You’ve probably heard the expression “they don’t make ’em like they used to” at some point, especially from your grandparents. But we’ve got news for you — they do.
The art and skill of making a handcrafted item is something many people think is lost to the ages, but here in Duval, there are many who would disagree with that.
Taryn Nilsen and Sara Flowers are two locals trying to help the makers, artisans and crafters get into the limelight and share their work with the community through what they call, “The Makery,” and the coinciding event dubbed, “The Makers Market.”
“The Makers Market is a curated market where independent makers, designers and creative entrepreneurs along with the local community can gather and inspire one another. It is a fun and lively event with make-and-take workshops, DIY demonstrations and music along with artisanal food and drink. Handmade, reclaimed and vintage items will be featured with a focus on fresh design and exceptional workmanship.”
Sara, whose family has been in Jacksonville since the early ‘60s has lived here all her life, while Taryn moved here after growing up in Boston. Now, the duo is committed to the 904 and hopes their new project will promote existing makers and encourage younger ones to pursue their dreams.
We recently had a little chat with these two inspiring women to get the details on their new brand The Makery and its first Makers Market event to see what it’s all about.
When did you find your passion for handmade objects and handcrafted products?
Taryn: Even as a child, I would disappear for hours at a time to color, draw or paint. As I got older, I would trash pick and inherit old items to refurbish or make entirely new items. I love seeing what I could create from something that would have otherwise been thrown away.
Sara: I was always a crafty kid but when I was pregnant with my first child, I REALLY wanted to make things — call it nesting. I started with quilting and loved it. With the second baby, I learned more about crochet and sewing clothes. It just sort of progressed from there. With every new skill I learn, I appreciate everything handmade even more. I love seeing something that comes from a person’s desire to create. Even if the object isn’t something I love, I really respect the Maker and the creative process.
How did the idea to bring The Makery to life come about? Was it always something you envisioned doing?
Taryn: When I envisioned where and what I would do for a living, I knew I wanted to be able to create on a daily basis and make a living that way. After Sara and I found our mutual love for art and handmade things and she shared her idea for the Market, it just fit. It quickly grew from an idea to an actual event and has evolved into much more than I think either of us really envisioned.
Sara: Coffee with Taryn turned into The Makery in one sitting. The basic idea has been on my mind for years, and it turns out Taryn had been thinking about something similar. Working together has really inspired the both of us and The Makery Market is the result.
Was there someone who inspired you personally?
Taryn: I don’t think that there has been any one person. I think I’m always being inspired by the creative community. When I meet a Maker who has spent endless hours and time to perfect their craft — who makes something that is one-of-a-kind, useful and has their own creative stamp on it — I love it.
Sara: The Makers of the past have definitely inspired me. I am always impressed with their smart use of materials and ingenuity. I think a worn item tells a story and embodies a warm feeling from those who made and used it in years past. I want to make and be surrounded by objects that tell a story about yesterday and today and will continue telling stories in the future.
Why specifically did you guys decide on Jacksonville as your home base?
Sara: We live in Jax and it makes sense. Jacksonville has tons of potential and is bursting at the seams with creative people.
Taryn: What she said.
Is the idea for this (bringing back handcrafted items/products) something you feel strongly about? Why?
Sara: I started buying vintage items when I was setting up my first apartment because they cost less and were made SO much better than the stuff I could buy at a big box store, plus I loved the look. I pretty much refused to buy something new if I could find an older version. Eventually, I started looking for high quality, handmade items that I could invest in because they were quirky, unique, well-made and the money spent would support a living person and their passion. I want The Makery to be a place that makes it easier for everyone to do this, somewhere you can get a great product and impact the life of someone who is going the distance and Making because they love it! I believe we can change our community and the quality of people’s lives by supporting the passions of others.
Taryn: Definitely. I’m aware that it’s difficult, especially in a society that desires everything easy and cheap, to not only go out of your way to access handmade, quality items but to know where to look. I’m guilty of taking the easy route of going to a convenient, large scale store to grab groceries or something simple like soap, but it would be far more valuable to go out of my way and go get produce from a local farm or buy toxin-free, handmade soap made by a local artisan. Our idea is to for The Makery to be that place people can depend on for those local goods and artisanal items all in one place!
What are your hopes for the Makery and the Market to bring to the community of Northeast Florida?
Sara: I want the Market to be a place that celebrates creativity and passion, not just for established Makers but also for aspiring Makers and people who think they can’t make anything. We want people to leave the Market with great items but also feeling inspired and educated. We have workshops and guided Make-and-Take Sessions planned that are going to be a lot of fun for everyone and give people a chance to engage in the Makers Movement in a new way. We have a section just for Junior Makers, the youngest creatives in the area. It is free for them to participate, and they get their own booth and run it the same way the adults do. Hopefully, this will encourage the next generation of Makers and add something special to the event. The Makery is going to be a place to buy, make, and learn.
Taryn: I hope The Makery Market will be an event that the community looks forward too every season. I want people to appreciate the opportunity to learn about what these Makers do and how they do it and, in turn, see the value in supporting them and understand the difference in value of an item that is handmade rather than mass-produced.
What are the details on the event, what can attendees expect? Where can they find more info?
The Makery Market will be an event for everyone. It will have lots of Makers selling their goods, Make-and-Take stations where you can work with a Maker to create something awesome and take it home, informational workshops, a kid area, a toddler area as well as food trucks and Engine 15’s Biergarten.
The first Makery Market takes place on April 29 and 30 between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. at The Glass Factory in downtown Jacksonville. The event is free for all attendees! Find out more information on The Makery by visiting their website here or checking out the event’s page on Facebook here. Also, follow along on Instagram and see what The Makery is up to next.