little known fact: when i first began selling my wares, i was so in awe of (and slightly intimidated by) the incredibleness of the renegade team that it took more than 3 years before i worked up the courage to even apply to be a vendor at one of the renegade craft fairs or to consign my goods in their (amazing) shop in chicago. now that i've had the pleasure of vending at several renegade events + the honor of their shop carryinf my work for some time now, i've come to learn that behind the incredible renegade brand is just a few talented, dedicated, spectacular, sweet, normal people who love what they do.
i asked sue daly, the owner + lady who started it all, to answer a few questions about the renegade shop, so here we go:
What inspired you to set up shop?
I've wanted to have a store ever since I could remember! I love vintage shops, antique stores, novelty stores and all sorts of independent boutiques in general - and I always thought it would be fun to open my own.
When I was a kid, my mom used to take me shopping with her to little independent craft stores, gift stores and the like - so maybe that's where I got the bug initially. I always thought I'd open a vintage clothing store and so I would go thrifting all of the time and collected things for years with plans to eventually open up shop. I did this for probably two or three years, and looked at storefronts all the while too.
In the midst of all that, I was also actively crafting as a hobby and started the Renegade Craft Fair as a result of that. And so once that took off, the focus of the store evolved into opening a shop as an extension of the craft fair, where we could provide a permanent place for people to buy and sell handmade items. When we opened, we had a small selection of the vintage clothing we'd been collecting for years - but it all quickly sold out and we found ourselves needing more room to sell the handmade stuff because the shop was so small. So from then on, we strictly stuck to DIY craft items.
Today, we carry the work of over 300 independent crafters from all over the country and even abroad. We also use the store to host workshops with different artists, and have different people we work with decorate our store window installation style. So, it's been a lot of fun to make it part interactive like that too.
How long has the shop been open? (or a short history about your shop)
We find many of our artists through organizing the craft fairs. We also have an online application where people can apply to sell their things on the store. Sometimes we actively search people out online as well, and contact them directly. And we work with a handful of wholesalers that we've just picked-up over the years.
Our store is located in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, which is where the Renegade Craft Fair first took place back in the fall of 2003. It's a bustling neighborhood, that has always had an artsy vibe.
The store is always growing and changing, and provides us with the opportunity to work with artists from all corners of the world. We get to be one of the first people to see the new things people are making, which is exciting. We're always thinking of ways we can get artists involved with Renegade Handmade, whether it be a workshop, a small art show (as part of our 'spotlight series'), having them create a window installation, doing interviews and more. So we really love the interactive component to what we're doing.
We have a wonderful staff of five. I'm the owner/proprieter, Madelon Juliano is our general manager and does most of the buying/re-stocking, Sarah Spies is our online store guru and also does the bulk of our blogging, Ali Gibbons is the assistant manager of the store and works wonders on the store displays and merchandising to keep the store fresh, and Kevin Wilson is the newest addition to the team and spends his time charming customers on Saturdays.
a big thanks to sue + the renegade team for all they do for handmade artisans! come see girls can tell at renegade craft fair in austin, brooklyn + san francisco this summer! xo!