market,” she says. “I want to help them be successful and help build a supportive community.” For Halliday, Gather is not just the name of her store, but a call to action.

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(left) From ‘Star Wars’ to ‘Stranger Things,’ Gather has fan art for everyone. (center) In addition to hosting events for makers, Gather also offers gallery space for artists. During November 2018, they exhibited the work of local printmaker Kim Ransdell. Stop by the shoppe on the first Friday of each month, as they’re open late (til 8 p.m.) for Gallery Walk! (right) Halliday is a maker herself and makes leather bags and hand-bound journals for her company Conduit Press. Several of her items can be spotted on the yellow table above, and around the shoppe.

(left) From ‘Star Wars’ to ‘Stranger Things,’ Gather has fan art for everyone. (center) In addition to hosting events for makers, Gather also offers gallery space for artists. During November 2018, they exhibited the work of local printmaker Kim Ransdell. Stop by the shop on the first Friday of each month, as they’re open late (till 8 p.m.) for Gallery Walk! (right) Halliday is a maker herself and makes leather bags and hand-bound journals for her company Conduit Press. Several of her items can be spotted on the yellow table above, and around the shop.

Upcoming Events at Gather

Gather : handmade shoppe & Co.:, 116 N. Walnut St. in downtown Bloomington, will host pop-up shops with the following companies:

December 2, 12-3 p.m.Island of Misfit Toys, an all-kids craft show featuring kids’ art

December 6, 4–7 p.m.: The Virtuous Bee, Rosmarino Candles, and Skirt & Satchel (this pop-up is part of the downtown Holiday Hike shopping event)

December 8, 12–3 p.m.: Skirt & Satchel

December 15, 12–3 p.m.: Fearless Ringleader and Starsprinkle Supercollider

December 22, 12–3 p.m.: 407 Botanicals and Tactile Melodies

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Find details on these events and store information at gathershoppe.com

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