A group of artists in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough teamed up last spring to organize popup events in the community to sell various handmade items. Known as NDG Artists and Artisans, many participating artists have their own online shops but have expressed that this new initiative was a turning point for them.
“Just being able to be out there and taking to your customers is such a gamechanger,” says Maria Olaguera, one of the powerhouses behind the group. “You get a lot of feedback and insight into what people are looking for, which really helped my own creative process,” says Olaguera.
Olaguera got into making little sewing projects when people started to sell homemade reusable masks due to a global shortage of protective face masks in March 2020. In May 2021, she was invited by Cat Myth, a local NDG photographer, to participate in a last-minute outdoor popup for Mother’s Day in front of Kokkino Café.
Cat Myth recalls how excited the vendors were to participate in the first popup: “We had such a good time together all of us, that they wanted to do more popups and were asking me to let them know of any others I might organize. Rather than do that, I suggested that they organize their own, which they did, and that’s how it all started.”
Something that is very important to the artists is that the popups “should be mutually beneficial for the popup-ers and for the businesses where they took place,” says Cat Myth. The idea is to be a “win-win all around.”
The great thing about the popup initiatives was that the growth “was so organic, ”says Olaguera. “We just took things as they came, and learned from each event, and people started to get more and more interested, so we made a Facebook page then threw together a website.”
Lysanne Larose, a ceramic artist based in NDG, says that she does not expect to sell much at the popup events, “since it’s rare for people to spontaneously purchase an expensive bowl or espresso cup at a streetside stand.” However, she also says that the experience is helpful for her: “I can get really caught up making art in my little studio, so attending these markets pushes me to have a more ‘vendor’ kind of mindset. And after too many months of pandemic-imposed isolation and working from home, it’s lovely to meet folks from my neighbourhood and be part of a collective of similarly-minded people.”
Malacka Ackaoui, a painter, drawer, jewelry maker and glass fusion enthusiast, says that while exchanging with other participants is nice, the popups allow the artists to enlarge their contact web and make new friends. “This group is more than a sales group; it is about community and highlighting the creativity of NDG artists and artisans.”
“There are so many creative people in the community and everyone of them is unique—what they do is very unique,” says Olaguera in awe. “It feels like a party every time we have a popup so any sales we make just feels like a bonus!”
“I really want to emphasize how supportive they have been of letting us use their space and their terraces,” says Olaguera, “and even for letting some of our artists have their work on display in their businesses.”
Popup events were organized for almost every weekend throughout the summer months of 2021 at various locations throughout NDG at cafes, churches, restaurants, and even at the YMCA last December. “We love being outdoors,” says Olaguera, “we can’t wait for the summer!”
Be sure to check out NDG’s artists and artisans this Saturday, Jan. 29th at Nation Burrito 5700 Sherbrooke O.
Follow these links to find out more about the NDG Artists and Artisans popup group and the artists featured in the article:
NDG Artists and Artisans website: About Us – NDG Artistes et Artisans (mailchimpsites.com)
- Marvellous Maria | Linktree
- Maria Olaguera got into selling vintage items a few years back and now also creates various sewing projects made with lots of upcycled materials.
Cat Myth of Shootitall Photo
- Shootitall Photo | Facebook
- Cat Myth specializes in shooting events but ever since the pandemic she started to focus more on marketing and selling prints of photos she shot from passion, pleasure, and inspiration.
- Home | Atelier Larose MTL
- Lysanne Larose is a ceramic artist based in NDG who loves to incorporate bright colours, patterns and textures into her work. She creates unique ceramic pieces that bring her joy and lets her decompress.
- Malaka Ackaoui (@malakaackaoui)
- Malacka Ackaoui dedicated her life to her art 5 years ago, after working as a landscape architect/urban planner for over 40 years. She paints, draws, makes jewelry, experiments with glass fusion, and whatever else her heart desires.
Feature image: Two client’s content with their purchase, May 8th 2021 (the very first NDG Artists and Artisans popup event) By: Cat Myth of Shootitall Photo, iPhone Photography