Are you interested in opening your own studio to let your creative juices flow? The Maker Sessions presents their last discussion featuring panelists from all over Ohio. We spoke with Betty Floored, founder and owner of Handmade Toledo about her successful business.
The Devil Strip: What inspired you to open up your own multipurpose space?
Betty Floored: It started with me being a maker myself. I’ve had a sewing business since about 2009 and I would do a lot of indie craft fairs similar to Crafty Mart. I’m traveling to all these places like Chicago, to sell my goods and I thought, “Why isn’t there a show in Toledo?” Handmade Toledo was born outside of Maker’s Mart. We did an Indie craft fair in Toledo and expected 500 people to show up, but we had about 1500 people show up. We’re like, “Whoa, this is amazing!” And we’ve been doing it ever since 2012. So after the very first Maker’s Mart, Handmade Toledo was born out of that, and we wanted to keep adding more things that weren’t just show things, like educational and more pop-ups around town.
After two years of Maker’s Mart we finally secured a location full time which is a 10,000 square foot building with the same vendors. We have a retail space, [with] around 200 or so handmade independent artists in the shop. We also have a classroom/workshop space for crafty art classes and a few studio spaces in the building, including my sewing studio.
We do pop-up shops, birthday parties, gallery shows, theater productions. The space is just constantly evolving.
TDS: Why did you choose to open a multipurpose space as opposed to just a sewing studio?
BF: I wanted to give opportunities to other artists like my friends who helped me make this show and make it amazing. . . We have a strong local connection and I’ve always been involved in the community.
TDS: How do the different components of that space work together?
BF: For example, I make my bags there and then I sell them in the shop that is in the other room. We do Maker’s Mart twice a year, which is a major deal. We’ll also do events there, and people know they can display their work. We just keep it flowing, change it up and keep it creative.
TDS: What are some of the things you would like to discuss on the panel?
BF: I’d like to talk about collaboration a lot because I’ve collaborated with so many artists in the maker community, and if it weren’t for those collaborations, I wouldn’t be doing the things I would be doing. I think co-working and collaboration is just so great.
TDS: Why did you fall in love with sewing?
BF: I went to art school in college. I had a ceramic studio and I had all of these amazing tools at my fingertips, but then I graduated. I’ve always had a soft spot for utilitarian functional art, like making something and doing something with it. I wanted to keep making things, too. I was also inspired by vintage clothing, and I’m a curvy lady so they didn’t fit the way I wanted them to. I was like, “You know what? I want to learn how to sew and make my own dresses.” My friends like “Woah woah woah, let’s slow down and learn how to sew first.” I liked the challenge of sewing, and I learned other techniques and it went from there.