Erin Griffin

| April 10, 2012

When Carrboro native Erin Griffin realized that Carrboro, NC no longer had its own craft market, she took matters into her own hands and decided to do something about it.

The new Carrboro Craft Market, which will be held in downtown Carborro every 2nd Saturday of the month, is the brainchild of Carrboro native Erin Griffin. Griffin moved here from Asheville, NC with her long-time Chapel Hillian parents, Robert Griffin and Beth Cushman, when she was just 8 months-old. She grew up on Maple Avenue, right behind the Carrboro Fire Squad, and as a kid, she sold lemonade at the original Carrboro Farmers’ Market and often rode her bike with her sister over to the Andrew Riggsbee Hardware Store to hang out at the candy counter. Griffin attended Frank Porter Graham Elementary, Culbreth Junior High School and graduated from Chapel Hill High School in 1998.

Griffin then spent a few years building houses. Her favorite part of the home building process was the finishing work, so in 2002, she decided to return to school to study woodworking at Haywood Community College in Clyde, NC which is about 30 minutes west of Ashville, NC. Griffin had a natural talent for the craft and excelled in her studies there. “They have an amazing Professional Crafts Program where students can study Woodworking, Fiber Arts, Pottery and Jewelry. But everything I wanted to make had curves, which is really challenging in wood. All my teachers said that I should think about making jewelry instead, because I could do a lot more with it. So I went into jewelry afterwards. Now I love both mediums and want wood and metal in everything I do.”

XOXO Necklace by Erin Griffin

In 2008, Griffin moved to New York City and worked in a jewelry shop there. She learned enough about that trade after a year to move back home to Carrboro, NC and start her own jewelry-making business. New York City, specifically Brooklyn, NY, called her back once again in 2011, and while she was living there, the Brooklyn Flea Market became her favorite haunt. “I was inspired so much by the Brooklyn Flea. Everyone coming together to show off the cool things that they do, when even their neighbors didn’t know that they can do these things. I love that idea.”

In December of 2011, North Carolina pulled Griffin back home, as it often does. When she arrived, she wondered why there was no longer a craft market in Carrboro. There used to be a well-established one through the Carrboro Farmers’ Market that was also called the Carrboro Craft Market. Griffin started asking around town, talking to business owners downtown as well as local artists, and realized that there was a definite need for a regular craft market in the Carrboro Community. “There are so many hidden talents in this town that it seemed really relevant. Obviously, Carrboro supports the arts, so why don’t we have a craft market?”

In January of 2012, Griffin decided to take matters into her own hands and in just three months, her vision of the Carrboro Craft Market was born! “The idea for this market was to let it be a little more open, as far as accepting vendors. I wanted to let in the new with the old, bringing in the fresher ideas and keeping some of the traditional techniques.” This is a great market for established artists, as well as for those who are just starting out. Erin would like to support up-and-coming artists who might not yet be in galleries or high-end shops. “There aren’t many venues for people in the middle, who are producing crafts but are not yet established.” Nevertheless, there is a jury process in order to be accepted to be a vendor. Griffin selected artists not based on her own aesthetics, but rather on the quality of the pieces themselves. “To get in, you need a cohesive body of work. I wanted to represent people who are working really hard to get their vision out there to the world. Nothing mass produced is allowed.”

Griffin also wanted visitors to the market to learn a new skill or be inspired with a new idea that they can take with them. “The part that is really exciting is the education. All of the extra activities will make this market a bit different. The Skill Shares, Kid’s and Adult’s Craft Tables and Vendor Demonstrations make this more of an event, more interactive. I’d love it if people came to do an activity, instead of just to buy stuff. It’s more than shopping for crafts.”

Once Griffin defined her vision, bringing it to fruition was a challenge. In order to get this opening event off the ground in just three months’ time, she invested her own money for start-up costs like advertising and supplies for the Kid’s and Adult’s Craft Tables, and used her woodworking skills to build her own tables and signs. The Carrboro community, however, has been extremely supportive. Mike Benson, owner of The Station, offered to donate the space for the market. Market vendors and local businesses have donated twenty raffle prizes. Also, Griffin was successful in recruiting numerous volunteers to help during the Craft Market itself — her Mom being one of them, of course. She would love even more community involvement for the next market on May 12th. “I really want this to be a community event. I feel like it should be community driven, not just from one person.”

One of Griffin’s goals is that through the continuing support of the community, the Carrboro Craft Market will continue and grow to become a town staple. “Hopefully it will also help stimulate the local economy and bring people downtown and get more people in the restaurants and shops in Carrboro, NC.” She also loves the idea of possibly making it a weekly Saturday event, which would then create a Carrboro Farmers’ Market/Craft Market connection from both sides of Carrboro, creating a big walking path between the two. Another goal of Griffin’s is to use the Craft Market to help raise funds for local causes and public school programs.

There are many ways the community can get involved to assure the continuation of the Carrboro Craft Market. Griffin’s wish list includes people to help with marketing, fundraising, advertising sales, graphic/web design and volunteers on market day. Griffin is also accepting donated items for the raffle. Sponsors can donate online by visiting the Carrboro Craft Market web site:

The very first Carrboro Craft Market is on April 14, 2012 at The Station parking lot at 201 East Main Street in Carrboro, NC, and will be held every second Saturday of the month.

For more information about this wonderful event, click here to read The Chapel Hill Recorder article: “Carrboro Craft Market.”

Category: People

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