On Saturday, I had the pleasure of helping a classmate out, as she presented and sold at the craft fair organized by Les Francofolies. This year, the vendors were placed under a large tent, several hundred feet South of Sainte-Catherine Street, at the corner of Bleury, in Montreal’s Cartier des Spectacles.
While those who had been closer to the sidewalk and had had to be relocated under the tent were happy to be out of the rain, the general consensus was that exposure had been better, last year, when everyone got to sell at the foot of the steps at Place des Arts, where there is a constant flow of pedestrians. The upside to all of this is that I had time to go around and take a look at what everyone was up to. Here are my top four favourite vendors, in no particular order:
You can’t walk by Sarah-Geneviève Perreault’s table without one of her herb and spice combinations halting you in your tracks. For some, it’s how visually pleasing her presentation is, with its minimalist-meets-organic appeal. I have an acute sense of smell and so, for me, it was how her Mexican infusion mix instantly made me wish I was staying in a remote village in Mexico, with its cooking smells wafting over and luring me out of me out of my room. The Thai and Turkish combos invoked similarly appropriate images that, combined with their creator’s warm and open disposition made it hard for me to tear myself away and move on to the next vendor.
Chez Figue was founded when Sarah-Geneviève realized how saturated Montreal’s personalized catering market was becoming and she felt that, while keeping a firm hold on her passions, she had to branch out and try something else. She now offers gin-making and vodka infusion kits, made from all-natural ingredients. I, for one, will be heading to Café La Tazza, in Verdun, one of her three current retailers, when it’s time to shop for Christmas. And probably also next week, just because.
Unfortunately, Miss Cocotte’s designer, Josée Gagnon, was not at her table when I passed by but I was happy to get a look at her work, in person, after coming across it on a few of my online scouting missions. I did see a few of her pieces go down the runway, at D Moment, a while back but stopping to touch and see up close was much for satisfying. I noticed her impeccable presentation before I realized whose work it was; this woman pays attention to detail and her brand image is crystal clear.
While I didn’t speak with Tamara Bavdek, the label’s designer, I did chat a little bit with the woman who was helping her out, that day. Again, I’d only seen their work online and, as with the designers I represent, photos rarely do jewelry justice. My classmate’s booth was across from This Ilk, once the latter had been moved in from the rain, and I caught myself often glancing over at the lovely, lightweight pieces that reminded me of feathers having just landed, after falling from the sky. The women at the table made me miss the West Coast and long for Venice Beach or even Squamish, something not very many East Coasters can do, no matter how boho they make their style. This is a question of essence and it ties in beautifully with the brand and with the work itself.
Les Fantaisies de Mamzelle Sofy is a one-woman enterprise that offers up personalized, handpainted dishes, in addition to some jewelry and to magnetic cabuchons for wine glass labeling. Sophie Nadeau is my classmate and I’ve watched her work hard and constantly improve her business model, since we met, in January. She’s outspoken and helpful and quite the talented wee powerhouse. If you’d like to have your child’s drawing handpainted onto a coffee cup, a custom Star Wars cheese platter or anything in between, check her out!
All in all, it was a pleasant day and even those who didn’t sell very much appreciated the opportunity to network and to introduce their work to new people. I look forward to spending time there, next year, although what roll I will play remains to be seen!