Written by Dumay Solinggay
What makes a creative event successful?
There’s an ineffable vibe that organizers of events consciously or unconsciously create. This “feel” is usually an immaterial product of the vision of the organizer. A “feel-good” event is something every organizer or audience look for. And more than the logistics, the number of attendees, the system of scheduling – is the “vibe” which can save the event if everything fails.
The recent Third Baguio Craft Fair proved to be one of the events on top of my favorites. The organizer, Candy Reyes-Alipio, was able to gather creatives and everyone formed a unique vibe in a yard of an old Baguio house in Leonard Wood Road.
I would put the vibe as light and easy-going but everywhere you go to there is something handmade surprisingly delightful to discover. From the miniature embroidery badges of Joyce Mallare, to the pots haired with succulents of Bo, the organic soaps of Amparo, the dolls of Dolldalita, local books from Mount Cloud, the indigo dyed weavings from Penarubia in Abra, the handmade Japanese Papers of Asao Shimura, knitting materials, acrylic and oil paints, calligraphy pens, tapuey ice cream…..
How did Candy put all these together to create a “feel-good” atmosphere that everyone got a share of and are now looking forward to in the next event? Here is a short conversation I had with her that could shed light on how whole energy is processed.
It’s been three years. What kept you going?
I am also asking myself why I am doing this pa. Well every year the responses have been positive not only from people who come to buy and join but also from the vendors. I get encouraged by them.
From the first one in 2015, I only had 10 concessionaires. The second one I had around 20 to 22 and now we have 34. I turned down a lot of vendors because this is all I could fit. If anything though, I realized that there is more room to grow because there are more people wanting to join.
How do you curate?
I try to make it a mix and try to make one stall from the other different. There’s a few people that are the same and consistent because their products is something expected by the buyers already. But I also want to have new faces, new talents.
Baguio was declared a creative city. Did you reflect on that thing, and do you intend to be part of that vision?
Sure, why not! Luckily I was doing this before that even came. So when I saw it I said, “Oh perfect!” This is what we’ve been trying to promote – the local crafts, the local talents. So why not, if we can use that to do something bigger.
How did you start with Knitting Expedition?
That one I started siguro 2012. There’s actually a kickstarter fund of Ricefield Collective, a company based in the United States, and they were having the stuff knitted here. I saw them online and then I emailed them and said, “I’m a knitter and I’m interested to help”. They were so shocked they were probably thinking, “There’s a knitter in the Philippines?!”
After they had their run in Banaue, I helped them teach. I was helping teach the new patterns to the Ifugao knitters kasi I like naman traveling and being there. It worked out quite well. And when their project ended, a few months went by and the knitters themselves were asking me, “May iba ba pa bang work?” Nanghinayang naman ako because they were already skilled. They’re quite advanced knitters actually.
I talked to Ricefield, pinaalam ko if I can work with them. They offered me their brand Ricefield Collective but I thought that might be a bit too complicated. Yung sa Ricefield kasi imported lahat ng materials. We have to make do with the local materials that are here. That’s why we decided to use another name brand.
How did you start as knitter?
I have this thing kasi na every year I try to learn something new. Ever since I was a kid, my siblings and I were forced by our parents to do something productive during summer. I got used to that so when I got older naghahanap ako ng gagawin. Knitting was one of those. I have a friend na knitter and I asked her to teach me and she introduced me to “Stitch and Bitch” group. That was in 2005. Every Saturday we would knit in a coffee shop and that’s where I learned the basics. The rest I tried to learn the patterns online.
When I worked with Ricefield Collective I learned a lot more because I worked with experienced knitters and knitwear designers who area are quite famous in the knitting world.
What are your plans for next year’s event?
Next year (laughs). Hopefully! I am always hoping that it will get bigger. Sana nga this Creative City thing can support the event. Because my biggest challenge is always the venue kasi siyempre I want it to be big but also accessible and not so expensive. And I also want it to be outdoor to have the Baguio feel. Because if you put it indoors then it will be like anywhere. I mean if we put it let’s say in the Convention Center and you see the picture, or if you go inside parang it’s not different from any other place outside Baguio. If we find man something big mahal naman at mahirap mag-mount, but if we get a support from the Creative City then it will be good.
When I started this hindi naman ganun kalaking vision. It was just really something I wanted to do, and I wanted to discover local brands and local artists. Kasi feeling ko there’s really no place for me to shop. I don’t go to SM, but if you don’t go to SM where else do you buy? There’s no one place to look for. There’s Mt. Cloud, there’s few stores na kalat kalat. This is really a whole idea of getting everybody together in one place so that I could buy something (laughs). It started as a simple idea but it’s nice to see it growing and if it could take on a better vision then that would be good.