July 12, 2021 •
A Homespun Holiday

Antiquaria elevates the act of calligraphy into a meditative practice.

For many retailers in our space, strong fourth-quarter sales result from stellar in-store shopping experiences and exceptional DIY workshops. Luna is still hoping to kick off her season with her holiday open house the first weekend in November. The festivities include watercolor, cookie decorating, and calligraphy workshops, all of which “customers have been begging us to start again,” she explained.

Antiquaria elevates the act of calligraphy into a meditative practice.
Antiquaria elevates the act of calligraphy into a meditative practice.

Bailey Rivera and Emma James are proprietresses of the Antiquaria wholesale range and mercantile in Littleton, Colorado. While they have built a tight craf ting community, “We have definitely seen this really boom in the past year as people found a new appreciation in making and hobby related products,” Rivera noted, citing their calligraphy kit and interactive sticker sheets as recent customer favorites. “We see a shift in customers valuing the experience of the product and looking for more than just an object.”

DIY Pin Tins from Kata Golda.
DIY Pin Tins from Kata Golda can be the start of new family customs.

Alison Kaplan of Kata Golda Handmade has also seen a big jump in interest in her DIY kits and craft supplies. “The intention of the finished project plays a big factor in what products customers gravitate toward: a little pin to put on a child’s jacket, a heavily stitched pocket pal to hang on the Christmas tree, a stuffed companion to gift to a grandchild, a new hardbound book for journaling. I love it when people share pictures of their creations with me, and I get to see how they have made the project their own.”

STORiBRUSH integrates personalization into the DIY mix by transforming photographs into paint-by-numbers.
STORiBRUSH integrates personalization into the DIY mix by transforming photographs into paint-by-numbers.

The winter holidays already have so many established handmade traditions, James continued. “Whether it’s cookies with the littles, ornaments, table decorations or hand-addressed holiday cards, customers are looking to up their skills with each passing year. We definitely see a huge uptick in calligraphy kit and calligraphy supply sales as the holidays approach. People are purchasing both for themselves to help them craft holiday tags and envelopes and of course, also for gifts.”

“In my house, the same col lection of things comes out of the holiday box every year, and most of those things are handmade,” added Kaplan. “They hold so many memories – not just in the tradition of displaying the item year after year, but also the memory of the time spent making it. These things represent dif ferent ages and phases of creativity with my daughter, the different crafts that were sparking my interest that year, the things my mom saved that I made when I was little. I like to add a new keepsake each year. I always set the intention to slow down and craft and create during the holidays, both for myself and to give as gifts.”

Kaplan encourages her retailers to set up a little display of the made items as a silent selling tool. “I offer a pre-made version of all of the DIY kits, or I nudge the retailer to try their hand at making one of the kits for display.”

Paper + Craft Pantry
Traditional crafts are being rediscovered and redfined by today’s captivating marketplace. Pei Sim of The Paper + Craft Pantry lets hand drawn blackboard imagery and messaging set the creative mood.

The elephant in the room is when in-person workshops can resume, and how to build community in the meantime. “If conditions do not allow meeting in person,” Luna promised, “we’re looking at holding (holiday) events online!”

When IRL is impossible, venues that “offer support and have knowledgeable, crafty staff have the most success,” Rivera described. “We have a library of tutorial content we’ve made over the years to use as a reference.”

Like many makers, Kaplan started posting free sewing tutorials on her site the past year, building brand loyalty as crafters sharpen their skills. “I try to make these projects accessible to most skill levels and adaptable to materials people likely already have at home. These projects are a good place to start when you want to make something but find your mind empty of ideas.”

The prospect of gathering to craft in person is appealing on several levels, finished James. “We think this category is one that is here to stay. As we are able to gather more safely, I can see meetups and classes being a really big draw for local shops and their communities.”

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