Robert Duffy and Kiesha Jenkins-Duffy want to show Queens residents that the borough is teeming with creative people who make everything from t-shirts to hot sauce.
The married couple from Astoria are collaborating with other “makers” as part of Queens Craft Brigade to organize a market on July 9, where about 15 vendors will sell their items at the VFW Hall at 31-35 41st St.
Duffy said he and his wife came up with the idea after starting their t-shirt company, Unified Queens, last year and realizing that “there is not a lot of opportunity for Queens makers to get together and sell their stuff in Queens.”
Many of the 16 vendors who signed on to sell their items are people who the duo have met since they started Unified Queens. They chose the VFW Hall because it has both an indoor and outdoor space and the owners are eager to connect with the community, Duffy said.
“We really want to raise awareness to the community that there’s many great people that could be your neighbor making amazing stuff,” he said. “This is really not anyone’s full time job when they make their things so they put their heart and soul in it.”
Vendors include SUDA, a South American-inspired apparel company that is launching a new summer line of shirts, Dovecote Collective, a Jackson Heights-based print-making duo that sells screen prints, tote bags and more with their imagery and Hellgate Farm, an organic farm based in Astoria that is selling its hot sauce. Christine Gibson from Queens Knits will also be selling her accessories, which include infinity scarves, cowls and items for babies, kids and adults.
T-shirts from Unified Queens will also be available. Designs include the diving board found at the Astoria pool, the Uni-sphere from the World’s Fair, Jamaica Minute Men, who fought in the revolutionary war with General Washington and more.
The duo will not run the market in August so that they can regroup after July 9 to discuss how to improve the event. They plan on organizing a market from September through December in the same location and then eventually expanding it to other Queens neighborhoods.
“The long term goal is to connect all of these makers and build a community to support each other to talk about best practices and really grow together,” Duffy said.
Hi-Fi Records will DJ the event and The Queens Kickshaw will be providing food. The market will run from noon to 5 p.m. and if local vendors are interested in selling their items, they can reach out to email@example.com.
Visit the Queens Craft Brigade website for a full list of vendors.