In this episode of Creative MKE, Elisabeth speaks with Cortney Heimerl, one of the co-founders and organizers of Hover Craft, Milwaukee’s Annual Handmade Holiday Shopping Event that is about to host its 13th iteration. Heimerl is an organizer with over 20 years of experience creating opportunities for artists, crafters, designers, and makers that focus on the idea that in-person sharing & collaboration make our communities stronger. After first convening her creative community connections through the formation of FASTEN – a collaborative of Milwaukee artists selling wearable art from the Beans N’ Barley parking lot, Heimerl went on to organize a makers’ market in Bay View, before launching Hover Craft. Heimerl is also a co-author of the book, and a producer of the documentary, “Handmade Nation.”
Throughout the conversation, Heimerl reflects on the robust creative community that exists in the region and predates the surge in local makers’ markets. Craft fairs build community where craft traditions exist, and create opportunities for makers to learn from one another, pool resources, and make connections. And, shoppers get inspired by connecting directly with artists -- in Heimerl’s words, it's an “exchange of curiosity and enthusiasm,” unlike the more anonymous experience of buying handmade items online.
Heimerl also sees craft fairs as micro business incubators, with each dollar that’s spent going towards the regional creative economy. Shoppers at Hover Craft are not only contributing to individual artists – supporting their livelihoods – but also allowing those artists to continue on their journeys and grow their businesses.
Follow Hover Craft at @Hovercraftmke and follow Cortney at @CortneyHeimerl
About the Organizers (from the Hover Craft Website):
Vanessa Andrew is a Milwaukee-based fiber artist, illustrator, community arts educator, and clothing designer. She runs Madam Chino, a Brewer's Hill boutique that sells handmade and vintage clothing, and offers custom sewing and alterations. Her approach to clothing and textiles raises awareness about conservation and child labor issues in consumer society. Vanessa is a co-founder of Hover Craft.
Ashley Smith is a small business owner and community organizer. She is the co-founder of Hover Craft, Girls Rock MKE, and One Trick Pony. She is also the owner of Alive and Fine vintage store that doubles as a pop-up gallery space.
Cortney Heimerl is a co-founder of Hover Craft. She is also an artist, crafter, and maker based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She gets excited by making new things and thinking about them. You can find her in her studio figuring out how to do something she has never done before and then, she moves on to the next thing she has never done before. Lately, you can find her conquering the art of ceramics at Yours Truly Studio.