Freewheeling Craft - Amanda
You do a lot! Explain the brand.
I host craft markets 4+ times a year, popup shops (this is our third, soon to potentially be a permanent spot), and workshops with local makers. I’d love to get into learning, doing business classes for makers and networking for creatives.
When did you first come up with the idea of Freewheeling Craft and how long after that did you open?
I was the sales director at the Tiffany & Co. at the Holt Renfrew when it closed three years ago. It was a tough experience to go through a store closing of such an influential Canadian brand that had been in the city for decades, and I went through a total burnout afterwards. I had a difficult boss there who expected me to put my family second so I made the decision to use my time off to discover how I could work for myself to regain control of my time.
That was May 2015, and in October 2015 I ran my first market, wanting to bring my branding and customer experience knowledge to the local craft scene. The brand has gone through some evolutions... some things have grown, some ideas have been dropped. Now I’m all about growing the community and offering fresh experiences for customers.
What inspired you to bring together the various crafts makers and items curated?
Three words inspire me: Community, Experience and Connections.
It’s as much about community as it is about celebrating creative makers, local culture and quality design. We often use the term Modern Maker- these are makers that are continuously looking to grow, they’re building a brand, and offering high quality products. Many of them, if they could quit their jobs to work their brands they would. They use Social Media, Etsy, websites, local networking. I’m inspired by them, and seeing their drive to grow drives me to execute market experiences at the same high level that they work at. Nothing makes me happier (well, other than my kids lol) than seeing happy shoppers who support local (with their hands filled with bags!), and happy makers because they’ve had a great experience too. It’s all about connecting with the brands, the makers’ stories, makers connecting with shoppers, growing maker friendships (I consider myself a bit of a match-maker when i’m Making a floor plan for the markets, knowing who would have fun next to each other!).
Local is obviously a key element for Freewheeling Craft - what is the farthest distance to one our your partner craft makers place of business?
Vancouver island! We host exclusively Canadian brands in the shop. Local means different things to different people... some people use local to mean made in Canada, some exclusive to their city. Our markets showcase mostly Ottawa and surrounding area (as far as Montreal).
How many craft makers and partners do you have?
Hundreds! I feel so privileged to know so many talented local creatives and to be a part of their story if even just for a moment! I get stopped on the street by spouses of makers to chat. The community is growing so big and I couldn’t be happier.
My partnership with Makerspace North has offered me stability and partnership. After my first ever Market they asked me to be their official craft market partners hosting on a regular basis. I’ve been thankful for my relationship with the women running that space and the awesome tenants.
Were any of those partners instrumental in the launch and success of Freewheeling Craft?
The first 50 makers who participated in my first market back in October 2015! I knew I wanted to execute a market that showcased modern makers, the best Ottawa has to offer. I basically spent three weeks creeping local makers, finding their emails and sending them my pitch about what I wanted to do. I got just enough to host a sold out market- all day shoppers were coming up to me saying how amazing it was! I knew I was on to something, now I’m 12 markets in and still going. Without those first 50 makers, I wouldn’t be here.
What inspires you about Ottawa?
The thing that is the most exciting about the craft scene in Ottawa is that it’s happening sooooo fast! I follow a lot of craft market communities from across the country, and Ottawa was behind those cities about 5 years in how long these markets had been running and also how established the maker brands were. There are so many incredible maker brands popping up all the time, and they are hitting the ground running with quality product, on-point branding and great craft market setups. Ottawa is quickly catching up to the quantity of maker brands and it’s so fun to be a part of that.
When you aren't hosting workshops and selling amazing Canadian made goods, what do you do for fun?
Are you ready for this list?! Just like in the biz, I barely sit still. Hockey mom, I love being at the rink. My kids are also into football, swimming, brownies, golf... I love it so much though. We go to the beach a lot in the summer, we bought a mini sailboat. I was getting back into yoga before I broke my ankle this past Winter. I snowboard and we hit the outdoor rinks a lot too. Try to get out to concerts but never get to as many as I want to. We have been vacationing in Costa Rica the past few years but may try something new next year! I just signed up to take archery lessons with the Kanata Archery Club. My daughter and I try to bake something new every 2-3 weeks. Is that enough? Lol
Is there something that is missing from Freewheeling Craft that you think would sell really well?
I look outside of the Ottawa maker community for products that no one here is making (yet). I have incredible cement planters coming in from Toronto, potentially some beautiful leather from Montreal, some goods from Tofino and the west coast. I’m always looking for good design and brands with great stories.
I hear there was some amazing doughnuts at a "doughnut pop-up" hosted recently. We missed it! How delicious were they?
I didn’t even get one!!! They sold out in 40 minutes, Annie from Doughbaby Doughnuts and I simply couldn’t believe it. We’re going to be hosting her regularly now so that people can get their doughnut fix. Look out for our summer schedule of when you can catch Annie in the shop!
Who is your favourite Canadian celebrity that you wish would stop by Freewheeling craft?
I mean, if either of the Ryans walked in to my biz, I wouldn’t be sad about that.
So Mother's Day is coming up! I usually shop last minute. What is Freewheeling up to that might make my life a little easier?
We’re hosting Terra Velta in the shop May 11-13 for a pot your own gift event. We’ll have pots from local pottery brands and some new cement planters from a Toronto brand (Homebody Collective makes amazing coloured cement pieces like pineapple planters, skull planters and avocado dishes among others). We also have our jewelry selection, natural skincare, art and home goods, diy kits. We also gift box. You can also buy her a workshop to take. We got you covered for Mother’s Day!