Passion for one grows into art hub for all
(NEWAYGO, Mich.) If you walk into Katie and Company in downtown Newaygo, you'll see candles, wall art, jewelry, coffee, and other products all made by Michigan artists and makers.
But it's not just about the goods that are sold; the name "Katie and Company" is a symbol of the community that has been created.
"Everybody's just helping support each other and that wasn't around when I got started," said Katie DeVries, the owner of Katie and Company. "And so I love watching all of these vendors support each other."
An artist herself, DeVries started creating wood art full-time in 2018, and selling that art in pop-up shows in 2019.
When COVID hit, she had to get creative with sales and marketing, since the pop-up shows she had been attending were cancelled.
She found a unique spot: her yard.
"I had opened up my tent and trailer for one customer back in May right after COVID and after they left in less than half a day I sold over $1500 of my art, with just people driving by that saw my tent," said DeVries. "And I thought oh my gosh, I think I've got something going here in this location."
After that she invited other artists and makers to set up shop in her yard.
At one time, they had 86.
When fall came, DeVries said she wanted to find a spot where indoor pop-up shows could be held during the holiday season.
And that's what the current location of Katie and Company is supposed to be for, but it has become so much more than that.
"I came up here just to see if we can continue the pop-ups but when I came into this building, I just felt something different and it's the shop that we have now," said DeVries.
More than 70 Michigan artists and makers now have their work inside Katie and Company.
DeVries says her only requirement for those selling products inside the shop is they share social media posts that promote the products of the other artist and makers.
"All of it has been about community over competition because there is no competition as far as I'm concerned," said DeVries. "I want everybody to win, everybody wants to see each other succeed. So it's just been an amazing thing that we've done through this pandemic."
They also have a Facebook group with almost 500 artists and makers who network on a regular basis.
DeVries even mentors others who are starting out, or who just want some advice.
"I did a couple vendor 101's," said DeVries. "I learned these lessons the hard way and if I can save them time and money and they can take that advice and tweak it or whatever it might be to help their business grow, I want to help them."
DeVries said if an artist is looking for opportunities to sell their work, craft shows are a great way to get started.
She also recommends finding a Facebook group to connect with other artists and vendors in your area.
For DeVries, it's no longer just about the art, but the connections that have been made along the way.
"Just being able to support somebody else and see them blossom is amazing, so I'm very passionate about that," said DeVries.
If you would like to learn more about Katie and Company, visit their website.