For hours, Chika Ando toils over a drawing where she first starts with a sketchbook, then moves to watercolour and finally Photoshop until her concept comes to life.

This is why every time Ando, owner of Chika Ando Illustrations, makes a sale it feels like a part of her is shared with each and every customer.

“This is like my diary. I get frustrated or whatever. I feel emotional, I put it out into my sketchbook and draw it and it comes alive,” says Ando.

Ando is one of many local artists taking part in Etsy Made in Canada: Calgary. This weekend, the annual event was hosted at the Calgary Genesis Centre, which transported over 4000 customers from the online world of creative entrepreneurs to the real-life display of over 100 vendors.

Though products ranged from homemade clothing, to housewares, paintings and even beautifully carved shaving brushes, they all had one thing in common: their creators are able to share their products on the popular shopping website, Etsy. 

Chika Ando’s table is covered in magnets and paintings declaring, “I love me the most,” and “Rock that bad hair day.” The characters are almost otherworldly, and draw in many shoppers. Photo by Justina Deardoff

Like Ando, this year marks Sarah Riedner’s third time at the Calgary event. Her Etsy shop Bubblegum Sass brandishes her handmade love catchers. A twist on the traditional dream catcher, which has a web that catches one’s dreams, the love catchers have a hand-stitched lace heart in the middle — to catch love.

Baby blues, bold pinks and sunshine yellows decorate the display that brightens up the otherwise grey building, forming a small piece of the backdrop to this high-energy gathering of Calgary entrepreneurs.

Riedner explains that she started out creating accessories for women like crochet cowl scarves, quilted purses and button coin purses; it was from here that her unique twist on dream catchers – the love catcher – came about.

“I became a mom four years ago, and that’s why I started doing the [children’s] dream catchers – for my son,” laughs Riedner, “and it caught on. My friends started asking and it spiralled from there.” 

Chika Ando laughs along as a customer points at an illustration that reads, “You have the power to change sad rain to happy rain.” Photo by Justina Deardoff

This year, 50 per cent of the proceeds gathered from the five-dollar entrance fee go towards Calgary’s Women’s Centre, which provides resources for women to recieve services around food, clothing, employment and professional development. 

“With the local shows, one thing I love about them is it’s not the sale you make at the actual show, but getting connected with people here in Calgary,” says Riedner.

“I get lots of people who come back online for custom orders and such. Once they see the person behind the product, they’re like, ‘Yes, I want to talk to you! I’ll get back to you when my baby’s born!’”

Etsy Made in Canada: Calgary started small in 2014, but has more than doubled in size. Etsy.com was founded in 2005 and it now holds 40 million items for sale, grossing an annual 2.93 billion in sales as of 2015. 

jdeardoff@cjournal.ca 

The editor responsible for this article is Natalie Holland and can be reached at nholland@cjournal.ca