Less than a block from the Caroll Street subway station is the Brooklyn Indie Market, a collection of colorful wooden booths and a large white tent that houses the wares of local up-and-coming designers. This setup is the physical embodiment of www.etsy.com, a Web site that allows the public to sell handmade designs, craft supplies, and vintage pieces. In fact, it is no surprise that many of the vendors at the market also sell on the Web site.
More upscale than a flea market, but also much more intimate and friendly than mass retailers such as Anthropologie, the market was created as an effort to foster artistic creativity, publicity, networking, and entrepreneurship amongst Brooklyn-based designers and crafty project addicts. The market also hosts a series of well received events throughout the year, such as the Holiday Handmade Cavalcade and the Steampunk fashion show.
For shoppers looking for unique quality pieces for less than $100, this market is the place to go. Costume-jewelry designer and illustrator Kelly M. Kotulak creates her mystic pieces using an eclectic combination of taxidermy eyes. “I get a lot of confused customers who think they’re real animal eyes, and then I have to explain myself,” Kotulak said. Although these esoteric-looking pieces are handmade, rings are only $26 and giant pendant necklaces are less than $60. “I love selling my jewelry here because the atmosphere is so welcoming, and it’s such a good way to get in touch with the community,” said Kotulak.
Amidst the vast array of jewelry vendors, small-product designers also set up shop here. Valaer Murray, a designer at the Message Mat—a company that makes $40 yoga mats and $25 tank tops printed with tongue-in-cheek messages such as “Kick Asana”—decided to start selling at the market in order to get more exposure and feedback from the local community. Prices are also cheaper at the market, as the yoga mats and tank tops sell for $45 and $30 online, respectively.
The market is a welcoming venue for new designers. “Today’s my first day here, so we’ll see how it goes,” said Colin Gentle, the designer behind ColinFrancis Design, a collection of leather goods created from both hand- and digital-fabrication techniques. Intricately laser-cut cuff bracelets are $45 and edgy chokers and necklaces are $50.
Other vendors at the market include lulu.s soap co.—selling delicious, fragrant soaps in whimsically named scents like “Salty Mariner” for $6 a bar—Bullfrog EATS—offering home-baked goods for less than $3 a piece—Salvage Decor—selling wooden mirrors and frames that have been reclaimed by the homeless of Cape Town, South Africa, in a job-creation program—and String Theory Yarns by Dana Bakalar—offering homespun yarns and ready-made neck warmers and hats for less than $40.
Though the market is an hour’s subway ride from Morningside Heights, it reveals itself to be a warm and friendly place to buy quality and low-priced goods from local designers, and more importantly, to engage in dialogue with the surrounding community. No need to worry about snotty sales associates here.
Brooklyn Indie Market, Smith and Union Streets, Caroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Saturdays, 11 a.m.- 7 p.m., Sundays, 11 a.m.- 6 p.m.