When a group of local artisans found themselves priced out of the holiday-market scene, they went their own way. The result was the Witch Collective, a group of artists and artisans committed to creating an affordable place where people can sell affordable handmade goods. From noon to 4 p.m. this Saturday, November 12, at the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms, the Witch Collective will welcome shoppers to the Aries Moon Autumnal Market, a small-scale, friendly alternative to the big guys, and a great place to find handmade tinctures, tonics, jewelry and one-of-a-kind prints and paintings.
Each themed Witch Collective market donates 10 percent of its proceeds to an organization or nonprofit; this time around, the money will go to the defenders of the Standing Rock Sacred Stone Camp and the Four Winds American Indian Council. In advance of tomorrow's market, Westword spoke with Katy Zimmerman, one of the artists behind the Witch Collective, to find out more about how and why they do what they do.
Westword: How and why did Witch Collective come together?
Katy Zimmerman: We were unhappy with the existing market scene — we felt like it wasn't really accessible to a lot of people that we know who make things. It's hard to make booth fees back at bigger markets. I didn't know until I started applying at these larger markets just how much it costs artists. It's not really something that's out in the open. For the bigger markets, I kind of understand why they have those fees — they have to rent the space for the market to take place. Yet I still feel like they are making so much money off of the vendors and artists.
For our markets, we based off of a previous model my Witch Collective partner Zoe Williams was working on, We find spaces that will rent to us for free or a low price. Then we charge vendors a ten-dollar fee so we can advertise properly, but we don't really want to go over that amount. Then all vendors and artists donate 10 percent of their profits to a nonprofit or charity that we choose.
For each market, how do you choose the nonprofits that you donate to?
It depends on what is going on at that time; we like to work with local organizations when we can, because that's the best way to give back to our community. Our last market at the Mercury Cafe benefited VORP, the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program. This market, we will be donating to the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, because they obviously need all the help they can get. It just depends on who we think really needs help at the moment, or maybe if it's a new local organization we just found out about and want to support it, we will donate to them.
We want to be a part of the community we're in. We don't just want to be an addition to it, we want to integrate into the community. We want to give back and help build and foster a sense of community across the board. That's important to us.
How are the vendors and artists who end up being a part of Witch Collective markets chosen?
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We've been approaching people who we feel would be a good fit; we definitely want vendors who are community-oriented and want to give back. We want to work with people who hand-make their own products. We also want to work with and make a space for women, women of color, and folks in the LGBTQ community. We're such a small market right now that we can't open it up to applications at this point, so we just reach out to people that we know and think would be a good fit. This time around, we'll have jewelry makers and a few herbalists; we have a woman who embroiders jewelry and wall hangings. One of our Witch Collective members is a printmaker who makes cards and handmade paper; I'll be selling my prints as well.
Who is the Witch Collective?
There are four members of the Witch Collective: myself; Zoe Williams, who makes tinctures, salves and seasonal products; embroiderer Stephanie Tierney and Marc Addison-Brown, our newest member, who is a printmaker. We started Witch Collective as a sort of a way to apply for the bigger markets; we would share a booth and work on different projects together and sell our own products together in one booth. The four of us would pitch in on a booth so we could afford to take part in the larger markets; we participated in a few of the bigger markets over the summer before we started on our own market.
I should probably note that we aren't all practicing witches. [She laughs.] I know it is kind of a vague term, but we all have our own things that we do practice on our own. I just think the word "witch" is kind of a powerful thing to identify as.
Witch Collective's Aries Moon Autumnal Market casts its spell from noon to 4 p.m. this Saturday, November 12 , at the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms. For more information on the market and the artisans participating, visit the Facebook event page.