FLINT, Michigan — Fifteen years ago, Crystal Pepperdine was a young artisan on a mission to expand creative, artistic opportunities in the Flint community. Now, the organization that started as a vision, is celebrating 15 years of impact and service.
“I started creating Flint Handmade after going to quite a few handcrafting events in the Detroit area and as I was there, I kept thinking to myself that Flint deserved something that awesome and that cool!”
Flint Handmade, founded in 2007, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging creativity and expanding the arts community of Flint. In the past 15 years, Flint Handmade has been dedicated to connecting with the Genesee area through community engagement and community service initiatives.
According to Pepperdine, “our organization is reaching over 10,000 people yearly and maintains at least 50 partnerships with local businesses, nonprofits and community centers in the Flint community.”
A vendor table awaits shoppers at Flint Handmade's Valentine's Craft Market event that took place on Feb. 5 at the Farmer's Market.
Since 2007, Flint Handmade has hosted more than events to expand the arts community and make the selling and purchasing of creative materials seamless. The organization has hosted several independent events, pop-up shops at grocery stores, farmer's markets, and cafes. Through hosting events, they are able to connect local artisans with buyers and increase their consumer base while offering fun activities.
“There’s a huge need for people to be able to enter welcoming, comfortable, safe environments, and have the opportunity to express their creativity without judgment, without shame, and without fear. And that is what we are able to provide because we have a very casual, non-intimidating pop nature,” said Pepperdine.
Community Engagement and Community Service
Craft markets are the largest events hosted by Flint Handmade across Genesee County. At these events, local artisans are able to showcase their art and small crafts as vendors.
As one of the strongly held values of the organization, Flint Handmade connects community engagement to the social consciousness of its brand. In response, the organization is taking a stand to ensure their pop-up events are reflective of the community demographics and at least 20% of artisans are people of color.
“We thought about different ways of supporting issues that are of importance to our community, both locally and nationally. And, you know, we felt the best way to do that was to support our local artisans of color and members of the queer community right here at home and support and amplify their voices,” said Pepperdine.
Batches of Flint Handmade totes.
Not only does Flint Handmade host events to showcase artisan work, but they also extend creativity through little to no cost community initiatives such as Coloring Parties and Yarn Brigades. The Coloring Parties encourage friends and families in the community to come out and bond through the creative process of shading in blank coloring pages
Similarly, in 2012, the Yarn Brigade
, a charitable, social crocheting group connects those with the love of knitting and crocheting to a group that creates clothing and blankets to donate.
Flint Handmade will be hosting monthly Coloring Parties at Tenacity Brewing from June to September 2022 with a new coloring page each month. To kick off the season, Flint Handmade is organizing a Virtual 5K to support their coloring parties as well as one of their local partners, Wellness and Flint Pride.
“This is a really great opportunity for us to engage in more outdoor activities to support all that our community has to offer,” said Pepperdine.
The Kickoff Coloring Party will be held on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, from 5-8 pm at Tenacity Brewing. The Virtual 5K will be available for the entire month of June. Participants will be encouraged to run or walk the trails adjacent to Tenacity Brewing (including those in Chevy Commons) during the Kickoff Coloring Party.
To learn more about Flint Handmade, visit: flinthandmade.org