Grace Gulley of CYL Collective and Sam Shaw from Makers Movement are two women who generously and enthusiastically highlight the talents of others and have built supportive and empowering communities. We thought it would be fun to focus on them for once. We wanted to learn more about why they started their respective communities, and how their new collaboration,The Handmade Pop Up came to be.
Heather and I are thankful to them, because we regard COTFA as a small part of this greater creative community that Grace and Sam have helped shape. In many ways, it's thanks to their efforts that there is room for us to do our own thing, and we are thankful for their influence and inspiration. Outside of COTFA in our own practices, Heather is a member of CYL Collective and I was honored to have a published essay in Makers Magazine. Thank you so much ladies! We cannot wait to see what unfolds in the future for you, and I know we would love to meet you in real life one day, preferably in an exotic locale with umbrella drinks!
Thank you so much for sharing with us today! Sam and Grace, you have both created huge positive creative communities through your individual work with CYL Collective and Maker’s Movement. We know how much work goes on behind the scenes and we applaud you for all you do. Anyone can have a great idea, but you both have taken it upon yourselves to execute these ideas and grow your communities in such organic ways. Can you share with us how you came up with your respective ideas, why you decided to execute these ideas, and why it is so important to you?
Grace: Oh boy, do you want the long answer or the short answer! My initial intent in starting CYL was to create a place where female creatives didn’t have to feel alone. And when I say females, I include myself, because I was very literally alone in a new state far from friends and family. When I snatched up the Instagram real estate in January 2015, I was floundering in my own creativity. I had dabbled, in near everything, but none of it hit that level of fulfillment I wanted. So fast forward about three months, and what started with (ever-so-slightly-selfish) motives was beginning to change me and my life path. CYL was gaining traction and others were seeing its true potential. I was realizing the value in what I was creating! And I saw that there were countless others like me, that wanted to feel inspired and connected, and in turn offer their support.
That’s when I decided that I was going to put everything I had into CYL. Never before had things in my life felt so right, and never before did I believe in something I was doing as much as this. Watching others connect and lift one another up makes all the insane behind-the-scenes hours totally worth it. Knowing that true kindness exists has softened me and motivated me to continue fostering this community.
Sam: It all began very organically! When I started Maker’s Movement back in December 2014, I was heavily into making things, and had been since I was young. I enjoyed exploring different mediums, which lead me through a lot of creative ‘phases’: sewing, painting, macrame, metalsmithing, lino stamps, candle making, and the list goes on… I started to connect with a lot of inspiring artists and makers on Instagram, relating over little things like the excitement of packaging orders to the struggle of being a one-woman show. It began from a simple thought that came knocking: it would be really cool to be able to support all these amazing and talented creatives who are out there doing their thing. I didn’t dwell on over-thinking or planning, which is huge, because those are two things I tend to do a lot. I did think for a couple days on a name. Some of the initial ideas on my list are definitely LOL-worthy when I look back at them! I wanted the makers to be at the heart of it all. Maker’s Movement popped into my head (it was available on IG.. SCORE!), and so it began.
The community continued to grow on Instagram, but I was ambitious to offer more. About a year in, another simple thought came knocking: it would be really cool to round up the amazing creative accomplishments of the community and put it in print. At first I was thinking low key, maybe hit up the library printers with some nice thick paper stock and a stapler to create a zine… But when the submissions started to roll in, I knew I had to do more. I connected with an amazing local print house, taught myself InDesign, and spent many many many late nights hunched over the computer. When Issue 1: Mother Nature hit the community in January, the response blew me away. It wasn’t perfect, that’s for sure, but people felt the passion and loved seeing familiar names and their IG friends in print. Partially crazy, primarily moved by passion, I decided that Maker’s Magazine would carry on as a bi-annual print publication. My journey with Maker’s Movement and all the wonderful artists and makers I have met along the way has given me a sense of place and purpose like never before. When people reach out to share their story, or return with enthusiasm and gratitude over being featured in print, it makes the endless hustle worthwhile; it’s why I started and it’s what keeps me going day after day.
Maker’s Movement and CYL Collective teaming up for The Handmade Pop-Up is a match made in heaven, and we're so excited to watch what unfolds. How did this collaboration come about, and what are you hoping this will do for the makers and creatives you're supporting?
We’re so excited to watch this idea unfold too!!!
Since the founding of Maker’s Movement and CYL Collective, we have been finding different ways to collaborate and bridge together our communities. We exist on a lot of the same values of community and handmade, so collaboration has come easy for us. We’ve run a few loop giveaways together, and last holiday season we joined forces to host a giant Secret Santa Swap. Since the holidays are such an important time for handmade and small businesses to thrive, we thought it would be a great idea to host something even bigger and better than last year! Since Sam is based in Toronto and Grace is in LA, we knew it needed to be online. So we both put our thinking caps on.
The idea hit us back in May. A pop-up event would be ideal, but it wouldn’t work for us or our international communities. We’ve seen a lot of online shops curate handmade goods, but never a weekend pop-up online. So we merged the two ideas together and decided to take the weekend market feel and turn it global... and The Handmade Pop-Up was born!
