The very first event Make48 hosted was in our beautiful hometown of Kansas City. A city which, as featured in National Geographic’s top 50 places to travel in 2019, is “caught up in an urban renaissance.” Thanks to events like the Strawberry Swing, KC’s re-urbanization is taking the papers by storm. “I want The Swing to represent the Maker Movement. I want us to be known as the forefront event that highlights makers and small businesses, where our vendors and our guests know they will be in the company of some of The Midwest’s most talented makers,” said Katie Mabry van Dieren, curator and owner of the largest lifestyle maker event in Kansas City.
“The Swing started in 2011 and was the grand idea of Heather Baker. She saw an absence of an event that was more of a lifestyle event than your typical craft fair, where you have vendors set up in a gym, and not many other activities,” When Heather left Kansas City in 2013, Katie took the plunge “and said YES!” Since then, the Swing has only grown in size and popularity.
It didn’t take long for people outside of the Midwestern maker community to take notice, as the event was featured in Buzzfeed’s ‘Top 35 Indie Craft Fairs in the World!’ Lucky number thirteen as Katie put it.
But what makes this event so uniquely noteworthy? “Our juried makers specialize in ceramics, clothing, printing, painting, photography, woodworking, leather working, metalsmithing, fiber arts, and more. We strive to showcase the highest quality handmade goods in an inclusive and accessible environment,” Katie explained. “Our makers and guests are some of the best people we know. The Swing just seems to put a smile on everyone’s face, even if it’s raining! We have some of the best, inspired, handmade & vintage vendors, innovative food trucks, local live music, kids’ crafts and a really great time.”
The Swing has given birth to a movement of its own, a local not-for-profit called Troost Market Collective, founded by Katie herself and partner Crissy Dastrup. “Creativity and entrepreneurship are what the American economy is founded upon and nurturing diverse, local business ensures a strong community. If we can support creative entrepreneurs and small businesses equitably, we can then grow and foster commonality,” explained Katie.
Shopping local helps the community economically. “More than $68 of every $100 spent remains in the community when you shop local, opposed to $43 when you shop chain stores”, and it helps the environment “conserve energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation and less packaging.” Being an active part of your community is important, as “studies have shown that local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains, and you create jobs and invest in entrepreneurship.”
The Troost Market Collective (TMC) is a 501(c)3 non-profit that will be located on the 31st block of Troost in the future. “We know that we can support creative entrepreneurs and small businesses, which in turn can grow and foster the community on the East & West sides of Troost. Systemic and economic injustice has taken place over decades, leading to divestment on Troost.”
With Kansas City becoming a growing destination for makers, TMC could not come at a better time for the community. “Our mission is to create equitable economic opportunity for creative entrepreneurs and inspiring future generations through innovative partnerships and programming. We will have collective makerspaces with shared equipment, residencies for low income artists living east of Troost, paid memberships, programming for the community and more!”
Thanks to Makers and leaders like Katie, Heather, and Crissy, Makers across the midwest have a creative outlet like The Strawberry Swing and a catalyst like the Troost Market Collective to continue bringing the grassroots movement of Makers to the global stage. If you want to be a part of this awesome experience or visit the free event, visit their Strawberry Swing website and support local creatives in your city.