Vintage and Made Fair
May 28, 2016
After being filled carefully with clothes, shoes, and books, the tan suitcase was lugged from car to conveyor belt for the owner’s first trip to New York. In another time and place, the rotating chair of someone’s craft room spins gently as a canvas is calmly stroked with blue acrylic paint; the brush slowly creating the artist’s vision. Elsewhere, a green 60’s style floral dress was buttoned to the top, just below a row of pears picked out for a decadent dinner with the family. These are possible histories of pieces on display at the Vintage and Made Fair, for the people of Des Moines to find and begin their own stories with.
On May 14th and 15th, Jordan Camp was splattered with tents and campers that had been thoughtfully prepared by 88 vendors from mostly the midwest. The outdoor fair sells “Home décor, jewelry, handcrafted goods, outdoor accents, seasonal flora, local eats and everything needed to create a vintage and handmade lifestyle,” according to vintageandmadefair.com. The event has grown rapidly since its debut in 2014, fulfilling creator Tricia Hall’s goal to “empower the creative community.”
Lions Maine Vintage brought a plethora of clothing displayed on racks in front of their vibrant orange camper parked under a yellow umbrella. Their first time selling from the camper and their first time in Des Moines, the owner Rachel Rost sat smiling with her husband on fold out chairs as their dog sat between them. After three and a half years of running a store in Omaha, they took to the road and began partnering with stores, restaurants, and markets. “I love fashion,” Rost explained. I have an artistic eye and I feel like I get to use my creativity not only in curating the items but merchandising and styling, and meeting people that like the same stuff I do.” She has accomplished this in her stationary and mobile store, as well as online since 2012.
“I’ve loved vintage clothes forever, ever since I was playing dress up as a child. Eventually my dress up closet became my actual closet,” Rost shared. She shared her love for the individuality of vintage, stating, “If you buy something vintage chances are no one else is ever going to have it.” She feels that this is a better option than buying the new clothes that are inspired by past generations. Selling has also helped her build relationships. “I find that a lot of people that like vintage clothing like I do, we are similar.”
Fellow vintage clothing vendor Nicole Laurenson commented, “I think the main reason why I sell vintage is because it’s sustainable and it’s something that already exists and it’s essentially recycling.” She also hypothesized, “I think fashion is a way to wear art.” She has been collecting since 2003, and started selling vintage in 2010, then opened a store named Preservation in the East Village last year.
About the fair, Laurenson shared, “I like the variety of vendors, I like that it’s outdoors, and also that there is food and music.” Upon entering the campground, shoppers were greeted with a line of food trucks and stands. Ice cream, tacos, pizza, cafe, sandwiches, and more were in the hands of the attendees as they traveled amongst the tents. In an open space, rows of bench seating were lined in front of a stage, decorated with plants and vintage and craft items. 9 artists took a seat under the fabric banner over the course of the weekend.
Pickin Preacher was overflowing with antique furniture and tools, and the owner Justin Weber sat amongst it all, wiping the dirt from a vintage window. “Now here’s a window that’s 129 years old,” he acknowledged. “It’s going to go to someone else’s house, and someone’s going to enjoy it in that house for another 20,30,40 years. It kind of lives on.” Weber is from Abura Iowa, and lived in a farm in Western Kansas where he began to find interest in old, unique items. His store doesn’t have a permanent location but moves around doing many shows. “I’ve always tried to preserve the past and i like people so it works out pretty [well],” he explained. “people are really friendly and kind,” he concluded regarding his first show in Des Moines. “The people that have organized it did a really nice job.”
Julie Manson stood smiling amongst homemade bath bombs and soaps in her tent with a sign reading “Pure Grace Soap.” She makes everything she sells, with the help of her part time team and her daughter who inspired the business. “She asked if we could be part of our local farmer’s market,” Manson noted, “I thought it would give her the ability to learn a lot of life lessons she wouldn’t get from a book, like how to market, start a business, open a checking account, and talk to people.” and after a year, they noticed the success and decided to continue selling. “This gives me the ability to get my artistic talents out there and be creative in the way the soaps look and then the colors that I choose and scent combinations,” she informed. In two months, she will open a store called Venus and Vine, which will carry her soaps, as well as succulents, jewelry, ceramics, and hand crafted items.