Words and photos by Eva Claire Schwartz
Sitting snuggly along Prince Avenue, in a light, exposed brick space, sits the sunny new Indie South storefront. Its interior, upon stepping inside, boasts exposed brick walls and a collection of handmade fares that would make anyone’s wallet beg to become lighter. A woman dressed in a Bohemian top and cuffed bracelets scrolls through a playlist until she settles on the perfect artist for such a space: Cat Stevens.
Having opened in August of this year, patrons will probably know the space as the old Double Dutch Press headquarters. Now its racks and shelves are filled with crafted goods, from vintage clothes to terrariums and wallhangings.
Owner and founder of the Indie Craft Fair, Serra Jaggar, had been on the hunt for a space for the past two and a half years. The Fair has grown substantially in its years since the fledgling market started in 2006, but a storefront seemed like the next step to Jagger.
“Working out of home was difficult to separate work and life,” explains Jaggar. “It fell into my lap. I knew it was serendipitous.”
Jaggar is no stranger to turning a craft into an independent business. Starting with a jewelry and handbag line, she had a boutique in 2002 when the handmade movement was still in a stage of infancy. But after a child and a separation, she needed consistency job-wise and ultimately closed up shop.
After being a part of multiple craft shows, the Indie South Fair seemed like an obvious next phase, especially since Jaggar admits she always liked uniting people.
The craft fair grew organically, sprouting on its own as she continued to get positive feedback and took note of patrons from bigger cities.
Now the fair travels all over the southeast, hitting crafting hubs such as Nashville, Tennessee and Asheville, North Carolina. There are still six markets a year in Athens, including the Eclectic Bazaar and Holiday Hooray (coming up December 3rd and 4th).
But it’s not just the fair that’s rewarding to Jaggar, who also started the Strange Magick Vintage line, which can be found here. She describes the most rewarding aspect of her job is watching people grow their businesses. Some vendors start out with the mindset of “my friend or my mom likes it, but I don’t know if anyone else will” and then their line resonates with others and it takes off, she explains.
“A lot of designers refine their craft and hone their skill through Indie South,” says Jagger.
While the Indie South Fair store has something for everyone, its main clientele would be an individual who isn’t focused on buying the latest thing. Rather the conscious shopper, one who is willing to invest, will find their wares here.
When asked about goals for this space, Jagger responses quickly.
“The goal is to create a place where the community feels they have a stake in it,” explains Jagger. “I am responsive to what Normaltown wants.”
The store is already in the works of starting handmade classes in order to build personal connections within the community. With the onslaught of social media, Jagger wants the store to connect with and introduce people to the things they wouldn’t otherwise see. She wants people to experience something in this space and leave feeling inspired, maybe even enough to pick up a natural dye or weaving kit and try something new.
“Art is not something on a white wall,” says Jagger. “Art is something human that we’ve been doing since the beginning of time.”
In hopes to get people in touch with their creativity, the Indie South Fair store hopes to offer a range of classes including sewing, indigo dyeing, weaving, and knitting.
Jaggar also hopes that the Indie South Fair validates the creatives living in Athens. She admits that a big motivation for starting the fair was giving validity to the “creative people doing creative things,” not just the Athens music scene. Even most musicians are also painters, creatives and makers who deserve recognition for their artistic maker side too.
While the next outdoor fair will be held December 3rd and 4th at 660 N. Chase St., Jaggar insists the storefront has helped spread awareness of the Indie South Fair. While she insists that the brick and mortar aspect of the store has made it more real to some, Jaggar has made a space that is undoutedbly a welcoming part of the Normaltown neighborhood.
“It’s all about trying to get people engaged,” she says. “I always liked to bring people together.”