I never considered myself "creative". Growing up, I would breeze through math and science, solving problems and understanding theories (my Asian brain in its "happy place"), but would stare at a blank piece of paper or canvas waiting for the "answer" to appear. I didn't understand how someone could take an idea or draw on inspiration to create something so beautiful for the world to see. I have always admired this gift and hoped that (one day) I would learn how. And then I met Pam Morales!
I first ran into Pam Morales at the recent YYCFoodTruck Summer Frenzy in the East Village. I was immediately intrigued by her beautiful Crafted Artisan Truck, which was also welcome shade on such a hot summer day! I couldn't help but admire all of the artfully crafted items displayed on the shelves, including jewelry, candles, leather goods, kid's clothing and accessories, all hand made by local artists and designers. It was like a mini, mobile Market Collective! But Crafted is much more than just artisan goods on wheels ... it's a testament to Pam's ingenuity and adaptability during today's changing economy.
A Lesson in Adaptability
Many local artisans start out pursuing their craft during the hours away from their full time jobs. The same was true with Pam Morales. Although she enjoyed her career in television and broadcasting, as a designer and graphic artist, she took up crochet around the time her first daughter was born. Self-taught, she uncovered an innate passion for making unique dolls and fun creatures ... and Bubblegum Belles came to be!
Over the years she participated in local vendor shows and craft fairs, meeting other vendors and artisans, and realized the potential to do more than just sell a few toys or digital patterns on Etsy. She enjoyed the community and camaraderie and knew this was something to look into for the future. She just didn't realize it would be something to take seriously until a drastic change in the broadcasting industry in 2012 threatened her long-standing career. In the winter of 2014, these threats became a reality as many of her colleagues lost their jobs at CTV ... and she was next to go.
Laser focused and ready to take on a new challenge, she spent the next five months creating a business model, raising capital to get started, designing her brand, acquiring a truck and securing vendors to launch her new business ... the Crafted Artisan Truck.
The Crafted Artisan Truck
The Crafted Artisan Truck is dedicated to supporting the artisan community and bringing their handmade goods to people throughout the city. She handpicked over 30 vendors (i.e., Adrian Martinus, Anne Tranholm, Becky Warren Design, Friday Sock Co., Heather Plewes, Jennea Frischke, Majesty Industries, Mug's Emporium, Piggy and Bear, The Populess Co., Salt Water Tea, and Teepee Tots & Co.), to stock the shelves of her mobile store, showcasing various goods including:
- Jewelry and accessories
- Leather goods
- Kid's clothing and toys
- Women's apparel
- Home decor
- Bath and body products
- Cards and prints
Although this is just her first season, the Crafted Artisan Truck is scheduled to attend festivals, community events and craft markets from April until October each year. During the winter months, when most mobile vendor trucks are parked for the season, you can still get the goods found on the Crafted Artisan Truck inside the Calgary Farmer's Market!
Crafted Goods at Calgary Farmer's Market
Pam Morales, whether she realizes it or not, has a nose for business. Knowing that she would be limited to only six months selling on the truck each year she had to find an alternate location to give her artisans a place to showcase their goods. Although leasing a location was not in the budget, the Calgary Farmer's Market was in her sights. Not expecting to be considered until 2016, she got the call and secured a location in August of this year (just four months after she started the Crafted Artisan Truck)!
The Calgary Farmer's Market, located just off Blackfoot Trail and Heritage Drive, is open year round from Thursday to Sunday (9:00am to 5:00pm). Her permanent location features all Alberta handmade goods and captures the intrigue of regulars that frequent the market for their weekly supply of organic produce, baked goods, butchered meats and ready-made meals (fresh or frozen). In the few weeks Crafted has been open at this location she has been overwhelmed with the response and is incredibly grateful for the help and assistance she's received from the artisans who are also helping to manage the space!
With her first season (almost) under her belt she is looking at settling into the indoor space four days a week and then using the the other days to focus on the area of this business that she is most passionate (and excited) about ... the Make + Mingle workshops!
Make + Mingle Workshops
Starting up this new business provided Pam with insight into the lives of other artisans and craftsmen. Being an artisan herself, meeting and working with others in this community validated one thing that she was interested in doing ... teaching her craft to others. Many of the other artisans she had connected with were also interested in workshops and guiding others through the process of creation, imparting knowledge and providing guidance so participants could make something on their own.
Starting in August, Crafted began organizing workshops, led by real life artisans, at Loft 112 (a commercial space and loft apartment in Calgary’s East Village that serves as a centre for writers and artists of all kinds from the Calgary literary, arts and academic community). Upcoming workshops include:
- Beginners' Sewing
- Intro to Modern Calligraphy
- Creative Malas
- Pressed Flower Art
- Hand Embroidery
- Knitting 101
- Bottle Brush Treescapes
- Festive Garlands
Workshops range from two to three hours in length and the cost includes all supplies, light refreshments and snacks, and goodies to take home.
Of all the exciting things that have filled Pam Morales' days the last six months, the Make + Mingle workshops are clearly her passion. Her dedication to giving back to artisans and helping others find their creative voice makes the long days and sore muscles (from lugging boxes and crates in and out of the truck each day) well worth it! I'm excited to see what more this incredible woman has in store for Calgarians in support of buying handmade and local.
In the meantime, the Make + Mingle workshops are definitely on my list as I am looking to tap into my "creative side" by learning from the best the city has to offer. I can't wait to get messy at Loft 112!
If you'd like to see more images from the Crafted Artisan Truck and the Crafted store at the Calgary Farmer's Market you can find it on our social media using the icons at the top of the page.
(This post was originally published on www.sixfootcanasian.com on September 6, 2015)