By Tessa Raebeck
Artisans and creative vendors from across the South Fork will share their crafts, food and ideas at the annual holiday bazaar Homegrown for the Holidays, this Saturday, December 6, at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton. Handmade and custom goods like beach glass jewelry, custom knit hats and ocean inspired pillows will fill dozens of booths.
A fitting follow-up to Small Business Saturday last weekend, Hayground found this year’s vendors through farmers markets held in the summer, its ranks of creative alumni, students and parents, and another local network—artisans who quickly spread the word whenever there’s an opportunity to share their creations.
“The local artisan community is very broad, yet tight-knit,” said Kerri Deuel of Sag Harbor, a Hayground parent and event organizer who reached out to many of this year’s participants.
Over 30 vendors will be in attendance, ranging from 9-year-old Sam and her big sister, Madeline, both Hayground students, to Yu Lu-Bouvier, who is now retired, but began her business, Luluknits, on the train during her daily commute between Westhampton Beach and New York City.
Ms. Lu-Bouvier, who began knitting with her grandmother as a young child, now sells handmade sweaters and custom hats for babies and children.
“I like those art events because people are so crazy, you always get new ideas and people are so proud of their products,” Ms. Lu-Bouvier said, adding the bazaar and other markets at Hayground are “not like Macy’s [where] the sales person knows nothing about the product—the way to use it, how it comes [as a] specialty—no one knows everything, but in a farmers market, people can give [customers] stories about what they made.”
Mary Jaffe, who has been making pottery on the East End for 35 years, enjoys shows because of the opportunity to teach others about the creative process behind her bowls, vases, platters and other “functional ware.”
“Once the community is involved, they spread the word and it grows very organically,” said Ms. Deuel, adding there will be a “great mix” of new items and favorites from years past.
Madeline, 12, and Sam, 9, started their Etsy store, Ketsy Knits, in August. Sam makes hand-beaded jewelry and Madeline knits colorful hats, scarves and other warm clothes. The girls sell what they make online and give half their proceeds to charitable organizations supporting children in Haiti, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
“Everything is made by the two of us, and we knit/make every piece with love,” said Madeline, who has been knitting since she was 8 and was making hats for premature babies in neonatal intensive care units by 9. Sam learned to make jewelry at Hayground, in an after school program led by alumnus Ella Engel-Snow.
“There are a lot of amazing local artists, and one of the reasons we wanted to participate in the bazaar was because of all the incredible work we saw last year,” Madeline said of she and her sister.
Children who won’t be making sales at the holiday bazaar can enjoy face painting, crafts tables and seeing firsthand how vendors’ childhood hobbies have expanded into impassioned business ventures.
Carol O’Connor started collecting beach glass as a teenager, and now combines beads and beach glass for leather bracelets, beach glass chokers and other “one-of-a-kind pieces that just pop into my head,” she said. The “Designs by the Sea” owner teaches classes on her craft at Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton and sells pieces at local yoga studios Ananda and Good Ground and the Sunrise to Sunset and Flying Point surf shops.
Also inspired by childhood walks exploring the woods searching for “treasures to turn into art pieces or jewelry,” Shelter Island resident Mimi Page will show her self-named jewelry line.
“For as long as I can remember, I have been a ‘gatherer’ type of artist,” said Ms. Page, who has explored various forms, including weaving, ceramics and printmaking, and now makes unique jewelry using sterling silver bezel pendants, stones, pieces of tile, sea glass and “whatever I find interesting,” she said.
“The people who live on the East End of Long Island are unique in that they are drawn to a lifestyle that is more community-centered to begin with, so it’s just in their nature to support the local, homegrown businesses,” said Ms. Page, who added she would rather go cage-diving with sharks in Montauk than anywhere near an outlet center this time of year.
When they support small businesses, added Ms. Page, shoppers are “directly helping someone in your community live their dream and follow their passion.”
There will be plenty of local food on hand, including Lorna’s Nuts, owned by Lorna and Walter Cook of East Hampton, who have doubled their business in the past year and expanded from three flavors to 14 since starting in 2012. Former Hayground parent Anastasia Karloutsos will serve her Old School Favorites, “simple and delicious” chocolate sauce and nuts covered in maple.
“Really, it is these small shows, speaking with customers, getting to know other vendors that really gets your product out there,” she said. “If you have one enthusiastic person at your booth that person can bring over so many others. The people who want to support and buy local are so very important to our small business.”
“We are very fortunate to live and work on the East End,” added Deborah Lukasik, who founded Southampton Soap Co. with partner Chris O’Shaughnessy. “Local artisans all network and cross promote one another’s brands and products. Everyone thinks about who might be a good contact for someone—I love that.”
Homegrown for the Holidays is Saturday, December 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hayground School, 151 Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton. For more information or to become a vendor, contact Kerri Deuel at email@example.com.