Cool Place Alert: Trillium Artisans
In my humble opinion, Trillium Artisans is one of the greatest nonprofits in town. They provide so much support to artists and crafters who are working to build small businesses. We're chatting today with Trillium's Artisan Coordinator, Claire Patoine.
So, tell us about Trillium Artisans. What is the goal of the organization? Trillium Artisans is a nonprofit organization that supports Portlands craftspeople by providing access to markets -- i.e. we help artisans sell their work through our retail store, website, and wholesale orders. We also provide one-on-one small business support and resources. Trillium Artisans products are made from 50% reclaimed or recycled material and are priced to pay the artisan a livable wage.
Will you tell us a bit about that wonderful retail store? We carry items that range from the refined to the hip and funky, such as womens accessories, garden art, and houseware items. We also make an effort to sell a variety crafted items that will appeal to budgets small and large.
What kinds of help does Trillium provide to craftspeople trying to build their businesses? We provide on-on-one support and advice. We have resources on writing business plans, and we organize monthly meetings that typically have guest speakers that share their knowledge. These meetings have covered topics such as product development, pricing, how to approach shops, blogging, and marketing. We also provide free access to merchant services -- i.e. credit card services. We also have our website and store, and we attend or organize events where we market our artisans wares. There is also a strong sense of support that our artisans provide to one another with information sharing and advice.
Can anyone become a Trillium Artisan? How do people go about joining you? Yes, anyone can apply to become a Trillium Artisan! The first step involves submitting your craft for product review. We have a form that folks can download on our website. (Look for the download product review form here link). Just print out the form, fill it out, and set up a time to meet with me, and bring along the product to be reviewed.
From there, our Product Review committee (made up of well-experienced volunteers) goes through our criteria to make sure the product is meeting our requirements. Some of these requirements are: the product must be created with at least 50% reclaimed or recycled material; it must be well made; it must be priced to pay the artisan a livable wage of at least $12.50 an hour; and it must be functional craft, (in other words, not two dimensional art.)
Once your product is accepted, youre a Trillium Artisan! This may sound daunting, but I always provide support in walking folks through the process and its always a learning opportunity for a potential artisan to experience.
What do you think is the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" Indeed a timeless question . I often discuss this idea with artisans and customers alike. The lines between art and craft often blur or are indistinguishable. However, I often view craft as having a functional or utilitarian purpose, such as a hand-carved wood bowl or a needlepoint felted scarf. Art, such as a two dimensional framed image, can be viewed in a far more subjective manner, while a handmade scarf meets a function of keeping you warm.
Of course the lines blur, especially when you talk about high-end craft and the world of collecting, but thats the great thing about art and craft -- there isnt necessarily a right or wrong answer but there is always more than one way of seeing and creating. Ah yes, crafting in a postmodern time!
What is your favorite creative spot in Portland? Besides my kitchen, I would say Trilliums "fabric room. We sell fabric samples and donated fabric at a $1 a pound. I believe this is one of Portland s best kept secrets. Whenever I feel frazzled from sitting at my computer, I take a quick break to check-out our fabric section to peruse for my next potential project and chat with customers!
Give a little click to our lovely sponsors: