The first annual ASSEMBLED: The Handmade Arts Market at Assembly Row will begin on Saturday May 18. The market’s kick off will feature over 30 Boston Etsy artisans and vendors, becoming the first Etsy sales event to take place in Somerville.
Dara Cheek, the Boston Etsy team leader and a Brighton resident, said ASSEMBLED provides the perfect opportunity for Etsy artists to interact directly with their potential customers. She said the event also gives area artists the opportunity to network and learn from each other.
“We’re trying to increase events where we can interact in person and create a live community of Boston area artists,” Cheek said. “That was the vision behind the May 18 kick off of ASSEMBLED.”
Cheek said there are about 400 Etsy vendors in the Boston area, and that 30 of them will be showing at the May 18 ASSEMBLED event She said the art ranges from jewelry, custom clothing and stained glass to ceramic sculptures, handmade soaps and locally based photography. She said the event will also offer a free workshop on how to increase one’s online presence in the Etsy community.
Jessica Sun Lee, a Brighton resident and Etsy artist that will be featured on May 18, makes custom birch wall art, coasters, totes and kid’s clothing through her company Love on the Blocks. She said she is excited to participate in ASSEMBLED because it gives her a chance to help her customers fall in love with her products in person rather than over the computer.
“It’s a whole different thing when people get to see and feel what you’re making,” Lee said. “It brings it to life.”
Sarah Hodin—who will also be featured on May 18—is a Newton resident and the founder of Nyora Beads, a nonprofit organization that sells Kenyan jewelry to raise funds for building a school. Hodin said that while completing her thesis in Nairobi, she met and partnered with a Kenyan jeweler, Fredrick Gor, to sell his handmade African beaded jewelry in the United States. All of the proceeds of Nyora Beads go directly towards building a free school in Gor’s village. Hodin hopes that participating in ASSEMBLED will connect the Boston area to Kenya.
“Art—and in this case jewelry—is a great way to connect people. There’s something about putting on a necklace you know was made from a man in Nairobi. When you know the story behind it, when you feel that necklace, you feel connected to [the person who made it] and that story,” Hodin said. “I’m personally invested in Fredrick, his story and his dream. I’d love to build a school and have Nyora beads be successful.”
While the May 18th market is centered on Etsy artists, the summer long market—which will take place every Saturday until late September—will feature different themes each week. Other themes include Fair Trade Locally Made, White Barn Heirlooms: Recycled. Reclaimed. Repurposed. and Steampunk.
Andi Simpson, the director of marketing and tourism/corporate communications for Assembly Row, said one of the ideas behind creating ASSEMBLED was to bring art and community to the under-construction area before its first phase is completed in 2014.
“When you look at the [area’s] different puzzle pieces of having the second highest number of artists per capita in the country, our development of the area through an artful lens and how we’re trying to build a community [in Assembly Row], it just made sense to start doing some of the programming and events and kicking them off now instead of waiting for the neighborhood to be fully open and running,” Simpson said.
Simpson said Assembly Row partnered with Etsy in order to provide a trusted, brand name for the Somerville community to enjoy. She said that while Etsy is well known online, shoppers are rarely given the opportunity to interact with the artists, and bringing ASSEMBLED to Somerville will be a great way to bring the two together.
“ASSEMBLED will give Etsy a face and allow them to interact one-on-one with a community that loves art,” Simpson said. “It’s a great opportunity for a lot of people on a lot of different levels.”
Cheek encourages everyone to come and check out the market throughout the summer. She said there are a lot of great artists in the area, and that she believes in supporting handmade art.
“[Handmade items] have a value that a machine made product doesn’t have. It’s good to be able to tell someone what the story is behind it, and to know the one you got is the only one there is,” Cheek said. “Having an event like this celebrates and exalts that, and it encourages people to buy handmade.”
The event will also feature food trucks on a rotating basis, including: Bon Me, The Happy Taco, Frozen Hoagies, Boston Super Dog, Compliments, Grilled Cheese Nation, Paris Creperie’s La Tour Eiffel and Away Café.
ASSEMBLED: The Handmade Arts Market at Assembly Row, will kick off at 1 Assembly Square, Somerville on May 18 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will occur every Saturday (excluding holidays) until September 21.
For more information, directions or to participate as a vendor, visit ASSEMBLED’s website.