School House Craft Fair: Local design and crafts to benefit school library

School House Craft Fair: Local design and crafts to benefit school library
Image courtesy Nectar Baby

Jewelry of all kinds, mittens made from recycled fabrics, delectable treats, upcycled fashion, graphic design, and much more will be on display at Armatage Montessori on Friday and Saturday for the first-ever School House Craft Fair, a fundraiser that benefits the school's library. The event will feature local artisans, craftspeople, artists, and designers.

Handmade hair accessory creator Holly Miller-Byzewski, who owns Nectar Baby, is the force behind the fair, which she says has a two-part goal: to provide an outlet for local people making handmade products to sell their work, and to help raise money for the library. Also, because "it's super fun," she says.

Miller-Byzewski, who is the wife of Aesthetic Apparatus co-owner Michael Byzewski, says Armatage is a place where there's a lot of involvement, so it's not unusual for a parent to put together a fundraiser. She and her husband have two children who attend the school: Jack, who is in second grade, and Sally, who is in pre-k. If the craft fair makes enough money, they'd like to pilot a Kindle program so that fourth and fifth graders can have a taste of the technology that's out there. 

"Minneapolis doesn't have any money for things like the library," she says. In her talks with the school librarian, Miller-Byzewski has found that funding for libraries is an ongoing struggle, and that the space hasn't been replenished in a long time. "She does ask for money every year," Byzewski says of the librarian, "but if she asks for $7,000, the school board can't give her $700." 

Miller-Byzewski went about recruiting people for the fair first by opening up the opportunity to student's parents. "I got a few interested parties, but not as many as I was hoping," she says. Her original goal was to line up at least 50 vendors. She then started contacting potential sellers, going off of lists from farmers' markets, Craft-O-Rama, and other craft fairs. She found that as soon as she contacted one craftsperson, they would suggest another person. "It seems like they all kind of move together, or at least know each other," she says. 

The vendors each pay $30 for a table, which goes directly to the library, and then give 10 percent of every sale to the library as well. 

Miller-Byzewski started her business, Nectar Baby, after her daughter was born. Before that, she had a business called Nectar Flower, which focused on wedding flowers, but she hasn't been able to do that since having kids. Nectar Baby is inspired by the old-school bows that Miller-Byzewski might have worn when she was little. 
School House Craft Fair: Local design and crafts to benefit school library
Image Courtesy Nectar Baby

Besides benefitting the school, the craft fair is an opportunity for crafters and artists to make some cash and promote themselves as a business. Part of the appeal of a craft fair like this is that all of the products are locally made. "I'm faced with that everyday," she says. "Would I purchase tomatoes from Chile or Minnesota? It's fun to see what we are capable of doing. I've been pleasantly surprised by the creativity of our neighbors." 

Among the vendors at the Craft Fair will be Aesthetic Apparatus, the graphic-design company which also has work at the Walker's "Graphic Design: Now in Production" exhibit, selling prints, concert posters, and T-shirts. There's also Wish Knot Jewelry, which makes necklaces, Elizabeth Hurley's illustrations, candies by Groveland Confections, bath and body products by Body Bliss, Mittens by Mona (made from recycled fabrics), Waist2Wrist, (bracelets made from recycled belts), Ocular Invasion (screen-printed material, Dianapantz (knitted apparel), and Happy Go Lucky Creations (patterns as well as printed materials). There's over 40 vendors total, selling everything from photography to books to greeting cards to hand-knit clothing. Coffee and espresso will be provided by Dogwood Coffee Company


The School House Craft Fair
Armatage Montessori, 2501 W. 56th St., Minneapolis
Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

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