Taking DIY to the next level

Brianne Sheppard (left) and Callie Duncan (right) in their collective space located in Dallas. | PHOTO SPIN
Andrea, owner of Mountain Stitch Design Co., helps to complete the stitches. | PHOTO SPIN

It’s a cozy Saturday morning and I’m enjoying a freshly pressed coffee and a delish toffee-pecan cookie. But instead of lazing at home, I’m in a bright and welcoming space about to learn a new skill, crochet. Or maybe I should say attempt to learn.

Andrea Mcloed Heath, owner of Mountain Stitch Design and supplier of my favourite toques, is practising her patience and teaching us how to create our own headbands.
It’s all part of a new initiative by two creative Kamloops entrepreneurs called Makeshift, a business geared towards hosted and styled DIY and craft workshops.

Brianne Sheppard and Callie Duncan partnered and have begun to build a community of “like-minded makers” from their base in Dallas, an eastern area of Kamloops.

“We don’t want people to feel intimidated that they aren’t creative or that they don’t like projects. It’s all just about making things that aren’t perfect, having fun and meeting new people,” said Sheppard.

The workshops allow people to try something they’re interested in without investing a lot of money in equipment, supplies or classes.

“A lot of what we’re doing are skills-based crafts, so it’s not something that you’re gonna be perfect at the first time. Our goal is to support people as they learn new projects, with drop-in craft nights and sending out resource guides and being there to support you in your new hobby.”

The second business is their space known as The Collective. It does double, or even triple, duty as an event venue, retail location and artistic studio. Currently, two photographers use it as studio space and it can also be rented by the hour or the day.

Monthly pop up shops provide artisans with a place to sell their creations, bringing together a carefully curated mix of local artists. Instead of a traditional retail space, the pieces are part of a styled installation.

“It doesn’t feel like a store; it’s more like the objects are part of a display,” said Sheppard.
The collaborative approach is a direct response to high priced retail space, and is similar to the trend of co-working and co-office spaces.

“We need the space to work for a lot of different people. We want to collaborate… If we get into a position where we are working with other people, then it has benefits for everyone,” said Sheppard.

The duo relies heavily on social media to identify and connect with other artists in
the region.

“There are so many people doing cool things in Kamloops, but they can be hard to find…We’re hoping to bring everyone together so we can support each other. Instagram is our biggest way of finding and attracting people, because it’s such a visual platform.”
Their business also capitalizes on people turning away from mass manufactured products and placing a higher value on one-of-a-kind or local products.

“Why not have something handmade, or well-made or locally-made?” said Sheppard.
Popular apps like Pinterest and DarbySmart are fueling inspiration, prompting people to pick up hobbies that their grandparents may have practised but weren’t passed down.
As the gathering comes to an end, a few star pupils leave with completed headbands, but we all promise to drop into a future hosted “stitch and bitch” to keep working, or watch the tutorial videos they’ll send.

My headband is a few sad stitched rows after a few start-overs, but I feel like I have a solid grasp of the basics. Plus, I’ve met a group of new, creative folks to help with projects in the future, which is really Sheppard’s goal.

“To me, Makeshift is more about the socializing and meeting people. I’m definitely the person who goes home with a wonky headband because I’ve spent so much time talking. But to me, art and being creative is more about the process than the end result.”
For more information go to www.makeshiftkamloops.com or follow @_makeshift on Instagram.

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