“Something for everyone.” It’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot, but there are few spaces that live up to those words as well as the Holiday Handmade Market in Pueblo. Held in the El Pueblo History Museum in the heart of downtown Pueblo, the vendors at the Handmade Holiday Market cover a wide range of hand-crafted goods. From vegan truffles to jewelry, baby blankets to furniture, this market is truly a cross-section of the creative community in Southern Colorado.
The creative mind behind the market is Cordelia Smith, co-owner of Formulary 55— makers of small-batch specialty bath and body products. Cordelia and her partner, Anthony Hill, moved their growing bath and body business to Pueblo from Seattle in 2014, lured by the growing creative community and lower real estate prices. Although they were happy with their decision to move to a smaller community, Cordelia still missed some elements of the Seattle craft scene, including the annual craft show Urban Craft Uprising. “I was involved in Urban Craft Uprising as a vendor, and it was so much fun. I looked forward to that show every year and really missed not having that here in Colorado,” Cordelia said. “Last year, I went back to Seattle for that show, but I really wanted to duplicate that experience in Pueblo in some way.”
The result is the Holiday Handmade Market, which boasts 24 vendors hand-picked from Pueblo and the Southern Colorado region. For months before the market, Cordelia scours Etsy for crafters based in Southern Colorado and invites every crafter or artisan she has connected with in Pueblo to be part of the market.
Candace Oakley, owner of Choc of Ages vegan truffles and chocolates, is one of the local vendors with whom Cordelia is personally connected. “I used to work for Cordelia at Formulary 55,” Candace explained. “I know she throws great events, so I was very glad when she invited me to be a part of this.” Candace started making vegan truffles in her home kitchen as an alternative to the overly-sweet, commercial chocolates available in most stores. “I just wanted chocolates that are good for you,” she said. “Ones that you can eat and not feel bad afterwards. Traditional candy always leaves you feeling like you need more, but with these truffles, you can have one and not feel like you need to keep eating them.” Candace only started selling the truffles a few months before last year’s Holiday Market event, but she already has a loyal following for her unique flavor combinations like Cardamom Coffee Caramel and Lavender Vanilla.
Jennifer Roberts is another local vendor that’s appeared at the Holiday Handmade Market. Handsome Goods and Paper Co. is a gorgeous new shop in downtown Pueblo carrying a carefully curated selection of stationary, specialty papers, and gift items. The back of the shop has a working studio space where Jennifer creates beautiful handmade journals made out of imported Japanese papers and discarded art canvases. Jennifer also became a part of the market through a personal connection to Cordelia, as she carries Formulary 55 products in the store. She sees the arrival of Formulary 55 in Pueblo, and the opening of her own shop, as part of a larger trend of creative people moving to smaller communities. “I get a lot of people coming into the shop who are creators and artists,” Jennifer noted. “Many of them have moved from larger urban environments. There is an opportunity here for them to have affordable housing and pursue their creative passions more freely than in urban places.”
Second Hand Frog is one vendor Cordelia discovered through Etsy, and the unique creations at this booth are hugely popular. Owner and crafter Gerry Burklow, from Cañon City, is a crafting veteran; she and her husband have participated in craft shows all over Colorado for over 20 years. “We used to do homemade candles,“ she remembered. “We’ve done a little bit of everything. We really sent our daughter to college on crafting. “During the week, Gerry is a hospice nurse; crafting is her stress-release, needed time for herself. Her love of textile crafts started when she was just 6 years old, and she learned embroidery through 4-H, but she has experimented with many different types of crafting since then. Her latest creations, inspired by dolls she saw on a trip to England, are part paper mache animal, part doll, and completely adorable. “These interesting dolls I saw in England really sparked my imagination,” Gerry explained. “When I came home, I started collecting dolls, and one thing led to another! Each doll ends up having it’s own personality.” She hand sews the dresses for the dolls, as well as the felted mice and owls that are a hit with many at the market.
When talking about the Holiday Handmade Market, Cordelia is careful to distinguish between fine arts and crafts. “I feel like the arts community in Pueblo is pretty strong,” Cordelia explained. “But I wanted something more focused on crafts than fine art.” This focus on crafts also inspired the location for the Market: the El Pueblo History Museum, which has long been a venue for homesteader events and demonstrations. Building on this tradition, 2016’s market will feature interactive booths for people to make crafts of their own to take home. Cordelia is also planning on including a booth featuring new products in development for Formulary 55—a place to try out new bath salts, soaps, and other products before they go into production.
The town of Pueblo has long been the underappreciated home to local artisans and fine food producers—from Hopscotch Bakery, one of the top bakeries in the state, to Springside Cheese Shop, the only shop in Southern Colorado focused on fine cheeses. It seems that the tide is now turning, with many artisans and crafters settling in Pueblo and adding to an already vibrant creative community. The Holiday Handmade Market is a perfect venue to experience many of their wares and get a taste of the talent in this remarkable region.
Pueblo Holiday Handmade Market
November 19th, 2016, from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Free Goody Bag for first 100 people in the door!
Held at the El Pueblo History Museum
301 N. Union Avenue
Pueblo, CO 81003