Flint Handmade stitches together a network of artist entrepreneurs

Crystal Pepperdine, the executive director of Flint Handmade, sits in a chair in one of her many “offices.” This one is a bustling Flint hot-spot filled with people, vendors, wares, food, and activity. 

 “Flint Handmade is an events-based organization, so my business/office is the entire community,” Pepperdine says. 

Today she is at the Flint Farmers Market talking about the work of Flint Handmade, which comes in all shapes, sizes, and styles in every imaginable medium. Flint Handmade is a nonprofit organization encouraging creative expression and artistic entrepreneurship in Flint and Genesee County. 

Here you can find knits and handcrafted glass ornaments. You can find jewelry and all types of trinkets. 

“At Flint Handmade, we believe that everyone is creative, and that everyone should have an opportunity to express themselves creatively, so that is why we provide those opportunities for people to use their hands and work with materials and express that part of their humanity,” Pepperdine says. “Creativity is one of the things that make people, people.”

Flint Handmade organizes two large indie craft markets every year, provides at least four craft supply swaps, offers educational craft workshops, hosts a summer art & craft street fair, and participates in a variety of community events. 

Pepperdine has called Flint’s eastside her home for 15 years. She is active in area nonprofits and  is one of those people who is always looking for ways to make a difference. The idea for a creative community like Flint Handmade came to her after attending several craft events in Detroit back in 2007. At the Detroit Urban craft fair, she met a couple from Davison who also wanted to be a part of a craft community—but there wasn’t one in Genesee County. At least, not yet.

At the time, Pepperdine was a part of a local collaborative called Creative Alliance, an organization of various artists and other creative individuals. It was there that she realized they could add a “crafters team.” 

“I saw a need in the community for other creative and like-minded people to have the opportunity to connect and work with each other,” Pepperdine says. 

In 2009, Flint Handmade became an independent organization, but Pepperdine said she remains appreciative of the Creative Alliance for being its incubator and helping in those first few formative years.

Members of Flint Handmade get the opportunity to show off their work through the nonprofit. Flint Handmade helps members promote and sell their work as well as offer classes for those who want to learn their crafts.

Flint Handmade also has coordinated unique events such as coloring parties at Tenacity Brewing and art shows at the Local Grocer.

“I want to impact and improve the quality of life for as many people as possible in Flint and Genesee County through these opportunities,” Pepperdine says. “People benefit from being able to express their creativity or support other local artisans and their small businesses.”

Flint Handmade events offer a sense of community and comradery among creative individuals. Crystal said. So their collective work and business efforts naturally bloom into wonderful friendships as well.

“Strong friendships and support networks build strong communities,” Pepperdine says.

For more information on business, networking or volunteer activities available through Flint Handmade, check out its website or look for upcoming events on its Facebook page.
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