Saturday, families settled in behind brand new LED TVs, icing the bruises earned battling for that larger-and-brighter-than-life display and apprehensively eyeing day three of turkey-centric meals. Jeff Bezos saw his net worth explode to over $100 billion, enough to buy the NFL and the MLB, or, alternatively, cover out of state tuition for all out of state students at New College for about the next 200 years. Meanwhile, in the backyard of a local brewery, away from the fray of the malls, locals perused the work of local artists in a more bohemian commemoration of consumption.
JDub’s, a Sarasota microbrewery that churns out often adventurous craft beers, frequently throws events to keep folks coming through and tasting their creations, which include unusual flavors including raspberry, maple and dandelion. This past weekend, they threw the 73 Degree Flea Indie Market Lunch, an unabashedly indie event bringing together local artists, entrepreneurs and one lone food truck to share, promote and sell their goods. Attendees filled mason-jars with their favorite beers–the less prepared and the more cynical accepted their drinks in plastic cups–then set out to wander through stalls brimming with handiwork.
A wide range of vendors presented a diverse collection of products ranging from massages to hand-knit scarves and T-shirts adorned with hand-pressed designs. Sarasota Candle Company brought handmade candles with flamboyant names like “Take it Easy” and “When Monkeys Attack.” Noelle & Lola, based out of Stuart, Florida, displayed their unique and brightly patterned handbags, while Sunshine Canning passed out small-batch jams, pickles and mustards.
For Elma Felix, the artist and entrepreneur behind Ebijou Studio, her Sarasota-based business is “a labor of love.”
“I’ve always made my own jewelry ever since I was little, whether it was a bracelet, or even just a piece of cord with a bead on it,” Felix said. In her current jewelry making endeavors, a particular style of colorful fabric characterizes her bijoux. “Everything is made out of Ankara wax print fabric–those are made on the West coast of Africa. It’s a different way of depositing color onto cotton, basically, so you use wax to both deposit the color and seal it.”
Molded into earrings, necklaces and scarfs by Felix, the colorful patterns of the Ankara fabric make Ebijou’s products bright, unique and exciting. Even in an artisan fair, the colors of Ebijou’s stall shone through. But for Felix, who works full time in Sarasota as an architect and urban planner, Ebijou serves a purpose beyond being a fount of bold, made-with-love accessories.
“It’s sort of a creative outlet, which is how I kind of balance it,” Felix said. “I get home–I call it my six to eleven–it’s the job that gives me a little bit of meaning, a little bit of context to life.”
At Poetry Cowgirl Nail Polish, a shop for gluten free, cruelty free and vegan friendly handmade nail polish, Kristen Beals concurred with what Felix had said. For her, making nailpolish was an opportunity be creative and to escape a mundane job. Also like Felix, Beals makes all the products that she sells.
“Everything is handmade. I hand-bottle and hand-pour, and I label everything. We were living in San Diego, and I was working a job that was not really very creatively satisfying,” Beals said. “And there’s an indie polish scene online–of course, cause there’s a network for everything online–and I started out just as a customer buying polish from other people, but I needed a creative outlet and my background is in art, so I decided to start making polish myself, and it just kind of branched out from there.”
For Nevaeh Thompson, by far the youngest vendor at 11 years old, art provides a similar balance. Thompson got her start selling art when a self portrait of hers was featured in FACEing Mental Illness: The Art of Acceptance, a community art project dedicated to destigmatizing mental illness and creating a community for those whom it affects.
“I love doing art, and it’s a chance to be calm, so it helped me, cause I struggled with ADHD. So, every time I was struggling, I would do art and it would calm me down,” Thompson said.
For 73 Degrees’ youngest vendor, creating and selling art has contributed to the growth of her self confidence. With her artwork in Selby Library and having sold a piece to a successful Sarasota businessman, the process of making art has become central to Thompson’s life.
“It has helped transition into being comfortable with accepting her challenges, instead of people making fun of her,” Thompson’s mom, Idalia Rivera, added. “Some people used to tell her ‘you need to take your medication,’ so it helped her to bypass all that.”