Spring is the perfect time for exploring open-air markets such as the Indie South Fair, which brought unique, handmade products to Columbia this weekend. Although this was the fair's first visit to South Carolina, it provided another opportunity for the local community to come together in what will hopefully become a tradition.
Serra Branyon, event coordinator and entrepreneur, created Indie South Fair in 2006 in Athens, Georgia.
“My inspiration came from being a vendor myself at events around the country. I started out with a tiny boutique selling my line of apparel and accessories as well as others' work in 2002," Branyon said. "As I traveled the country to events, I realized that Athens, Ga needed our own marketplace for artists, so I started Indie South Fair."
Branyon has since expanded Indie South Fair to other areas in the southeast and hopes to expand to states such as Alabama and North Carolina. The fair featured all kinds of small businesses and products, most of them local or from places close to South Carolina.
Some businesses participating in the Indie South Fair included Oak Leaf Pottery, Twenty Two West hand-woven jewelry, Roar Haus bags and Pale Blue Dot Soap Co. Products sold at the fair included handmade jewelry, lamps made from various household items and vintage clothing. Each company had its own unique brand, and the products sold at the Indie South Fair exhibited the authentic feel.
“I do weavings, and I try to do them a little differently from what you would traditionally see," said Mary Hamby, the artist behind Twenty Two West. "So I build them on reclaimed wood and I weave in pieces of pottery that I make and gild and then I use all responsibly sourced fibers. For the jewelry, I weave those all on a miniature loom and it incorporates the gold pottery as well, as a way to wear weaving.”
Besides the vendors selling their products, the Indie South Fair had food trucks, live music performances and a tintype portrait photographer.
The vendors at the Indie South Fair are a tight-knit group of creative entrepreneurs who promote and support each other. Many of the vendors travel with the Indie South Fair for multiple weekends, which shows how dedicated some of these business owners truly are.
Aimee Deeds of Pale Blue Dot Soap Co. is one of these business owners.
“We were doing this for a little while around Athens and some smaller town festivals and it wasn’t going so well, and then we did our first Indie South Fair and it was really great," Deeds said. "And we were like 'Oh, we found our people.' This is our tribe."