Friday, 21 December 2012

Going Local- Where to go?

I have been a bad blogger! No, I did not abandon the blog. I've simply been busy studying for my final exams. I originally thought ahead and I had tons of posts in drafts/ started to write new posts as certain art events I enjoyed came up, but I just could not find the time to finish them. Thankfully Monday was my last exam. I am ecstatic about that because I can finally finish some of those posts AND I can now enjoy the Christmas season as well as my holidays before I have to return to school.

Now, sometime ago I saw the following photo circulating on Facebook about buying local.

The message resonates with me because there are so many talented individuals who create and sell amazing products in T&T. Why should we purchase products from international companies when we have people producing the same equivalent? We should be supporting our own economy and by extension the environment. (Save the environment by reducing shipping? )

Personally I know that it is difficult to sometimes to buy local, when stores are rarely stocked with local things, you have no clue as to where you can purchase the things you want or you are not a fan of the quality.
Most artists/ artisans do not operate out of a physical store. The exorbitant rental fees to have a store at the mall are enough of a deterrent. The few that do end up finding places to sell their work, end up charging highly priced goods that the average person i.e. me- student on a budget cannot afford.

So where do you go? Over the last few years, I've heard about monthly markets and to be quite honest I never paid much attention to them because I never expected much. When I was younger, I went to plant shows and expos with my parents so I thought they were all the same run of the mill kind of thing- Plants, bottled jam, pepper sauce, fudge and red mango (that I could buy at the parlor nearby to my home) in unattractive packaging. 

It was not until last year when I saw a local artist whose artwork I enjoyed, advertised an event called Bits and Pieces that I began to feel more receptive to the idea. Then earlier this year I was able to  attend the Mango Festival at the UWI Field Station.
It of course featured Mangoes and Mango byproducts, but it also featured the crafts of local small businesses. I was able to sample delicacies, admire beautifully made products as well as be thoroughly entertained by the live renditions of folk songs.

 Here are some photos of my purchases that day.

Juices and Chutney's from Mangos.
I bought a bottle for Mango smoothies and baking

Mango Spa Products

Rodco Home Essentials- An amazing company that makes amazing body products from natural sources. The classiest
by far of all that I saw that day. 

Isis Designs- Gorgeous hand crafted jewellry that caters to you. If anything goes wrong you can always contact the designer to repair it!
Marisha Williams Designs for lovely natural cards made of quality materials and Event Essentials- I loved their recycle paper, which was perfect for my crafting needs and were unique as they had designs stamped into them.
Extra points to both for being eco-friendly. 
What I loved about the Mango Festival was that I was able to meet the owners themselves. For instance, the kind owner of Rodco Home Products. I was able to speak with her about her company and what she offered, including beautifully packaged body washes, creams, body butters and soaps all made at her home. I always wondered about the process and after speaking with her I was told that I could perhaps in the future organise a tour. Something I would not mind paying for.

Some "markets"/ events to consider if you're looking to go local in the future:
1. The Ultimate Epicurean and Boutique Market

2. Bits and Pieces-A yearly event for Christmas shopping

3. Upmarket-A monthly food market also including local artists, etc

4. The Monthly Arts Market- Lookout for their Three Day Shopping Extravaganza starting from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd Dec.

5. dr!nk's December Art Sale at Dr!nk's Wine Bar- The premise for the artists is that if you have art to sell, you simply bring it in and sell your work. Also it's at a Wine Bar so you can expect good drinks and music as you peruse the art that you want to buy in a casual setting.

The lovely thing about all of these markets is that you find gems of items amongst the plethora of art, craft, jewellery and gourmet food items, AND you also learn about different services offered that you may need to use for your next gift-giving event. The admission is usually free to these markets and that's great as it helps make the events more accessible to the public. It's a plus for the small business owner as for a small fee they can set up their own booth and market their wares to the public while making a profit. It's a win-win situation for all those involved.

Anyway I urge everyone, if you have the option to buy a local product please do! Our local communities need our support to continue the amazing work that they are doing. As this is a topic dear to me, perhaps in my next post I'll write more about local gift options for Christmas.

Remember....Go Local!
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