The Patchwork Show Modern Makers Festival, which has welcomed 500,000 people to shop local in cities across the U.S. for the past 13 years, is coming to Santa Rosa on June 6.
Taking place at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, the event will feature handmade finds — home decor, apparel, jewelry and more — from more than 100 vendors. It marks the beginning of a return to normal for local artisans, who, throughout the pandemic, have lost income due to shutdowns.
While many artisans have started to sell their goods online during the pandemic, craft shows like Patchwork offer an additional venue to connect with customers and other craftspersons.
“Not only do they make sales, increase brand visibility and grow their customer base but they also spend a day with other makers,” said Nicole Stevenson, a Santa Rosa-based artist and entrepreneur who organizes the festival. “Most of us creatives work alone in spare rooms or backyard studios. We don’t have a water cooler to hang around to talk shop.”
Stevenson, who owns and operates Dear Handmade Life, organized makers markets in Southern California before moving to Santa Rosa and also offers entrepreneurial coaching and community building for “creatives and passionate small business owners” through her blog, podcasts, conferences and annual maker camps.
The Santa Rosa artist likes to share the knowledge she’s gained from her own, sometimes bumpy, professional road. She started out by selling her paintings in the parking lot of the Hollywood Flea Market and on a blanket in Venice Beach alongside other artists — many of them homeless. After seeing that people were quicker to buy apparel than artwork, she put her hand-painted designs on handbags, which were sold in boutiques. As her artistic designs became increasingly popular, she began silk-screening them onto clothing.
But as Stevenson’s creative business grew, so did her sense of overwhelm. She left Southern California and moved in with a friend in Santa Rosa so she could finish a Master’s degree in English at San Francisco State University. She fell in love with the area — the country roads, the quaint little towns, the ocean and the easy access to San Francisco — and made Sonoma County her home.
Throughout her career, Stevenson has seen how artists and artisans often struggle when it comes to running a business. She realized that many could use some guidance regarding how to price their work, pivot or scale their business according to their goals, so she began offering “Craftcation Conferences,” which she jokingly calls “an MBA in a weekend.” The conferences are typically offered in Ventura, northwest of Los Angeles, but this year they are offered via Zoom.
Right now, however, Stevenson is looking forward to the in-person event at the fairgrounds, which, in addition to maker booths, will feature DIY craft stations and activities as well as music from local DJs. The family-friendly event will also have a Mini Music festival for kids with singalongs and dance from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Due to COVID-19 regulations, food will not be served at the event but attendees can check out a Yelp list of nearby restaurants created by event organizers. Booths will be placed ten feet apart, masks as well as social distancing will be required, and there will be hand sanitizing stations throughout the event area. Find more event information here.
Patchwork Show Modern Makers Festival, June 6, 2021, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sonoma County Fairgrounds (outside The Hall of Flowers), 1350 Bennett Valley Rd., Santa Rosa, dearhandmadelife.com, admission is free.