This past weekend, Merinos Mill complex in Mooresville was host to the second annual Makers’ Market, a boutique-style trade show featuring many local businesses and Etsy shops.   While I’m typically not a trade show type of girl, Maker’s Market peaked my interest for several reasons.

First, proceeds from the event benefited our local Girls on the Run council.  Girls on the Run (GOTR) is an incredible non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire young girls to be joyful, healthful, and confident through 10-week running programs. With the help of volunteer coaches, girls in 3rd – 8th-grades train for an end-of-season 5k event.  Besides learning about the importance of physical fitness, weekly lessons also encourage emotional, social, and mental development, helping girls gain a better sense of self and feel confident navigating the world around them.

Girls on the Run has local roots, beginning in 1996 with just 13 girls but has expanded to over 49 states and the District of Columbia since then.  In 2015, 179,000 girls and 98,000 volunteers participated in 350 GOTR 5K events across the country!

Secondly, the event brought together over 50 local small businesses, online retailers, and Etsy shop owners, showcasing the wealth of creative entrepreneurship and the diversity of local stores in our community.

In all, over 600 shoppers turned out on Saturday, raising $7,500 for GOTR of the Greater Piedmont’s scholarship fund. (GOTR believes every girl should be able to participate in the program regardless of financial limitations; this fund helps cover the sign-up fee for girls that would otherwise be unable to participate.)

Amy Spear, the Events Coordinator of GOTR of the Greater Piedmont shared her excitement following the conclusion of the Maker’s Market:

I was thrilled with the outcome of the event! The proceeds directly support our GOTR scholarship fund to be sure that every girl has the opportunity to participate in this positive youth development program. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to work with our local council of Girls on the Run as I am so committed to our mission, which is, to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum.

Just look at the line of anxious shoppers waiting for the doors to open early Saturday morning and the hardworking group of ladies that put on this successful event.

All event photographs were taken by talented local photographer Heather Edmunds.  Check out Heather’s website for more information on her services and to book a shoot.  You can also visit her Facebook page to see more pictures from the event.

Maker's Market Mooresville Girls on the Run

As someone who is a strong advocate for supporting independent local businesses, it was so cool to see many of these establishments up close under the same roof.  Small businesses are so important to a thriving community.  For the most part, small business owners live right here in the Lake Norman area, so they have a vested interest in the health and vitality of our local economy; they want to build lasting relationships with their customers, support other small businesses, and contribute to local charitable organizations. As consumers, the money we spend at local businesses goes back into the community – we help increase our local tax base and create jobs.  Small businesses also spur healthy competition among others in their industry.  When businesses are constantly striving to offer the most unique and innovative goods and services, consumers benefit with a healthy local marketplace.

The model for many of our local businesses reminds me of one of my favorite books, Conscious Capitalism, written by John Mackey, the co-founder of Whole Foods Market.  The term capitalism conjures such negative reactions from many, but as Mackey explains in the book: “…no human creation has had a greater positive impact on more people, more rapidly than free-enterprise capitalism.”  He goes on to say that entrepreneurs are the true heroes in a free-enterprise economy, “solving problems by creatively envisioning different ways the world could and should be.” Conscious Capitalism is a must-read, not just for the business-minded, but for all Americans to better understand and help contribute to the great free market society in which we live.

Here is a sampling of some of the local businesses that came out to Makers’ Market (Click on the picture for a link to each businesses’ site).

Besides local businesses, Makers’ Market also gave many online-exclusive businesses and Etsy shop owners an opportunity to meet face-to-face with their customers.

If you’ve never shopped on Etsy before, what are you waiting for!  Talk about capitalists showing off their creative entrepreneurial spirit! Etsy is an online marketplace connecting makers and hobbyists with sellers all over the world. It’s the new face of entrepreneurship, allowing virtually anyone with unique goods to set up a business and invest in their own creative energy and time.

According to a recent Etsy report, 86% of Etsy shop owners are women. Etsy offers women (especially busy Moms) an outlet to express their creativity and ingenuity and earn income for their families in a flexible environment.  Etsy sellers are focused on making a profit but do so in a way that furthers their personal values and brings enjoyment.  Coming from someone who balances Mom duties with a stay-at-home job, (and loathes the idea of suppressing my creative and professional talents in a traditional 9-5 cubicle office setting) I was so inspired by all of the talented shop owners I met and their unique goods and wares.  From jewelry, skincare, and clothing and accessories, to personalized artwork, monogrammed t-shirts, and even marbelized iPhone cases, there was something for everyone.  And naturally, I picked up a few beautiful goodies for myself! (Like these copper hammered earrings.)

To learn more about these businesses or to visit their online or Etsy shop, click on each photo.  For a full list of all the vendors from this year’s Markers’ Market visit the vendor page here. Then get out (Even virtually on Etsy is ok) and support our local businesses and creative entrepreneurs today!

Maker's Market Girls on the Run
Maker's Market Girls on the Run
Maker's Market Girls on the Run