Meet the Women Who Founded the World-Famous Echo Park Craft Fair
Plus, learn how they were inspired by Martha.
Ten makers, ten years ago: That's how the Echo Park Craft Fair first got its start when creative-minded friends Rachel Craven and Beatrice Valenzuela hosted an impromptu gathering in their backyard. The idea was to offer an opportunity for local artisans to make and sell their finest creations in jewelry, home dêcor, and textiles.
Fast forward to today, and the lot at Mack Sennett Studios, where the next fair will take play from May 11 and 12, will be lined with 158 artisans from all corners of the world. Their chosen trades range from ceramics to woodworking, fabric art to food and drink, and custom clothing. Over a single weekend, these artisans will showcase their designs to thousands of visitors ready to partake in the goods.
"The original spirit has stayed exactly the same," Craven says. "We collaborate with people whom we admire and who inspire us. Also, we actually empower each other, and in that way, help foster a community with a force and energy larger than just the sum of its parts."
The biannual bazaar draws an influential crowd of retail buyers, stylists, and magazine editors. (Martha and our editors have been known to attend.) Their mix of makers-including covetable names like Healther Taylor Home, Misha and Puff, Sheldon Ceramics, and Tenzo-is carefully curated by Craven and Valenzuela. Both women hail from an artistic background-Craven having studied at art school and worked in fashion styling, and Valenzuela in styling, film production, and boutique businesses-and as such, they have honed their focus to support other female entrepreneurs. That includes modern printer Nicole Katz of Paper Chase Press, florist Kristen Caissie of Moon Canyon, and candlemaker Wendy Polish of Le Feu De L'Eau to name a select few.
Among their muses? The founders both agree that their entrepreneurial spirit is in part inspired by Martha herself. "Beatrice and I were both raised in the era when Martha Stewart's homekeeping tips and tricks dominated the media landscape," Craven says. "Through TV, books, and magazines, Martha seemed to be teaching us how to bake a lemon cake, expertly arrange a bouquet, or the proper way to fold a duvet. Now, as adults we are aware that she was teaching us so much more than how to keep a home."
"Martha was actually modeling for us how to be fearless entrepreneurs, how to design and build a brand based on craft and makers, how to continuously refresh a media platform, and how to steadfastly stick to our values as it relates to nurturing the maker community," Valenzuela adds. "Through her omnipresent media empire, she was really teaching women how to thrive."
If you're in the Los Angeles area, you'll want to stop by: the Echo Park Craft Fair will be open for three days, starting May 11 and 12, between the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase, starting at $15.