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Magazine

OPEN | Digital and Boots-on-the-Ground Retail Makers Open to Collaboration Benefit from Connection

OPEN | Digital and Boots-on-the-Ground Retail Makers Open to Collaboration Benefit from Connection

"New York Maker" wood pennant made by Bold Version Design

We need connection to fellow humans as much as we need food, water, and fresh air. Like heliotropic plants, we grow toward other people. One recent study showed that lack of human connection was more dangerous for your health than obesity, smoking, or high blood pressure, and that conversely, togetherness leads to a 50% increase in longevity. We need other people, like the sunshine.

Community pot luck organized and hosted by The Beekman Boys and House of Brinson in Campbell Hall, NY, October 2017.

In some ways, the online space makes it both easier and harder to do just that. You don’t have to look further than down the street, or (if you’re like we are) into your own den, to recognize that people are living much of life online. The average American spends almost 24 hours a week online now, up from 9.4 hours in 2000. About 84% of Americans have a smartphone, compared to just 23% in 2010, according to a study from MIT reported in January of 2018.

Shopping habits reflect that: online retail sales crossed $453 billion in 2017 in the U.S., a spike of 16% from 2016, the U.S. Commerce Department reports. That means that 13% of all purchases in the country are made online.

New York Makers embraces the new commercial reality and provides an opportunity for artists and makers across the state to connect through its online Marketplace and Magazine to reach a broader base of customers and to be part of a network through which they could become stronger and more engaged together -- the human dimension. As our marketplace director Audra Herman puts it, “No one can go it alone.”

A custom New York Makers pennant designed by Oxford Pennant.

Curating dozens of well-regarded businesses and placing their wares for sale online is lovely, but how does that encourage actual connection for the makers with each other, you ask?

That’s where the collective knowledge and hands-on work of New York Makers team makes some magic. It spends hours talking to makers, often introducing artists whom New York Makers thinks should know each other.

New York Makers “pop ups” also help build important connections among its makers. Two recent maker fairs include the Sharon Springs Harvest Festival hosted by the Beekman Boys and the eponymous Grand Central Holiday Fair located in Grand Central Station in the heart of New York City.

During the New York Makers Market at Garden Party Festival in Sharon Springs May 2018, Garrett of The Birch Boys shows Sarah of Workday Wear how to start a fire (left) and Brigid of les collines puts her "I Love Local Farmers" tote to good use at Harvest Festival in Sharon Springs September 2018 (right).

At the 2018 Sharon Springs Harvest Festival, thrown by the (shall we say it? of course!) fabulous, Beekman Boys (a.k.a. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmel-Purcell), New York Makers sponsored a “village” of its makers. Not only was this an opportunity for thousands of Harvest Festival attendees to discover our makers, but also was a  chance for our makers to meet each other face to face. They had the chance to put names with faces, shake hands, and cement connections that have resulted in collaboration, materials sourcing, and shared information.

The New York Makers pop up shop at the Grand Central Holiday Fair 2018, which brought together over 20 makers' goods from across the state.

More recently, through New York Makers, over 20 artisans from Buffalo to Westchester got huge play in the New York City market as part of New York Makers’ pop up shop at Grand Central Terminal’s Annual Holiday Fair. Some makers made the trek to see which products were resonating with holiday shoppers and to strengthen their connection with the New York Makers’ collective.

Because of our online community, and our recent forays into on-the-ground events, our makers have started sharing artist spaces with each other, selling each other’s work from each other’s galleries located in different parts of the state, swapping supply contacts and teaming up on collaborations and exhibits.

Janet McKeon of Davis Studio outside of their Chatham studio and showroom (left) and our "Make <3" Mug" we designed with Davis Studio (right). You can purchase it here.

This is how New York Makers is trying to bridge the digital/human connection divide.  

Stay tuned to learn about more opportunities to come and meet our makers in person. Find time to log off, go forth, be open, and connect!