Hip Craft

A group of local women create a niche for edgy handmade wares

You won't find birdhouses or potholders at a Second Storie Indie Market. Instead, you'll find unique crafts with an edge.

The brainchild of five local female artists all 35 and younger (Cris Sasso, Karen Stocks, JoAnn McGranahan, Shanna Murray and Rachael Hetzel), Second Storie is a market for handmade items that don't fit the typical arts-and-crafts-show mold. Second Storie's works all share a similar aesthetic — kind of like Urban Outfitters meets Martha Stewart.

The items range from letterpress stationery to scarves and photographs to pins.

Both McGranahan and Stocks create wearable art — from handmade brooches to knit accessories — while Sasso focuses on small-scale paintings.

Hetzel, owner and designer of Pistachio Press, a handmade letterpress company that designs stationery, cards, invitations and even screen-printed onesies, has a master's degree in printmaking and started the business in 2007. Pistachio Press was featured in the September 2008 issue of Lucky Magazine and has seen success through local custom orders and Second Storie events, and nationally through etsy.com (where Hetzel has sold more than 800 items).

She actually taught Murray how to use a printing press after meeting her at the first Second Storie event, and that inspired Murray to start Hello Handmade Paperie.

“It's not about making money and hosting a craft show,” Murray says. “It's about the fact that we really want there to be a good market for handmade because it's important to us.”

Friends before Second Storie, Sasso, Stocks, McGranahan and Murray thought up the idea for the market on a whim. (Hetzel joined the group after participating as a vendor at the first Second Storie event.) “I just thought it would be the perfect opportunity to start one since there wasn't anything like it in Rochester,” Murray says.

By combining their talents, they created a niche for edgier local and national crafters looking for an alternative sales outlet.

Second Storie's first event, Indie Market, was held in September 2007 at the Visual Studies Workshop, 31 Prince St. In 2008, the group has hosted two more events, the most recent of which drew 27 vendors and close to 600 visitors.

Second Storie vendors also sold their arts and crafts at the South Wedge Farmers' Market through the 2008 season.

“Their ideals for their market are right in line with our ideals for our market, so it really is a wonderful pairing,” Stocks says.

They hope to continue the partnership next year, although likely will participate less frequently. “It may not be every week like it was, because it does get to be a lot (of work),” McGranahan says.

Fresh off the success of its latest indie market, Second Storie has established itself as the next generation of arts festivals in Rochester. “We're just trying to make Second Storie one of those go-to crafting events that people know will be successful, and we got a lot of great feedback from this last one, so it's definitely within our grasp,” Murray says.

Buffalo is next on Second Storie's list. The group plans to bring its indie market to the city this summer, with the help of fellow artists and past vendors, Nicole Lecht and Shelly Bronson. “I really see Buffalo as a really supportive arts community,” Hetzel says. “I think it's the perfect place for Second Storie to have a secondary place.”

Although the Second Storie founders hope to expand to even more cities, they don't want to let it get too big. “I think we have to keep it manageable and something that remains special,” Hetzel says. “I personally don't see it going too much further beyond that because it's a lot of work, and we really do want it to maintain its integrity and to be something really special.”

For the women of Second Storie, all the work they put into the market and their own personal projects is worth it.

“It's a labor of love,” McGranahan says.

“I'm working 12 to 15 hours a day on my business,” Hetzel says. “I think for most people who do this sort of thing, it's really their life. They eat and sleep and breathe what we're doing.”

Article copyright © 2009, Democrat & Chronicle.