Makers Market Focuses on Handmade Goods from Local Artisans
By Lwin Mar Htun 3 May 2019
Held on the first Sunday evening of every month, the Makers Market brings together the finest local brands including handmade arts and crafts, food vendors, designer fashion brands, hands-on craft activities, music and nightlife.
The market offers a great opportunity to discover outstanding locally made products in one place and a chance to meet with artists, designers and craftspeople in person.
Among the interesting products to be found at the Makers Market are rattan baskets and boxes, cotton blouses, coconut shell crafts, handmade bamboo mugs and many others.
“The main purpose is to promote local products and help the local artisan community. And the event is plastic-free, because we want to create awareness among the public of the need to avoid plastic,” said Ma Kye Mon Lwin, one of the organizers of the Makers Market and founder of Organic Valley.
The market is restricted to locally made products. So, rule number one for those wishing to participate is that all products must be locally made, she said.
“Number two is that it’s a plastic-free event, so vendors must prepare non-plastic packaging, or visitors can bring their own shopping bags. And the products must be the artisans’ own creations, and unique,” she added.
This means no handmade or mass-produced goods are accepted; this is one of the main draws of the market.
The market opens in the evening and includes several small bars. Ma Kye Mon Lwin said, “Promoting local products is the main purpose, but we also want to create an event that will become a popular spot for a night out. That’s why it includes a few bars.”
Prior to establishing the Makers Market, Ma Kye Mon Lwin was a volunteer organizer at the Yangon Farmers’ Market (YFM), which sells organic and naturally made products.
“I was selling my products from Organic Valley at YFM, and then I became part of the team. I met two other friends from Kokkoya Organic Farm who have the same mindset and goals as me. The three of us started planning to make the Makers Market happen,” she said.
YFM is mainly focused on organic and naturally made foods and vegetables. After eight months, the three women discovered that there were a lot of handmade arts, crafts, fashion brands and many other things produced locally.
“So, we wanted to create a market where all these could be found under one roof; we launched the Makers Market and this coming May 5 will be the fifth time [it has been held],” she said.
Initially, she connected with other brands to become part of the market, which started with about 60 vendors, and they got a lot of attention from many local small businesses.
“I’m didn’t sell my products at the market at first. Then, I met with the owner of the Inle Princess Hotel. They have artisan village projects that sell handmade arts and crafts produced by people from Inle. So I want to help those artists and started discussing ideas with them about new things they could make, and so on. Now, I help and collaborate with them and bring handmade products from Inle to the Makers Market.”
She discovered that unfortunately many local artisans are still relying on foreigners because they don’t have a lot of knowledge of how markets work or have creative ideas for marketing their products.
However, she added that, “Most of the foreigners helping local artists are from NGOs. So that’s good and I hope local people can learn many things from them.”
Before launching the market, the organizing team posted criteria for participating, along with invitations to vendors to submit applications, on the Makers Market Facebook page.
“Our criteria are simple. We don’t choose many similar products. For example, the number of clothing designers might be limited to two or three,” Ma Kye Mon Lwin said.
She added, “The shops are not the same every month. It’s always changing.”
So, if you are a lover of handmade arts and crafts or interested in locally made products, the fifth Makers Market will be held on May 5 on Kantawgyi Myawsin Island in Yangon’s Karaweik Garden.
The Makers Market is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., so you can catch the amazing sunset while browsing a fine selection of locally made products.