A market like no other, First Pick Handmade, September 14th and 15th at Vancouver's Heritage Hall, features a bevvy of vendors whose wares are not just locally made, but handmade. We chatted with organizer Janna Hurtzig ahead of this fall's event, and found out what she's put on her First Pick Handmade shopping list! —Noa Nichol
Hi Janna! Tell us about First Pick Handmade.
First Pick Handmade began Fall of 2017 as an answer to a gap I saw in the marketplace for a handmade fashion event. As a designer myself (Winterluxe Recycled Cashmere), I found Vancouver needed something earlier in the season, when people are starting to shop for their wardrobes. Initially I thought we’d just do it every fall, but the first one was so popular, we added a spring one right away, and have been going strong ever since. In bringing only fashion-related designers together, we are able to make it easy for customers to shop local and handmade for their entire wardrobe: they can compare items and put outfits together, just like at a department store, but with the designer on hand to answer any fit or care questions.
What's your goal with this market?
My aim with First Pick Handmade is twofold: first, to create a venue for designers to meet with their existing clients and show their lines en masse, so customers can shop all their favourite companies under one roof. Together is better, and our designers are big fans of one another, so it’s also a great opportunity for us to get out of the studio and share what we’ve been working on with our peers. Secondly, we have a huge number of fashion, jewelry, accessories and the like being made here in Vancouver, but many people are still really unaware of what is actually made here, so we aim to make it easy to discover new brands and to support local companies, especially for people who doesn’t have a lot of time to search out brands on their own. By spending our money on local fashion, we keep our money in the community and get to look good doing it. Keeping designers working on their own brands means we also keep those skill sets in the community too. What could be more amazing than a pair of boots made start to finish by the same set of hands, or custom fit denim? That’s something worth supporting.
Why is a market like First Pick Handmade important/relevant today?
More and more customers are looking for more sustainable choices all across the board, but people are also busy. People are looking to reduce their ecological footprint, but may not know where to start. Shopping online often ends in frustration, as sizing, and even colours can be difficult to tell. They want something real, something meaningful. We offer a unique experience: people know if they come to First Pick Handmade, we’ve already curated a collection of Canadian-made, high-quality, slow fashion for them. These are purchases people can feel good about making. Most items are limited run, or even made to order, so there’s less waste. They know if it fits because they can try it on, so it won’t just be tucked away after a single wear. Our venue is open and airy, so it’s a stress-free shopping experience, how shopping should be. Our market has also created quite a community among our vendors, so if one person doesn’t have something, they can usually point customers in the right direction. Community over competition really rules the show, it’s really quite a special thing to be part of.
How many designers will be at this year's market? Can you highlight some to watch for?
Our fall market features 32 designers, including 13 clothing brands, with everything from handmade shoes, clothing for men and women, skin care, accessories, activewear, jewelry, bags and wallets. We have a little bit of everything. I would say for him: Westerly Shoes, Kolton Babych Fine Jewelry, Anián Manufacturing and Element Botanicals. For her: Daub + Design, Bukuro Bag Co, Serenity West and zed handmade.
And what will we see in YOUR First Pick Handmade (reusable) shopping bag?
I have my eye on a dress from kate&frances, a restock of the oil moisturizer from Conscious Care, wool socks from XS Unified and one of Elen Danielle’s beautiful brooches … to go with all my other First Pick items from past seasons. I pretty much only buy things from our show, we have everything I need!