The MADE: Indie Emporium is nestled inside the corner of the beautiful Art Deco Philcade Building in downtown Tulsa. The oil boom in the Roaring Twenties led to incredible growth in the city that residents are still able to enjoy today. It’s no wonder artists are drawn to the city. The setting alone is inspiring.
AUDIO: Click HERE to listen to the organizer explain how the DIY culture works (or download on iTunes by searching DIYNuru)
I had already been planning a visit to the emporium. It was a tweet about an upcoming craft event that prompted me to pickup the phone to ask for an interview. More on that in a moment.
As you open the door that leads to the entrance of the MADE: Indie Emporium, I challenge your jaw not to drop and your eyes to keep their normal shape. Grand gold decor drips from the ceiling as your feet enjoy the lavish marble antique floor. As my friend Susan and I looked around in awe, I thought to myself, we can actually walk in and out of this beautiful building anytime we want with no charge! Did we miss the ticket booth?
Susan and I gawked for a while, then continued on to meet Thom Crowe, the shop’s co-organizer, on a Saturday afternoon. The first room of the shop is unlike anything I have ever seen (I later learned the front of the emporium is an old credit union that is still outfitted with teller windows). The cutouts are filled with goodies you can’t find anywhere else and the business cards of the artists. To the left is a cozy retro den that faces a large picture window looking into the beautiful hallway of the Philcade Building.
Once you pass what used to be the lobby, artists of all kinds are set up in separate rooms. Susan and I start at the back (Thom and Christine’s spot). My eyes dart from gem toned shirts topped with lace, to the pillow covers and on to the Oklahoma leather cuffs. On the wall, is a vintage yarn-artwork of a pheasant. Everything from the ceiling to the floor is stuffed with handmade and vintage items.
We venture one door over, where a pretty young brunette with a short blunt bob co-owns a spot with one of a kind stationary and hilarious socks (her most popular clients are businessmen). We talked and laughed. I was amazed when she told me her little shop has been open for a year. My inner-cheerleader did a quick Hercules and threw up her spirit fingers.
The third door is a blend of old and new and complete genius. Pages of recycled books are turned into new shiny things like pendants, necklaces and magnets. The friendly worker behind the counter asks if we’re first timers and helps us with any questions we have. She explains that the owner is out on maternity leave. I was interested in learning more for about five seconds. My A.D.D. kicked in with so many shiny objects. Susan and I wanted to see and touch everything.
After we satisfied our curiosity in that spot, we moved to the last and fourth door. The smell of handmade soaps and snicker doodle body scrub fills the air. The lady manning the shop quickly wraps up her phone conversation to see if we need help. I quickly learn she is a retiree and the mother of the artist. Within minutes, the woman has me on the phone with the owner talking about doing an interview one day soon. The nice lady starts to fill me in on the soaps, dog biscuits, beer label dog collars and whatever else her daughter can make with the leftovers from her husband’s home brew. She’s a hoot and I absolutely enjoyed every minute with her.
It’s not only what’s on the shelves that makes MADE unique. On top of what’s for sale, the artists share their expertise. The MADE artists have offered incredibly creative and inexpensive workshops.
Here are just a few:
- Etsy Craft Party- A one day celebration of meeting and making on June 6, 2014. This year’s theme focuses on transforming photographs into display-worthy works of art, using a variety of craft supplies and creative techniques. Click here for tickets..
- Swap-O-Rama-Rama- Everyone brings a bag of old clothing to be combined in one big pile. Skilled artists, with sewing machines ready, teach you how to make modifications to your new/used duds. Experts also provide guidance on screen printing and other embellishments.
- DIY dream catcher class- Designers give hands on lessons on making your own dream catcher.
- Wheel spinning class- Learn to spin your own yarn using a spinning wheel. Wheel rentals available.
About the co-organizers and the beginning of MADE:
Thom Crowe and his wife Christine had been traveling around looking for places to showcase her work.
Thom tells me, “Then in 2012, at Christmas, they did the Deco District Holiday Pop Up Shops here. We came down, set up and just never left. It was a huge success. People loved it. People were looking for something unique and an alternative to the big box stores.”
The couple was in the right place at the right time. The handmade movement was just gaining steam and they were young twenty-somethings with a lot of energy.
“People want to buy from someone where they walk in and they’re meeting the owner.”
About a year later, they opened a second location, this time in the Pearl District.
The two stores now support 100 artists, many are friends and acquaintances.
More and more artists are hearing about the opportunity and want to join.
“Because of the overwhelming response, we’ve put an application on our website. So, you go, you fill out your information and then we have a committee that gets together, has a few drinks, and we see who will fit in our store? Is it competing with anything we have? And what’s the best time to introduce it?”
They don’t want to saturate the market.
“Unfortunately, I’ll use as an example, jewelry… so many people make jewelry. So, we have to be really selective with the jewelry we have.”
Thom says they want to make sure the shop and the artists are a success.
So, what makes the shop unique and special to me, your friendly DIY Nuru… is the willingness to share knowledge with those of us who may not have the natural talent.
See ya there.
If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email at DIYNuru@Gmail.com.