Men Of Craft– the article written out minus the parts not about elijah…
Online arts and crafts marketplace Etsy.com reports that out of hundreds of thousands of sellers, only four percent are men. Is the number really this low? I decided to see what things looked like on the ground. On October 3rd, I hit the streets of Washington, D.C. to attend the annual Crafty Bastards Arts & Craft Fair.
I was confident I could find some men to talk to among the crowded network of booths, but I quickly realized I possessed no talent for sniffing out men. I approached several booths that seemed manly-one sold prints and pins of U.S. presidents. I eagerly approached the man behind the table, but he directed me to his sister next to him. She was the crafty one, and he was just helping for the day. (… )
I left Claasen’s table to find Figs and Ginger, a jewelry company I’d heard about earlier. Reportedly, a man was involved with the operation.
“As a guy in the indie craft scene, I’m definitely a minority,” says Elijah Wyman, co-owner of Figs and Ginger. “As guy in the indie craft scene specifically selling jewelry, I’m in the vast minority, if that even makes sense.”
Wyman runs Figs and Ginger along with his wife Rhonda, and he’s experienced the perks of being a man in arts and crafts.
“We’ve noticed that I sell jewelry better than my wife, Rhonda, does, because I can give an honest compliment without any fear of it being strange or catty,” he says. “It totally works. Sometimes we have this superstition where if we’re not selling, we’ll just have Rhonda leave.”
Most of the men I talked to admitted that being a man in craft attracted extra attention to their businesses, but they also admitted holding down other jobs. Scott Robinson, a soap-maker from Bunny Butt Apothecary, gives private yoga lessons. And Nick Nocera, a t-shirt designer from Allison Rose, is an art teacher at an elementary school. Elijah Wyman and his wife Rhonda, though, are able to work full-time making eco-friendly jewelry.
“Both her and I work full time at this and this is our only living,” he says. “We pay our mortgage with this. We make a good middle-class living off of what we do.”
Wyman thinks there will be more men in arts and crafts soon, citing changes in popular culture. It is becoming more OK for men to pursue traditionally feminine crafts, like jewelry-making.
I never did find the “man booth” at Crafty Bastards, but I did find a few men, along with their female partners. Maybe in the world of arts and crafts, there’s a wrinkle to the old adage: Behind every woman is a strong man.