I was a first-time vendor at the Made in Montana trade show in Helena this year. It was a beautifully diverse cross-section of our state condensed into one large room at the Lewis and Clark Fairgrounds. Montana inspired every maker there in some way, and the care, creativity, and attention to detail resulted in a wide variety of amazing products.
Made in Montana was also the most enjoyable show I have ever participated in. There was a familiar sense of community from my neighboring vendors, wholesale buyers, and customers that felt like Montana at its very best- friendly, helpful, welcoming, and supportive.
The first day of the show gave exhibitors the opportunity to meet with small business owners, and wholesale buyers from all over the state, looking to supply their customers with Montana-made items. There are many benefits to building connections with local makers. It reduces shipping costs, and environmental impact, as well as directly contributing to the stability and growth of local economies.
Stores that choose to stock Montana-made items are supplying their customers with a wide range of products that are unique to our area. Shoppers may buy a gift for someone, and send a little piece of “Big Sky Country” to another part of the world.
Supporting Montana makers also means that you're supporting people in your community who have taken an idea, and turned it into a business. I appreciate every person who has ever shopped with me or supported my efforts as an artist. There are many other Montanans, just like me- who are perfecting the details of handmade designs, building a dream, and persisting- no matter what. It's what we love, and it's what we are meant to do.
You don’t have to go out of state to buy art, soap, chocolate, jewelry, textiles, leatherwork or pottery. People in our state make it all, and a lot more. We deserve the business. Our economy does too. Shop with any of us. And share our work with other people. Just by doing that, you help build small businesses, create jobs, and strengthen our communities.
Here is a link for my own little list of Montana Makers if you need some inspiration. A few are my neighbors from the trade show. And a few are some talented gals that I’ve met along the way.. Or take a look at Made in Montana's searchable database of program participants here.
Thanks for stopping by!