Not country craft, but new, hip and modern, they are just ahead of the trends. They are the reason Etsy and other online shopping sites blew up in the past ten years. They can turn anything into art, and make everything wearable, they remind us of our roots, and don’t let us forget how to make things. From leather earrings to men’s aftershave. Old school is new again, and craft is art.
The only mystery for entrepreneur Brittany Bly was how to get her work out there and in 2012 she had an idea, which in my opinion gave an entire niche art form a home. She founded Pop Shop America, and this weekend, she brings together the culmination of all her ideas at the Pop Shop Summer Festival.
Pop Shop America includes curated events, DIY & craft workshops, an online boutique that showcases handmade & vintage fashion, art, and indie products. At this weekend’s indoor festival, Bly pulls all these elements together under one roof for her twice a year event.
Where are you from and did you study art?
I’ve lived in Houston since I was a little kid. Some say that makes me from here and other people would say no way! But I feel like a Houstonian. I went to UH and got my BA in Art History with a minor in studio. I was the only art history student that spent more time with painters than in the library. I was always interested in contemporary art, installation, alternative-folk art and performance and I’ve always been a maker myself. I use the concepts I studied then in my day to day work now. I’m one of those lucky people that’s actually using my art degree.
What came before Pop Shop America? Were you doing other shows etc? Why did you start Pop Shop America?
I hosted art events at galleries and had a fancy job hosting events at the MFAH. It wasn’t until I worked for a music festival that I had my a-ha moment with Pop Shop. I had an Etsy shop and knew I wanted to make things for a living but didn’t have a way to interact or meet new audiences in person. The only event was the original First Saturday Arts Market. But for us vintage, indie, cutesy products there wasn’t anything! So I just decided to do it myself. It was a leap of faith, to think that other people cared about shopping local and handmade goods. I’ve been exceedingly lucky to find that there’s a whole wide world of people who are interested in visual art beyond walls and healthy, clean, and locally made products.
Do see it expanding more?
As far as what’s next for us, we’ve been teaching really fun craft workshops at TX/RX Labs, a makerspace on the East End of Downtown. We’ve also been teaching a lot of workshops at the Houston Public Libraries. In 2016, I’ll be a part of Craftcation, a Maker Conference in California. We’re always writing more and adding new items to the online shop. Oh and we’re making more DIY Videos this summer!
What is your favorite thing about running shows?
I want to help other makers and small businesses succeed. I want to show Pop Shop attendees that DIY can be fun and that Houston has a vibrant community of visual art and design. I want to inspire people to be producers as well as consumers. And by running this festival, I get to be a part of something bigger than myself.
Pop Shop Houston will be at Silver Street Studios this weekend for the last event of the season. Pop Shop Summer Festival will feature over 90 Houston-based artists, small businesses and makers of unique design goods. In addition there will be a live mural by Up Art Studios, life size sculptures by Jon Clark, murals by Nicky Davis, open artist studios at Silver Street Studios, Dj Ceeplus Bad Knives, No Fun, and FREDster, and food tastings by local eateries like Whole Foods, Topo Chico, Pistolero’s, cool tech projects from TX/RX Labs, and DIYs by Pop Shop America.
And it’s free.
Silver Street Studios is at 2000 Edwards Street, Houston, TX 77007 get details at www.PopShopAmerica.com
Cohen is the founder and manager of First Saturday Arts Market. Contact him at ArtValet@gmail.com or visit him on the web at ArtValet.com.