Offering everything from jewelry to sailboats, Hand-Made In RVA’s pop-up markets give Richmond’s POC and LGBTQ creators a chance to find their audience.
From a young age Andrea Daughtry had an entrepreneurial spirit with a quirky, artsy style.
Now as a maker and vintage collector, Daughtry has made a space for other people of color in Richmond to showcase their trade. Since October 2018, Daughtry, along with her partners Duron Chavis, Baron Lee, and Natasha Wilson, has been hosting Hand-Made in RVA — a market and safe space for POC and the LGBTQ community.
“I just want Richmond to see how creative our local makers are,” Daughtry said. “It makes my heart flutter because I know what it means to be up all night creating and trying to release. It is a way that we communicate, a way that we are able to express ourselves.”
Daughtry, who has been a maker for the past seven years creating handmade jewelry as well as Buttah Babez, her all-natural skin care line, understands both sides of operating a market. What makes Hand-Made in RVA a stand out, however, is the openness and inclusivity that she embraces. Although vendors are required to apply to the market, all vendors are accepted as long as space is available.
Hand-Made in RVA has garnered a huge response through social media, but the emphasis remains on keeping the market as inclusive as possible.
“I feel like that’s honestly been one of the barriers and a way to exclude people in the past,” Daughtry said about the vendor application process for markets. “The application is great, but it also creates negative connotation and nervousness. We accept anybody.”
Katrina Blizzard is a local maker who has been participating in Hand-Made in RVA since its inception in October. Through selling her Luving Me Naturally handcrafted natural body care products at the Hand-Made in RVA markets, she’s noticed and appreciated the community it has built thus far. Being new in the game with hand-crafted products was a plus, she said, and benefited from being connected through the market.
A supportive, warm, and fun community is how Blizzard described what she found as a Hand-Made in RVA vendor. People who buy her products like to come to the market to see what else she has to offer, she said.
“They can touch it, they can smell it, they can feel it. It allows them to have a place to come to,” Blizzard said. “People are really embracing handcrafted.”
When Daughtry got into vintage, she also noticed how interacting with her customers allowed her business to flourish. A few years ago, Daughtry began selling her quirky vintage finds to Virginia State University students, and gained a following doing so.
At a pop-up table, students would stop by to purchase Daughtry’s one-of-a kind vintage pieces. She even had regulars who would come looking for their newest fashion find.
“They were crazy about it,” Daughtry said.” I was able to get my first car, my first apartment. It was nuts.”
Despite the success of her business, Daughtry also noted the importance of storytelling as a part of her interest in vintage. She often wears a stack of brass and copper bangle bracelets that once belonged to her mother.
“It makes me feel complete,” she said. “It’s started a lot of conversations for me.”
Daughtry has studied time periods when fashion differed, which in turn has informed the creativity of her own handmade jewelry. With leftover pieces of vintage jewelry, Daughtry plans to create new jewelry or canvases to display the jewelry pieces as art.
Although Daughtry still often pops up shop at her Hand-Made in RVA markets, she noted the great diversity of products that have been featured thus far. Customized notebooks, candles, handmade bags, oils, herbs, henna, and even sailboats top the list.
“It means a lot,” Daughtry said. “I found that we are getting farther and farther away from corporate and we’re appreciating the individuals in our community that nine times out of ten have better products — that are just as effective.”
Through the variety and quality of the products, both Daughtry and Blizzard have watched the market grow organically. Growing from fewer than 10 vendors to a now-bustling market of 25 vendors, Hand-Made in RVA outgrew its original home.
Now hosted at Gather, a coworking and office space in downtown Richmond, Hand-Made in RVA has the space to flourish.
“I didn’t realize until I started doing vending events how popular it was and there are so many people that actually do this,” Blizzard said. “Some people don’t give Richmond enough credit that people will come out and support. Hopefully in having more of these events people will start to come out even more than they have.”
Hand-Made in RVA’s upcoming Spring Fling market,taking place on March 17 at Gather from 1-6 PM, will be focused on spring-cleaning things that we don’t talk about often, such as financial literacy and health. And, to keep the International Women’s Celebration alive, Hand-Made in RVA will also be hosting For the Fem in You — A Celebration of Women at Studio Two Three on April 7.
Daughtry’s Fem market will honor women in the Richmond community who are not typically recognized, such as doulas and performing artists — people who are really laboring, or not getting the attention they deserve.
“People have to come out and experience it,” Blizzard said. “It’s an experience. It’s a community. It’s a camaraderie. There’s so much talent in Richmond that people really need to come and experience for themselves. Andrea has really given us that platform.”
With its growing popularity, it is evident that Hand-Made in RVA has already begun to make the difference that Daughtry had intended for Richmond.
“Our mission is to create safe spaces for people of color that are inclusive of everyone,” Daughtry said. “Our focus is to empower and strengthen small business everywhere we can.”
With the maker market on the rise once again, Hand-Made in RVA creates a space to celebrate some of Richmond’s best.