Melissa Quijano - Simply Melissy

“Simpatica Melissa” was the first iteration of Simply Melissy, a name coined by my sister, Jessica (namesake of my first skirt design), for an 11th-grade Spanish Class project. My “business proposal” was, of course, a fashion boutique selling camisas and faldas. However, I didn’t go right into clothing- for years, I used my budding handmade brand name for jewelry, doll clothes, stuffed animals, dolls…

Aside from designing, I am also a fashion design teacher to kids ages 9 and up. The idea to transition Simply Melissy from a sort of hodge podge of crafty items to quirky children’s wear came from them. Kids, especially pre-teens, have a foot each in childhood and adulthood. They want to be grown up, but still appreciate quirky figures like unicorns and narwhals. They want to run around and climb trees, but still express their fashionable selves. This was the inspiration behind my summer and fall lines. I wanted to create clothes that girls could truly live in. Nothing restrictive, fabrics that are sturdy, well-constructed, and mostly easy to clean, and high levels of twirlability. Plus, I offer customization, so if a girl wants a longer or shorter skirt, or something entirely different, I am always 100% ready to make a girl’s fashion dreams come true.

I love to sew, and appreciate so much that my skill enables me to stay away from a traditional 9 to 5 job. One day, I want to see Simply Melissy garments sold in small boutiques and manufactured within a network of makers who are striving to become independent crafters themselves. I'm excited to work with Marketspace Vendor Events at the October 14th Woodbridge Center Mall event. I have never brought my designs to a shopping mall before, and I am eager to meet a new (to me!) type of customer. 

Waving Goodbye to Summer at Pinelands Crafts and Drafts

Special thanks to my team for their hard work!

Special thanks to my team for their hard work!

To set the stage for you, I first have to say that everyone in the crafting community is genuinely kind. You won't find a single soul who doesn't pour their heart into their craft and vibe of the event. We were fortunate enough to have 11 of these souls on our team last weekend. Add to it unique craft beers, a lively duo of bartenders, and a friendly local crowd. That's Pinelands Crafts and Drafts!

From community protector flags to comic book and pop culture merchandise to custom bar-ware and home décor to handmade soy candles, soaps, and all-natural pain management, our vendors offered something for everyone. What stood out most for me was that Thin Line US exemplified the very essence of small business as Officer Nagy's parents and children proudly wore their team shirts and literally built their display on-site. Reese of Empress Herbal Products not only invited a steady stream of customers to her table with welcoming scents, but her calming and educational dialogue about her craft. The warm energy she had after traveling all the way from Philly was incredibly refreshing. I also fondly recall two young women adorned with flower crowns captivated by August Snow's intricate fairy scenes and Sensations Le Soleil's aromatic soap display. To say I wanted to buy one of everything myself is no exaggeration!

For a little added fun factor we challenged customers to meet our vendors with stamp cards in hand. Those with a full stamp card were entered to win a Pinelands Brewing Company t-shirt and growler with their choice of fill. We excitedly brought in the How You Brewin' cold brew and nitro coffee Jeep (tap handles on the side of a Jeep, you guys!) as well as gourmet hot dogs from PJ Dog House. I'm still salivating.

As the day came to a close, we counted it a success. Our marketing efforts via radio, print, and social media and careful selection of vendors leading up to the event brought 200 new faces in front of our 11 crafters. With three other festivals in the area and the most perfect beach weather, it felt good to be a part of “local summer” before we welcome the chilly fall weather at our next Crafts and Drafts at River Horse Brewing Company.

Melissa Nagy - ThinLineUS

Hi, my name is Melissa. ThinLineUS was created with the idea that when all HEROES come together as one, WE can achieve a positive impact on the great citizens of our communities. I am a proud female Police Officer in New Jersey and have served my community for over twenty years. I believe, with the teamwork and intelligence offered by all community first responders, along with those within the protective service professions, together WE can maintain a safe environment.  

Each stripe on the ThinLine represents a particular figure in our community. For instance, the thin "blue" line graphic indicates the following: the top black line represents the community while the bottom black line represents the ones who create fear and disorder within a community. The thin "blue" line represents the law enforcement officer(s) that stand between "good vs. evil" and protect our citizens from the situations which put them in harms way. The ThinLine is intended for all protective service professions with the same community safety mindset. When one of our community HEROES is killed in the line of duty, WE proudly wear the thin line "colors" with honor and respect for our fallen brothers and sisters. 

Please know that at least 20% of the proceeds will benefit the families of fallen HEROES through various charities associated with their immediate families.  ThinLineUS supports our community protectors:

Law Enforcement - BLUE LINE
Fire Fighters - RED LINE
Federal Agent / Military - GREEN LINE
Corrections - SILVER LINE
Dispatch - GOLD LINE
Search and Rescue - ORANGE LINE
Security Officers - YELLOW LINE
Wounded Warrior - BLACK w/ WHITE LINE

Kira Occhipinti - August Snow

Hey, I’m Kira, creator and owner of August Snow- a small business of décor made from air plants and driftwood. August Snow started 3 years ago focusing mainly on jewelry, but has slowly shifted into home décor as my obsession with air plants took over my home. 

