Monthly craft market expands at Crestview Community Center
By Wendy Victora Rudman
Syndi Sluka is a nurse but she is also an artist. Ask her what she creates, and she describes herself as a “diverse artist.”
“Anything I touch, I can do,” she said.
And after spending too much time on the road commuting to Pensacola and 30A and other destinations to sell her wares, she decided to start one closer to home.
Crestview Maker’s Market was born as a non-profit organization, with profits exceeding costs going to fund programs at Crestview High School. If students from a particular club help out in the market, they’ll earn community service hours and pitch their club in for a donation.
“Crestview Makers Market (CMM) is on a mission to restore American heritage of made-in-America items and help the citizens of our city,” reads its mission statement. “Good art and craftsmanship comes from talented people, not machines.”
The first market took place in December at the Crestview Community Center with 12 artists. The second will take place on January 17 and 18 at the center from 2:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and, at press time, already has 22 artists.
“I was looking around to find a place, do some research, put something on Facebook,” Sluka said of her first steps. “I took it on my own and it was very overwhelming, being a single mom and working full time.”
It got easier once she formed the board and a team of people pulled in the same direction. They charge vendors $30 for the two-day event, which she says is considerably less than what she’s paid in other marketplaces. Once they have reached 25 artists, the cost of renting the space is covered.
The aim is to hold the market twice a month and in 2023 to move it to weekends. The community center has been booked for most of 2022, she said. This month’s market falls on a Monday and Tuesday.
Artists include Angel, Sluka’s 15-year-old daughter, who makes gnomes, dreamcatchers, wooden trays and scented candles.
“I do pretty much everything, but I stick to what I’ve found that sells,” Angel said. “That’s what mom says to do.”
His mother charges him the same selling fees as everyone else, but Angel said fairs like this can be very profitable. She made $1,200 in four days last month, she said.
“My biggest sellers are gnomes and dreamcatchers for some reason,” she said. “I can make gnomes for any occasion. Last year I sold a lot of graduation gnomes and placed a custom order (for a wedding) of married couples gnomes.
Syndi said there was also an artist who worked in cement, selling paving stones and other works of art. Another vendor sews oven mitts and aprons.
A vendor grows herbs and sells products made with those herbs. The market has people making candles, soaps, T-shirts and tumblers.
A woman who last sold honey at the December market was one of the most popular sellers last month.
Syndi creates XS to XL size dog beds from refurbished and reclaimed wood products.
“Save the planet,” she said. “We can also customize your bed for your fur baby.”
The market is for Crestview vendors, with the first 25 spots reserved for locals. Items sold at the market must be handmade.