Houston is not traditionally associated with indie craft and design fairs, but a movement is afoot to bring do-it-yourself local goods to everyday Houstonians, including Rice University students.
This past Sunday, AvantGarden hosted its first monthly folk market, featuring over 20 vendors hawking their locally produced organic and cruelty-free wares. In a city of strip malls, Houstonians were given a chance to support small independent businesses, ranging from those selling vintage clothing to homebound notebooks. The inaugural folk market kicked off a folk market series which AvantGarden will host every third Sunday of the month from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The monthly markets have been set up in anticipation of Pop Shop Houston, which promotes itself as a two-day creative fair showcasing independent designers.
"This is really a celebration of the culture of makers," Brittany Bly, the organizer of Sunday's market, said.
The market curated local independent designers who have Etsy.com virtual shops and were looking to sell their work to a wider audience.
One such independent crafter selling her items was Jamie Chatterton, the owner of 1 Plus 2 = Love. She sells handcrafted items such as vintage cards and notebooks made from tree-free paper. Chatterton's paper is instead produced from coffee, lemon, banana and mango.
"I try to create a sustainable product," Chatterton said. "There are so many treefree papers out there."
Maria Martinez, the owner of X, a shop selling organic beauty products, said all of her lip balms were cruelty-free.
"I test on my friends, not on animals," Martinez said. "I think people really like the idea that it's organic and natural, that you know what's going into it and [that you are] not ingesting anything that's potentially dangerous."
Martinez expressed her support for folk markets because to her, these craft fairs represent Houston's creative culture and consumer consciousness.
"In Houston, we have great diversity, import/exports and medical facilities, but people skip over Houston's culture because they think the only thing in Houston is oil, gas and power." Martinez said.
The emphasis on sustainability was a major draw for attendees. Young crowds enjoyed the live music by Reverberations DJ, $2 tacos, cheap cocktails and crepes from Melange Creperie.
Bly said the event was designed to appeal to a fresh crowd that aimed to find things not typically seen in standard stores.
"The cool thing about the indie craft fair is that it works so well together as a community, and it works really well when people have completely different styles, so you get to see a lot of things," Bly said.
The folk market is one of many springing up around town. In addition to the market at AvantGarden, Houston is home to the monthly Lone Star Bazaar, the Craftacular market every second Saturday and the Houston Rain Market every fourth Saturday.
"I feel like the creative and independent business communities are really starting to come together to form their own craft markets [in Houston] so you don't have to go to Austin or New Orleans," Martinez said.
The Houston Pop Shop will occur May 11 and 12. For more information about the market, go to houstonholidaypopshop.com.