There is no emotion quite like the satisfaction you feel when you make something with your own two hands. Jess Vermette and Jenna Hutcheson, the co-founders of the Ottawa Makers Market (OMM) are well acquainted with this feeling. They have been watching their own creation, the Ottawa Makers Market bloom and grow since its inception in December of 2014.  Both Jess and Jenna were attending Algonquin College for a Business Management and Entrepreneurship program when the idea of the Market was conceived.  At the time, the two women were focusing on another one of their business ideas – L’Orangerie – a floral design company. However, they also had a desire to enter into the local craft/artisan scene.  This inclination to get involved was easier thought of than acted upon according to Jess who said, “[The local markets] were either too infrequent (once or twice a year) or they were too expensive.” 

After discussing their problem regarding local markets with some of their fellow artisans, Jess and Jenna decided to help other young businesses facing the same issues as them by creating the Ottawa Makers Market.  Jess states that, “[The OMM] charges a subsidized vendor fee, making it a risk-free commitment for makers and entrepreneurs.” There is also a charitable component to the market as the entry fee charged to visitors is donated to various non-profits such as FOR PIVOTS SAKE, for which $1, 050 was raised at the June Makers Market event.  The July event, which will be held on Saturday the 11th at the Rideau Curling Club at 715 Cooper Street in Centretown, will be raising funds for Harmony House, a local women’s shelter.

Jenna is excited for the July Market because, “Now [Jess and I] know what to expect. We have also increased the number of vendors for this event, and introduced a bunch of new vendors.”  Both co-founders are working to keep the Market engaging and fresh by inviting in new talent whenever possible.  There are more than 45 vendors expected to attend the July event according to Jess who noted that when the OMM was reaching out to the local crafting community and gauging interest in the project, the response was, “Fantastic.” A complete list of vendors can be found at the official webpage of the Ottawa Makers Market.

The general Ottawa community has also been overwhelming for the two co-founders, as they both remarked on how over 600 people attended their first event back in June 2015.  The Makers Market is hoping to expand and grow so that it may continue acting as the ideal space for professional crafters and artisans to sells their wares.  What sets the Market apart from others in the area according to its founders is that it is, “Not your nana’s craft fair” – meaning that the people who flock to claim spots as vendors at the OMM have a serious and vested interest in their products.  There are no hobby crafters or part-time Etsy artists at the OMM, instead the Market is full of people who have created new and exciting businesses that are aiming to bring the idea of making something back to the forefront of society again.  The Market serves as a great reminder that despite the fact that somethings are indeed easier online nothing ever truly compares to placing that last flower into a bouquet for a wedding party or hammering that last nail into place for that rocking chair.

Both Jess and Jenna know and understand the value of good old-fashioned hard work – in addition to running the Ottawa’s Makers Market they also operate their floral design company, L’Orangerie, and each of them works another job on top of their business ventures.  Jenna is a full-time policy analyst for the Privy Council Office while Jess is a full-time server in the Byward Market.  However, the amount of work their commitments require does not appear to slow them down for one moment as each of them cites how important it is to encourage and support local businesses.  They hope that at some point in the future their entrepreneurial pursuits will take over as their full-time jobs. Jess and Jenna are certainly looking toward the future with high hopes – they already have plans to debut a Fall and Winter market this year after the last Summer OMM event on August 8th at 715 Cooper Street from 12-5pm.  Special plans for the Fall Market are apparently in the works but Jess and Jenna are keeping everything under wraps for awhile longer – all they would say is that everyone should keep an eye on Ottawa Makers Market for updates.