Shoppers in Kodiak and beyond can now find locally made handicrafts on a new online directory that connects consumers to the island’s artists and craft makers.
The Makers of Kodiak website (makers.kodiakarts.org) was launched on Nov. 15 by the Kodiak Arts Council. The aim is to showcase local artists and offer community members an easy way to support them, as well as the stores that carry their creations.
The directory features a wide array of locally made artwork, jewelry, cards, essential oils and more. The council is still looking for artists to submit free applications to be showcased in the directory.
“My hope is that it can really support and empower local makers,” said Tasnah Bercy, who works as the project lead for Makers of Kodiak.
Restrictions put in place aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 have made it difficult for artists to connect with shoppers, she said. Summer cruise ships did not arrive, meaning that fewer tourists came to the island to buy local products. Bazaars and markets were also cancelled.
Bercy got the idea for the project when she saw Kodiak residents posting messages on Facebook expressing their desire to shop locally and asking where they could buy Kodiak-made products.
Bercy set about creating a simple website to connect artisans and potential buyers. Information on the site includes artist biographies, photos of artists and their creations, and links to shop for the items. There are also links to social media platforms and lists of stores where local artwork can be found.
Bercy, who is a watercolor artist, moved to Kodiak two years ago from Pennsylvania. When she arrived, she noticed how difficult it was to find information about bazaars, markets, and local artists and creators all in one place.
She said she hopes the Makers of Kodiak website will grow to become a resource for future bazaars and markets, as well as a way for artisans to connect with one another.
“I think there is a lot of good that can come from building this sense of connection and community among the artists and makers in Kodiak,” Bercy said.
Katie Oliver, the executive director of the Kodiak Arts Council, said the project is funded by the organization, so it is free for artists to sign up.
“It’s created to support artists in a challenging time. The arts council is supporting the directory financially so there is not a cost for artists at this time,” Oliver said, adding that anyone who identifies as a maker or artist can fill out an online application and get in touch with the arts council.
She said there has been a recent emphasis on buying locally in the community. For those who would like to support artists, Nov. 29 has been designated Artist Sunday, which is similar to Black Friday but for art.
“Artist Sunday ... is an initiative which is encouraging consumers to buy handcrafted, locally made unique items from an artist,” she said.