by Tim Aceves
This past August, with the cancellation of Fiesta festivities in De la Guerra Plaza – Casa de la Guerra’s courtyard was full of papel picado as the Mujeres Makers Market led a two-day vendor market. The community market featured women of color creatives selling or curating original handmade, vintage, or reproduced items such as jewelry, clothing, home décor, ceramics, plants, and much more.
This Sunday, November 7, El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park will host the Mujeres Makers Market once more. Celebrating Día de los Muertos, the market will take place on the parade grounds and in the orchard at El Presidio SHP from 10AM – 4PM. SBTHP will be sponsoring free arts and crafts tables, including skeleton puppet, papel picado, paper masks, and marigolds – and El Presidio SHP will be free to the public all-day.
In anticipation, we interviewed founders Daniela Aguirre, Maritza Flores, Elysia Guillén, Lilli Muñoz, and Leah Ortega; their Q&A is below >>
For those who aren’t familiar with Mujeres Makers Market – what should they expect when they visit El Presidio SHP on November 7?
Our community organization is focused on creating a space where women of color can come together and celebrate each other, and really form a community. In the spirit of taking care of one another, this family-friendly open-air event will feature a DJ, photo booth, La Catrina contest, altars (ofrendas), food truck and kid-friendly workshops. Guests will experience, hear and learn about the traditions of Día de los Muertos and are invited to contribute to the community altar by bringing a photocopy of their loved ones.
It has been quite the year, what are some of your favorite memories from the past year of markets?
There are countless favorite memories, but it would be our first Mujeres Makers Market event, it was a big hit! Our family, friends, colleagues and community (even pets) showed up, it was constantly busy throughout the day. We had over 120 applicants, most of our vendors sold out before noon, and for many vendors it was their first time participating at a market. This is when we knew that there was a need in our community. The location was perfect as most of us (co-founders) grew up in the Eastside neighborhood and this space held a soft spot for us. We were constantly thrilled to meet locals from the community who welcomed us with open arms – it felt like we were part of a rich, evolving tradition. And we’re excited that we grew that tradition.
This past August at Casa de la Guerra it was hard not to feel the Fiesta spirit – what can patrons expect from this upcoming market?
Día de los Muertos is a deeply personal, significant occasion, one in which families of Mexican heritage come together to rejoice in the belief that death is a natural part of life, and that relatives who have died are not truly gone. We envision our upcoming event as an honorable remembrance, bringing our community together, and celebrating this beautiful tradition. To get into the spirit we will have…folk art activities centered on the building of a community altar to honor and celebrate the lives of deceased love ones. Everyone is encouraged to participate by bringing photos and memorabilia of those they wish to remember. Get ready to dance, shop, eat and see what all the magic is about.
Where’s the best place for people to find out more information about this market’s vendors?
We highlight our vendors on Mujeres Makers Market social channels, specifically Instagram and Facebook. A picture and bio of their business is included to promote these vendors. We tag their business on our post, this way you’ll know how to reach the vendor directly. We recently launched our website, where new and recurring vendors and shoppers can check out information on our upcoming events.
Looking forward towards 2022, do you see the market changing at all?
We look forward to evolving and growing, hosting workshops and raising money for local non-profit organizations that help underrepresented women. We hope to continue creating special events centered around International Women’s Day, Día de los Muertos and Las Posadas, among other events. We plan to collaborate with other organizations that align with our mission and values.
What have you learned from this past year?
We are a small and mighty team of five women. We are micro business owners, full-time employees and are involved in a million other things. But we are determined to make a difference in the community and provide a positive influence for the women of color leading by example. Developing this market has been so beautiful in so many ways, but owning a business is never smooth sailing all the time! We are firm believers that there is space for everyone to pursue their dreams and we will only ever rise by lifting others up. We’ve welcomed hundreds of talented WOC vendors from across the Central Coast (even as far as San Francisco and San Diego) to our public market events. Our Mujeres Makers Markets wouldn’t be successful without our vendors and shoppers, and support of our community. The silver lining of the pandemic was finally taking a pause and focusing on our creative outlets and passions. We are happy to provide a safe space for our vendors where they have a sense of inclusion, community and connection. And our shoppers are people that are craving cool and relevant shopping experiences while supporting small, local and WOC businesses.
If you could change one thing from the past year, what would it be?
We wouldn’t change anything as even our smallest mistakes we have learned from. We wish we had started this market sooner but it was needed at the right time.
SBTHP and the Mujeres Makers Market invite you to contribute to the community altar, located in the Presidio Chapel beginning November 4 (from 11 a.m to 4 p.m.). The Mujeres Makers Market will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on November 7 at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. El Presidio SHP will be free to the public that Sunday only; for more information about market and the vendors please visit their website >> mujeresmakersmarket.com
Tim Aceves is the Associate Director of Advancement for SBTHP.