Kristen Rask has long harbored a love of crafts, but she hasn’t always loved the holidays.
Before becoming president of Urban Craft Uprising (UCU), Seattle’s largest indie craft show, Rask owned Schmancy, a downtown gallery and boutique known for its quirky collectibles and designer toys. She soon found that owning and operating a small business in the heart of downtown made for a perennially hectic holiday season, and soon after accepting the position of president, Rask decided to devote her full energy to what was then a burgeoning biannual show.
That’s not to say that UCU’s 30-odd events per year don’t keep Rask busy. Urban Craft is expanding beyond craft shows—think partnering with Amazon for craft-centric team building events and Enchant Christmas, a pop up holiday extravaganza making its first appearance in Seattle this year.
We caught Rask in a rare spare moment to talk local art, the future of Urban Craft Uprising, and her restored appreciation for the gifting season.
In the city of Amazon where you can click a button and have something come to your house in an hour, I think there’s something to be said about shopping face to face with people and having conversations—that’s the best part of shopping hand-made. There are so many stories behind what people make and why they’ve chosen to make their products. Seattle is awesome because people are really supportive.
Gobble Up (Nov 17) is our first craft food event. We started it last year and it has its challenges, but I enjoy a challenge. The South Lake Union Winter Market is in its fourth year—it only has 16 vendors but they rotate each weekend and runs after Thanksgiving through Christmas. The Holiday Market at Westlake Park (Nov 23-25) presented by the Downtown Seattle Alliance, is in its third year. Each year, more people seem to remember where we are and do their holiday shopping at these small markets. And of course I love our Urban Craft Winter Show (Dec 1-2)— it’s just bananas.
If you don’t like crowds, I recommend going to the preview night. It feels more relaxed but it’s still fun. Otherwise, come later in the afternoon instead of the mornings. As far as large indie craft shows go, we’re quite small. It’s possible to go around twice to see what you want to buy and then go back to get it.
I used to not like the holidays because I worked in retail—by the time Christmas would actually happen I’d be burned out. I’ve tried to embrace it since I closed Schmancy. I’ll bake cookies with my niece, and I started getting a tree for the first time in my adult life, which definitely adds some coziness. And I try to get my holiday shopping all banged out at the Winter Show. I write out my list of whom I have to buy for and try to knock out as many people as I can there. Otherwise, I really like Lucca Great Finds (5332 Ballard Ave N) in Ballard. They have amazing ornaments, so my sister and I will go there and each buy an ornament every year. While we’re there, I’ll check off the rest of the people on my list.
I always want to support the local shops. Fancy (1914 Second Ave) has amazing jewelry. Velouria (145 S King St), Kobo (620 Jackson St; koboseattle.com), Momo (600 S Jackson St) and Paper Hammer (1400 Second Ave) all have an awesome selection of stuff. West Seattle has Virago (4537 California Ave SW) and Click! Design That Fits (4540 California Ave SW) that are both great, too.
The day-to-day at Urban Craft is never the same—it’s why I love my job.
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