My love for air plants started when I was working for Macy’s creating their Herald Square window displays. We used air plants in the Flower Show windows, and I was amazed by them. No dirt needed, minimal water, filtered sunlight and they’re really hard to kill. What?? My brown thumb perked up with this one. I am so bad with plants that I’m pretty sure every plant in Home Depot shudders when they see me coming, knowing I’m an instant death wish! But the air plants, they’re Kira-proof. The driftwood fascination started later when I began volunteering at beach cleanups in Jersey. As I picked up bottles and candy wrappers, I took notice of all the interesting gnarled driftwood. I started a collection at the cleanups, and later at any beach I traveled to like Kiawah in South Carolina and various beaches on a trip to Washington. My collection grew fast and it took a while for me to put two and two together (quite literally!) but when I did, mixing the driftwood and air plants together, August Snow was reborn. 

I don’t say this to be cliché or generic, but I truly take pride in making each air plant and driftwood piece one of a kind. I spend a lot of time deciding which ones are tabletops or wall hanging, which is best suited for a pen stand, picture holder, note paper slot, heart accent, or just a place for the air plants. It’s fun working through the unique characteristics of each piece of driftwood and making it even more special. My favorite piece has a perfect mother-nature-created air plant rest (pictured above) with an added picture holder. I also love the ones with a pen holder, I have one of those on my desk at work with an air plant named Fizzgig. Clearly, air plants have taken over my home AND office. 

Thanks Marketspace community for letting me share my air plant love (read: obsession) with you! 

Scott DeCaro, Author - 'Taking the Plunge'

As I sit down to write this, I have to say I feel like I’ve taken a plunge – and just after Labor Day, no less!  Summer might be over, but in my mind that makes it the perfect time to take this specific plunge and get my feet wet.  I’ve been a writer for quite some time, but I haven’t done much to market myself or my work at all.  I’ve attended no events whatsoever, I haven’t created my own blog (and only contributed a handful of posts to other blogs), and I don’t even have a website yet.  I’ve always been more comfortable writing than actually promoting myself and though I don’t mind getting up in front of crowds I’ve never been one to shine a spotlight on myself or highlight my activities.  I have to admit, when I started writing I had this idea in mind that somehow I’d put a couple of Facebook posts out there, friends would share them, they’d go viral, and I wouldn’t have to worry about marketing myself.  Of course, that didn’t happen.  I’ve been looking for a way to market myself and my work, and found Marketspace Vendor Events to be a good starting point.  When I heard about their event at Woodbridge Center, I signed up as soon as the event became active on the website.

It took less than five minutes to go onto the website, register as a vendor, and finally to secure a spot at the event.  I spent another couple minutes this morning going over the contracts before signing them… and then it hit me that the event is about a month away and I’ve got a ton of work to do because of it.  Suddenly it’s become a catalyst for all those things I didn’t do in the past that I should’ve done – creating a website, maintaining a blog, and finding other events to market myself as an author.  There are things I need to do that I hadn’t even thought of – creating business cards, getting a table, and ordering more copies of my own work to sell.  Maybe that makes me a bad planner or a procrastinator, but I like to think it simply makes me human.  After all, I’m sure that I’m not the only one who needs a push to really get going on something that I should’ve done a long time ago.  Perhaps you need that same kind of push to really get started.

I know that some of you out there are sitting on your own abilities because you aren’t sure how to get started.  I am certain that some of you have wild ideas that you don’t even think of as potential businesses and that you haven’t done anything with them because you don’t know how.  Maybe you do make a product that you aren’t sure where to sell or you’ve got skills that you want to market and drum up business with.  Perhaps you’ve got all the skills in the world but you never really wanted to market yourself either and just need that little push in the right direction. Marketspace Vendor Events can be that push for you too!  If you’ve got no idea where to go to sell your products or even how to go about doing it, look no further.  You don’t have to know where to go, because Marketspace Vendor Events sets up those events in places you wouldn’t even think to go to sell your products.  The Crafts and Drafts events are good examples here.  Who would’ve thought you could go to a brewery to market and sell your crafts?  You can’t just walk into a brewery and do that – but Marketspace Vendor Events sets up the event and makes signing up a breeze!  Once you are signed up, you’ve got someone marketing the event that you’re going to be at, promoting it, and people will come to see you, specifically because you make a craft or have a product to sell.  That Woodbridge Center event I signed up for puts me in the middle of a mall selling my books just a couple months before Christmas!  What more could you ask for?

To sum it up, whether you’ve got some ideas about the business side of things or you just need that same kind of push that I did to really get yourself started, Marketspace Vendor Events will elevate your business to the next level.  And I can guarantee you if you sign up for an event unprepared and in need of that push to get you going like I did, once that moment of panic that you’ve got a whole lot to do in a short amount of time wears off, you will be ready to go and get started.  I know I am.