The Makers Keep was founded in Edmonton by Katrina Petryshyn with a goal of offering artists a place to sell their products in a “market life” environment. Katrina wanted customers to be able to shop great finds just like a market but also a place offering connection.
At The Makers Keep (TMK), you will experience a marketplace vibe in all three of the boutique locations. In addition to creating a welcoming, exciting and inclusive environment, TMK has done an exceptional job at building relationships with local vendors and artists to support handcrafted products. Their customers love shopping local and knowing the products are created by local artisans.
I was fortunate to be selected in spring 2020 to be represented in their shop as a new ceramic artist. I am grateful to have my handcrafted ceramics in their Kingsway mall boutique and have their support as a Canadian artist. At TMK, you can find my ceramic mugs, cups, trays, tripod dishes, small plates, and pinch bowls - happy shopping!
I decided to ask Katrina a few questions, so you as customers and followers have the opportunity to get to know them and Maker’s Keep a bit better, and understand why I chose to have my ceramics in their shop. Trust me you'll fall in love with their boutique and curated goods, once you've read this post.
Jenna: What inspired you to launch The Makers Keep?
Katrina: I was living in South Africa and I was in love with the fact that they celebrated local shopping in a big way. Corporate “big box" brands just don’t exist there. Collective type stores are everywhere and they're full of all kinds of things from makers all over the country. It was super inspiring to see people working together and the appreciation they have for handmade goods. I am a trained goldsmith and have my own jewellery business so this really resonated with me. I knew that when we got back home to Edmonton, I would open a collective shop!
Jenna: Where did you get the inspiration for the name ‘The Makers Keep’’ and what does it mean?
Katrina: I struggled with names for so long! I went from naming it Veer, Makers and Merchants, Local House….. It was fun but frustrating trying to think of something unique but also relevant to what I wanted the store to be. I wanted makers to be in the name because at the end of the day, the makers are everything to this business. With out all of them, we wouldn't have a business.
I just kept saying things out loud and one day I said The Makers Keep and it just sounded right. I come from an English family and had heard my Grandpa say keep in conversation and I knew that it referred to support and a stronghold. Like a fortress. I liked the idea of building a fortress for like -minded makers trying to find connection and opportunities for collaboration and support. It just fit. So The Makers Keep was born!
Jenna: Where do you discover the curated goods for your shop and talented artists?
Katrina: In the beginning I used to research every single brand that we worked with. I would send them a blurb about me and the store and invite them to be apart of it. With growth, I have many amazing vendors coming to me now. We have an online application and about twice a month I go through them. I use three main things to dictate if the brand would be a good fit for the store.
1: What they make and if we already have something similar in store. I don’t like to have more than a few brands in the same category in store at any one time. This does vary, but it helps keep things fresh and unique and gives every brand a chance to sell and make some mula!
2. The quality of the products. This is so important. Handmade goods can go two ways; they can be amazing and beautifully made or can be something that was made for the sake of making something. As much as I love peoples creativity, we only accept really great, quality goods!
3. The brand itself. If they tick the first two boxes, then I look at what the brand represents. Who they are, how they present themselves on social media…all that. This is important because they could have the coolest product but if their brands' morals don’t jive with ours, then we wont be working with them. Our customers are their customers so we need to make sure we have a good relationship.
Jenna: What are your biggest challenges of being a shop owner?
Katrina: I never intended to be an entrepreneur and own a shop (or 3 haha). So in truth, I face so many challenges daily. They’re just so many things that come into play when you have physical storefronts. Just having staff is crazy. I have the best staff and we are like a family but that comes with a lot of “therapy” sessions. I love to know what’s going on with my girls and life is messy so I get an ear full most days. It makes me feel more connected to them but it is a commitment. I don’t want to be a boss thats never around. I am committed to being there and present as much as I can!
Then theres the other stuff to take care of like, bills, insurance, rent, utilities, dealings with landlords, maintenance, more bills, upkeep, painting, fixing things,…..the list goes on. Oh and taxes! Corporate tax is super fun.
On a positive note, I learn something new everyday! It is a lot of hard work but I really do enjoy it all!
Jenna: What’s one success as an entrepreneur you are most proud of?
Katrina: Opening the business with a 1.5 year old and being newly pregnant! I didn't know I was pregnant at the time haha. It was crazy but I am so proud of doing what I love and making it happen all while being a mom. It's hard as fuck but it reminds me that I can do everything I want and being a bad ass mom is just a small part of who I am.
Jenna: As well as being a shop owner, you are also an artist. Can you share what artistic projects you're currently working on and how you've developed these skills?
Katrina: ooooo I love this. Like I mentioned earlier I am a goldsmith/silversmith by trade. I love designing and creating jewellery but I just don’t have the time to do this like I used to. I still make some stuff for the stores but right now I am in the process of designing and creating a TMK Collection! I want to make products that will be exclusive to our stores and be completely designed and made in house. Now, I certainly don’t know how to do it all so I am leaning on other makers for guidance or getting them to help in the process. I want to work with as many of our vendors in this collection as possible. I will never know everything so if someone is skilled in "card production” for example, I'm going to pick their brain! Its all about working together and guiding each other as much as we can! I'm hoping the collection will be full of useful, fun and giftable goods. Its been a long road and Covid delayed it but its coming together!
Jenna: What's the favorite part of your day?
Katrina: When my babysitter arrives :) haha Just kidding. I’m a night owl. I love it when the house is dark and quiet. Thats when I get most of my work done.
Quick Rapid Fire:
1) One word to describe life as an entrepreneur: Rewarding
2) One place you want to travel: India (specifically the town my Granny grew up in)
3) Salty snacks or sweet treats: Sweet!
4) Current song on repeat: Exile (Bon Iver & Taylor Swift)
5) Favorite holiday ritual: Late evening walks looking for Santa at Christmas time followed but a cuddle and hot chocolate. I did it growing up and I do it with my boys now 🥺 I’m not crying, you’re crying!
Make sure to check out The Makers Keep when you’re in Edmonton next - you can also shop The Makers Keep online, you're bound to find beautiful goods and gifts made in Canada by artists who love to create. Also, soon to be launched are beautifully curated holiday gift boxes.
Love + Market Treasures