Austin women build handmade businesses; Friends behind ‘A Handmade Christmas’  announce new venture

Published 4:01 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2017

So what is the Grey Minnow Market?

First of all, it has nothing to do with fish, necessarily.

A fish could show up in a piece of original art or a hand-crafted candle, although the creators of the market have not indicated that is coming.

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The Grey Minnow Market is something being formed by two Austin women who each own their own artisan business.  It has sprouted from the popular two-day Austin art and craft show, “A Handmade Christmas,” according to Kristy Rooney, who established the show five years ago. Artist Katie Stromlund, who has helped with the show from the beginning is a co-founder of the Grey Minnow Market.

Katie Stromlund

“It’s not just a market, but a vehicle for a lot of different things,” said Rooney in a Facebook video announcing its creation.

“All kinds of good things,” co-founder Katie added.

Those good things will roam as the market is not of the storefront variety. It’s presence will be felt in the network of art and craft shows throughout the state and it will have its own shows. The first event announced for the business was a “pop-up” market in Rooney’s backyard in September with a handful of craft vendors selling   wares such as knit hats, custom aprons, cloth gnome figures, candles, original paintings and hand-stitched pillows.

They were happy with how it turned out. Rooney called it a great showing.

Rooney, who works a full-time job with Austin Adult Learning, became a vendor herself making candles after she began organizing Austin’s “A Handmade Christmas” show. Stromlund has helped her over the show’s five-year tenure.

Another part of the Grey Minnow Market will be built on sharing  their experiences.

“That kind of came out of A Handmade Christmas,too,” Rooney said in an interview with the Daily Herald. “Now we’re really going to try to build up another company where we are taking our knowledge and experience and helping others with that.”

Pictured are examples of crafts sold at Grey Minnow Market’s first pop-up show in September at Rooney’s home. Photo provided

Their focus will be mentoring makers when it comes to the business of doing shows and also of bringing makers in contact with a larger community of makers.

“We’re going to do podcasts.  We’re going to do some online classes,” Rooney said. “Our focus really is other makers; kind of to  go beside them for education but also build community.

Stromland already had her art business when “A Handmade Christmas” began, and her paintings are popular, Rooney said.

Rooney joined the ranks of makers when she diceded to show her crafts at the Austin show.

It went so well that this year she has shown at more than a dozen shows, primarily in the Twin Cities.

“The neatest thing even for me personally is now I have a candle company  out of (‘A Handmade Christmas’),” she said. “Now we have another company where we’re going to do podcasts and classes to help other makers out.”

And what about the name?

It’s a nonsensical name that we just came up with. Rooney said. It doesn’t have any hidden meaning.

Pictured are examples of Grey Minnow Market co-founder Katie Stomlund’s paintings. Photo provided