Moving to Charlotte six years ago, I realized quickly that behind the shiny façade of the bank buildings uptown was an underground of stay-at-home creatives with big dreams.
With so many families uprooted from other cities and “We moved for my husband’s job” an oft-repeated phrase among moms I met, I stumbled onto a Wild West-style, varied and widespread cottage industry of what I call “mama makers.”
Primarily through Facebook groups, I learned of all types of start-up creatives at work — jewelry designers, painters, bakers, candle makers and crafters of all kinds. At in-home events and pop-ups held in hotel lobbies or outdoor venues (often cul-de-sacs in neighborhoods), these home-based creatives gather to offer their goods with little more than a folding table to showcase their offerings. These Makers have their own followers, so having the right mix of creatives to draw clientele is critical for these events.
But sales aren’t the only measure of success at pop-ups. These events often foster friendships that end up as collaborations. Of her small business journey, Amber Brown of Charlie on Park said, “The women-owned small businesses that surround me have blown me away with their support. We’ve got each other’s backs, and I am deeply grateful for those relationships.”
Here are three “Mama Makers” I admire. I’ve watched in awe as they‘ve transitioned their passion projects from personal crafting to successful businesses with beautiful and delicious results.
Amber Brown has been a stay-at-home mom for 13 years, but that didn’t deter her from launching her own jewelry business – Charlie on Park – five years ago.
Bringing her love of color and beadwork to her designs, this mom of three girls creates wearable art, from “mommy and me” bracelet sets with hand-stamped custom initials to hand-painted oyster shell necklaces, a collaboration with artist Amy Moffatt.
Brown also loves singing at her church, Covenant Presbyterian, in Dilworth.
“My design process includes learning/listening to worship music and prayer,” she said. “It’s been fun to watch my two loves join together in this way.”
WHAT’S NEW IN ‘22?
Brown is launching by the end of the month. In the meantime, find her at The Social Shop at 4219 Providence Road.
MORE ABOUT AMBER BROWN
Renata Komers brings the flavors of her native Brazil – as well as her experiences in Italy and New Orleans – to Charlotte through her bakery, Renata’s Kitchen.
Komers moved to Charlotte six years ago. She has loved baking since she was a young girl in Rio and dreamed of pursuing life as a baker full-time. She was working in the food supply business, but was struggling to balance the demands of her job with raising two girls. Her husband’s international travel schedule didn’t help.
Last year, in the middle of the pandemic, Komers was furloughed from her job – something she now sees as a “COVID blessing.” With time on her hands, Komers launched Renata’s Kitchen, working solely through mom-to-mom Facebook sites in Charlotte and word-of-mouth referrals. Full disclosure: I’ve ordered her vanilla strawberry buttercream cake so many times, she now calls it the “Erika” cake. Even better, Komers can tailor her delicacies to different dietary restrictions, including gluten- and dairy-free options.
After one of her specialty items, a New Orleans-style Kings Cake, was featured on WCCB Charlotte, her business really took off. “I truly believe that food is a product of love, and sharing that joy and love I have for baking with others is my dream come true,” said Komers.
WHAT’S NEW IN ‘22?
This year’s King Cake offerings include new specialty fillings including cream cheese and guava and cream cheese and apple butter. Check out her baked goods or pre-order your King Cake in time for the start of Mardi Gras on March 1 (or just because) on Facebook or on Instagram.
MORE ABOUT RENATA’S KITCHEN
KATIE RAPISARDO GRIFFITH
Katie Rapisardo Griffith or “KTRAPS” is a rare Charlotte native, as well as a surgical nurse by day.
With her three boys now in school, Griffith decided to devote more time to her passion for creating abstract art. Her colorful abstracts range from small desk acrylics to statement pieces that fill an entire wall.
Griffith has turned some of her favorite pieces into notecards, mugs, even towels so that her art can be accessible to anyone in small ways throughout the home.
“For me, inspiration comes in many forms,” said Griffith. “Color is my soul language. In creating my original works, my most fervent hope is that my pieces evoke feelings of joy and hope.”
Griffith has enjoyed the pop-up scene with other mama makers and has made many good friends through these events, even co-hosting events in her neighborhood.
WHAT’S NEW IN ‘22?
Griffith is excited to be creating a series of works that will be part of a permanent installation for Sharon Elementary as part of their annual fundraiser that students and faculty will enjoy for years to come.
MORE ABOUT KATIE GRIFFITH
If you know of a creative we should be following, please share it with us here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erika Ferrari Lopez is a Washington, D.C. native living in Charlotte. She’s a mother, wife and lover of food and words. Erika works on the advancement team at Charlotte Bilingual Preschool and is currently writing a children’s novel. You can find more of her writing on her website.
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