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    Categories: Business

Show features locally handcrafted gifts

GEEK CHIC – Morinville-based apparel business Hot Dame teamed up with pop culture artist Katelyne Dewald to create unique dresses

From wild mushrooms to traditional wooden toys to geek chic apparel, local entrepreneurs do it all.

And they’ll be showing off their wares at the second annual Indie Handmade show this weekend, along with a hundred other artists, artisans, designers and foodies.

In its second year, the show features a wide range of exhibitors from across the country, including more than 40 Edmonton-region vendors.

Chelsea Dewald, of Morinville, is one such vendor. She began her graphic leggings business, Hot Dame, with her sister Jenny Rota in 2014.

Unhappy with the way store-bought leggings fit, the pair decided to design their own. What started out as a personal project soon grew into a full-fledged business, as friends and family responded positively to the finished product.

“We were so happy with the fit and were showing them to friends and family and they were loving them, so we thought maybe this was something others may want to have too,” said Dewald.

Now the sisters have expanded into skirts, dresses, bamboo shirts, kids apparel and, more recently, kimonos, using Dewald’s husband’s dye-sublimation machine to print funky patterns on their polyester-spandex blend apparel.

“It didn’t seem that that would ever happen, that I would potentially ever be designing my own clothes,” said Dewald. “It’s really rewarding. I love to show off my creative side.”

Dewald, who always dreamed of being a fashion designer, creates many of the graphics. The sisters also love to partner with Canadian artists, photographers and tattoo designers – such as sister-in-law and Morinville-based pop culture artist Katelyne Dewald (who also has a booth at Indie Handmade) – turning their creations into unique pieces of wearable art.

“A lot of people can’t always put new things on their wall, so why not wear it?” said Dewald, who sells a Kay Pop-designed Hogwarts dress a day.

The Kay Pop collection also features Hobbit, Star Wars and Adventure Time themes.

Toy designer Jennifer Wilde has a similar if-you-can’t-find-it-make-it story.

Since taking infant development classes in university, Wilde became interested in the concept of play and what makes a good toy. The Morinville mom found that major toy and baby stores didn’t really sell anything that fit the bill, so she started making toys for her newborn son.

“Children learn through play, and play is best supported by toys that are open ended, or need to be interacted with by the child,” explains Wilde. “If the toy just entertains, or does most of the doing, then the child isn’t learning much more than how to push buttons.”

Her toys are handcrafted using wood or textiles and are intentionally designed to help spur creativity and develop both motor and cognitive skills.

Other local creators include, 559 Toys, Lovin Each Stitch, Mad Love Design, Blue Kettle Special Foods, Bonbon’s Treasure, Shilo Glass, Snowflakes by Mary A, Souptacular Soup Company, Untamed Feast, Prairie Spirit Alpacas and WilliamRae Designs.

While the Indie Handmade show features many local creators and entrepreneurs, it also boasts artists from five provinces and one territory.

Etienne Dale of Signatures Shows, the company that puts on Indie Handmade, says the appetite for Canadian-crafted handmade products is ever increasing in Alberta.

Signatures is also behind the Butterdome Craft Sale (Dec. 1-4) and the Touch of Talent Craft Sale in Sherwood Park. Last year’s inaugural Indie Handmade show was part of a record-breaking fall season. Not only did 25,000 customers show up over the four days, but the majority of exhibitors also reported boosts in sales.

“We’re seeing a big shift towards buying local in areas like Edmonton especially,” said Dale. “I think it comes down to a preference towards knowing where your money goes.”

Building on last year’s success the St. Albert show is being expanded to add a fourth day. The event will also be licensed on Thursday and Friday evenings. Visitors can enjoy craft beer and cocktails as they shop.

The Indie Handmade show will take place at the Enjoy Centre Nov. 24 to 27. See indiehandmade.ca/fall for details.

Michelle Ferguson: