When is a market not just a market?

I love the local creative industry.

I couldn’t think of a more emphatic way to make that statement loud and clear. I am absolutely and completely impressed and enamoured by the talent we have residing here in Trinidad & Tobago. It is a discovery I made by cutting my own way through the overgrown mass produced merchandise and convenient online retail outlets in order to arrive at this oasis that has been the local arts and design market.

I would hate to see it disappear under the weight of financial burdens, the practicality of feasibility winning out over the pure joy of creating and consuming. No individual with an ear to ground on the local fashion/design/arts industry could tell you any differently: it isn’t being supported the way it should be. Not by the general public, not by the government and not by the artisans and designers themselves, it’s sad to say.

There is a market however, the brainchild of one Ms. Jacqueline Charles – owner and designer of Koko Karibi Designs – that is meant to change all of that. The Monthly Arts Market, formerly known as the Woodbrook Arts Market, was created out of the need for a forum in which artists, designers, craftsmen and artisans could come together and engage with stakeholders at all levels of the industry. She partnered with friend, Lesley-Ann Noel, proprietor of the then popular Chic Shack in Belmont in 2010 and bought the dream to fruition.

The Monthly Arts Market

Jacqueline emphasized that The Monthly Arts Market is not just an avenue for artisans and designs to sell their products; that fact is what sets The Monthly Arts Market apart from most other markets. The larger objective is to create an environment in which sellers have an opportunity to network, to market their products to potential retailers and to create relationships with the people that provide the base materials that are used to create the end product. The goal here seems to be sustainable development of the creative industry, and when Jacqueline speaks of her plans for the Market, she often mentions the goal of taking the Market abroad.

Jacqueline and the rest of The Monthly Arts Market board make every effort to ensure that sellers that are invited to the event are selling high quality, one of a kind items with real potential to be marketed internationally as well as locally.

“We try not to tell anyone no. We won’t outright refuse to have someone at the Market. If an artisan or designer approaches us and we feel that their work is not yet ready for display at the Market, we work with them to get it to the standard that we feel it should be.  The objective is to encourage the artists.” Jacqueline explained. The standard is kept high for an obvious reason.

‘We recently partnered with the Small Tourism Accommodation Owners of Trinidad & Tobago (STOATT) in order to ensure more viable opportunities for our members to market themselves. So for example, if STOATT has tourists coming in from abroad, they will bring them to the Market, or they may order merchandise from a particular seller to give as tokens. It’s a fantastic alliance and I’m always looking out for more partnerships of that nature.’

She remained mostly tight-lipped about it, but told me to keep an eye out for the launch of the Association of Caribbean Accessory Designers (ACAD) in January of 2013. Hinting at a partnership with a major international jewellery company, she spoke of potential workshops and forums aimed at educating and informing artists, designers and craftsmen on issues like proper Business Management and International Marketing.

The next installment of The Monthly Arts Market seems poised to be one of the biggest and most impressive in terms of the quality and range of artists being invited to participate. Jacqueline –via the Facebook page for the Event – has been featuring “Artists of the Day” in an effort to acquaint persons beforehand with the incredible wares and services that will be featured on the day.

 Michelle Joachim

Michelle Joachim is a fine artist with myriad skills who is constantly exploring and developing new areas of art.

Past and Present Woodbrook

Master Craftsman Chilion Stewart, of Past and Present Woodwork. His company designs and creates high quality wooden products, and performs restorations on antiques as well.

Koko Karibi Designs

Koko Karibi by Jacqueline Charles is a contemporary jewellery & accessories design studio. They produce one of a kind, unique hand crafted or limited edition designs.

Mehendi Guru 

Fine Artist Richard S Rampersad, is the talented Mehindi Guru. His love of the traditional Hindu art of body painting is reflective in many of his fine art pieces as well.

Patricia Granum

Patricia Granum is an Accessories/Textile Designer, who works in batique/silk painting techniques to produce beautiful one of a kind pieces.

These are, of course, just a few of the artists and craftsmen who are on board for the October Market. I think it’s pretty understandable why I’m genuinely excited for this installment of The Monthly Arts Market; there’s never been quite such a buzz about it and I think this Market will signal the start of great things to come for the creative industry. It also helps that it’s three days before my birthday so I can totally justify picking up one or two things for myself 🙂 I have my eye on a Patricia Granum scarf (since I’ve recently decided I’m going to rock a turban before the end of the year) and of course something from my favourite: Koko Karibi Designs. See below for all the basic info on the event and I hope to see everyone there!

Date: Sunday 7th October, 2012

Time: 9:00AM – 6:00PM

Venue: #27 Jerningham Avenue, Belmont

Official Facebook Page – The Monthly Arts Market

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