The Maker Sessions, Series 2

Session #1: Brick and Mortar Retail vs. Online Sales

Crafty Mart is excited to announce that we're extending our efforts to help nurture and develop our local maker community. That's what the MAKER SESSIONS are all about. With the assistance of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, we have put together a second series of five panel discussions designed specifically for artists and makers to address some of your business needs. Want to know how to better turn your efforts into a sustainable income? This is for you.

The first in our second series of Maker Sessions is fast approaching! It will take place this Thursday, January 19th at the Akron Art Museum, where a panel of experts and people who have been there, done that will discuss the opportunities and the challenges of both traditional brick and mortar retail storefronts and navigating the online sales marketplace.

Meet our panel!

A long time worker in the independent retail world, Juniper Sage started Square Records with 2 business partners/friends. We have been operating for 13+ years, watching competitors come and go. While not involved in the retail operation anymore, Juniper maintains the finances of the shop and works the busiest days of the year, where as many as 100 people have lined up outside the shop to get exclusive merchandise. For her 'day' job, she is the Customer Support Manager for a local technology firm for over 4 years.


April Couch is the owner of Totally Tangled Designs, where she uses the technique of Zentangle to create drawings to create unique works of art. She recently moved her studio and storefront to Summit Artspace, where she is supports and is supported by a strong artist community.


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Joel A. Testa is the President and COO of The Testa Companies, which are made up of seven corporations that handle every facet of the real estate and construction industry. From design, development and construction to sales, management and building maintenance. Testa has recently created unique opportunities for retail in Akron that is more accessible than traditional options.

April Bleakney officially took the plunge with her company, APE MADE, in 2011 after struggling through the recession, and hasn't looked back.  A Cleveland-based one-woman hand screen printing operation, APE MADE's line showcases our city and region with local themes, featuring original designs on quality handmade goods (clothing and beyond). April has made over 2,000 sales on her Etsy site alone, and will share her experience navigating online retail as well as her experience opening up her live/work space as a pop up retail space.


Fashion artist Andrea Howell designs clothing for her label Tidal Cool, pulling inspiration from global prints, funky patterns, and bold colors. Fine tailoring finishes each piece with precision and separates her from the fast fashion field. With a boutique in the heart of Tremont, Howell's workspace is in the Hildebrandt Artist Collective in Ohio City. She is part of a retail incubator program supported by the Tremont West Development Corporation.


Introducing our guests will be Christine Vadala. She is the Director of Business Development at the Downtown Akron Partnership, who is charged with their "pop up retail" initiative. The ultimate goal of the program is to enhance the vibrancy of downtown by activating storefront space and continuing Downtown Akron’s growth as a destination for retail. The Pop-up Project matches tenants looking to launch their business with downtown property owners who have first floor storefront space available for occupancy.


What do you get for your money and attendance? There will be a knowledgeable panel discussion including audience Q&A, catered food, as well as food and drink for purchase at the Art Museum's Q Cafe, and networking opportunities with fellow artists and makers along with free admission to the Art Museum's exhibits and galleries.

Whether your ambition is towards a hobby that pays for itself, a professional operation that is your livelihood--or something in between--these Maker Sessions will give you practical and usable tools to help you protect, produce, and thrive. Learning while you enjoy a libation, some local culinary delights, and of course great company – what could be better? And, make sure to bring your questions!

Get your ticket for Thursday's Maker Session here or attend all 5 sessions at a discounted price!