We hope this online pop-up will help provide exposure and boost sales for participating vendors during the busy holiday season. It’ll be a great opportunity for makers to connect with one another, and to offer them an opportunity to reach shoppers they may not have reached otherwise. Collectively our audience with CYL and Maker’s Movement is expansive, and we really want to lend that to support our communities this season. We’ll be sharing gift guides and resources to promote our vendors and to offer a curated shopping experience for buyers. Finding unique gift ideas isn’t always easy, so we’re here to gather up an awesome collection of quality handmade goods to help make holiday shopping a breeze!
What advice would you give for people looking to get more involved with your respective communities if they don't know where to start? Maybe they're starting out, are shy, new to their craft, etc..
A great and simple place to start is ENGAGE. Hop onto the @cylcollective & @makersmovement feed and scope out some of the features. If you feel a pull to certain pieces, take a moment to comment and follow the maker. Communication and connection is at the heart of community. We promise people are innately nice (especially within our respective communities), so say hi, introduce yourself!
If makers are interested in applying to be a vendor for The Handmade Pop-Up, applications are open internationally until SEPTEMBER 15th, midnight EST. For the full scoop: www.thehandmadepopup.com
If you’re looking to participate in other ways, both Maker’s Movement and CYL Collective offer opportunities to get involved:
Maker’s Movement: Submit to be featured on the IG feed (a free but curated process), pitch a blog idea, submit a design to the Patch Project, hit us with your own collab idea, or contribute a piece to Maker’s Magazine. We’re currently recruiting for Issue 3: The Blues and I’m so excited about this theme! We’ll push beyond the colour to explore the historical, musical, emotional and visual world of the blues.
Scope all you need to know about these opportunities on our website: www.makersmovement.ca > JOIN tab.
Or just drop us a line to say what’s up: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CYL Collective: Just like Maker’s Movement, features on the Instagram feed will always be free! Or if you want something a little more involved, throw a blog post idea at me. (Nudge, nudge I tend to promote blog posts on the IG feed. More bang for your buck!) I also am preparing to launch a free Facebook group. And if you really want the full CYL experience, memberships are an option! I only open enrollment a few times a year, but you are free to learn more about it on my website, www.cylcommunity.com. Info on getting featured, the FB group and blog submittals is all available on the site as well.
I also love hearing from you all, so feel free to shoot me an email: email@example.com.
Do you have any exciting personal projects or news that you're working on in your free time? Do you even have free time? We'd love to hear.
Grace: Free time… hmmm.. I think I’ve heard of that! No, seriously though that would have been my answer about four or five months ago! I’ve learned (the hard way) that personal time is absolutely necessary! So much so, that I’ve decided I need to set a better example because I want to place importance on this within the CYL community.
ANYWAY… yep, tons of things happening outside of CYL that I’m excited about! For my side hustle (Lark + Arrow / @larkandarrow) I’m preparing to do my first gallery show. It’s going to be weird to read this later and see that, since I’m still in disbelief. But super excited for that! I’m also pushing myself to get a little weird with rope and push beyond my comfort zone.
And outside of my side hustle, like I mentioned I’m focusing pretty hard on relishing my free time and treating myself with care and love. Aka, I’m justifying monthly massages, long outdoor lunches and twice-monthly ‘something news’. ;)
Sam: I love Grace’s response and could definitely spend more time indulging in practices of self-care and love. Things are a bit routine for me at the moment. I spend days at my 9-5 (marketing at an environmental engineering firm), evenings and weekends with Maker’s Movement, and most of my spare time outdoors - walking, hiking, wandering. Amidst it all, I am always daydreaming about new personal projects. It’s kinda funny, I’ve been so invested in supporting handmade that I kind of stopped making. The inspiration and ideas never stopped, but I tend to give them too much space and not enough time that they flutter away before I can turn them into something more than just an idea. Lately, I’ve been enjoying finding tiny ways to carve out time for art, even if it’s not in the capacity it once was. Right now that looks like little doodles that help me work through small thoughts and bigger life changes. I haven’t shared them with anyone (except my better half), because I quite like it being my own space at the moment… It’s still early and I don’t want to scare them away!
Any idea what’s next for CYL Collective and Maker’s Movement?
Sam: Big things are coming in the next couple years. I’m not sure what exactly it’ll look like just yet, but I’ve got preliminary plans to take Maker’s Movement on the road next year (coffee meets, park hangs, pop-ups, collab events to come), and a physical space at the end of the road sounds pretty sweet to me… ;)
Grace: You are opening a flood gate with this one! Since I was little, if there’s been one constant in my life, it’s that I’ve wanted to travel. CYL seems to be creating the perfect opportunity for that. The community is spread out all over the world, and I would love to take this show on the road! (Hi, Sam! Maker’s Movement and CYL worldwide tour 2018? HAHA.) (Sam: YES, ALL OF THE YES. HERE WE COME WORLD!)
I also am working on a few ideas for publication and am hoping that these ideas will offer further exposure for the ladies of CYL. And if I can pull it off, I’d love to create an annual CYL ‘inspirational retreat’.