By Jordan Yeager
CALGARY – Craft fairs are not just for your grandma anymore (but hey, she’s still invited). When Jenna Herbut and her brother Chandler started their modern take on the classic makers market, Make It!, in 2008, it was their goal to make craft fairs appealing to people from all walks of life – grandparents, 20-somethings, and grandchildren alike.
As a student in 2004, Herbut started her first business: Booty Beltz. Eventually, Booty Beltz — belts made of scarves with easy-to-wear fasteners — were sold in 120 stores across Canada, the United States and Japan. Herbut also peddled them at craft fairs around the country. It was at these markets that she noticed a trend.
“The fairs were quite traditional, the customers were a bit older, and I was in my 20s,” says Herbut. “So I thought if the vibe was different – if the marketing was fresh and appealed to people my own age – you would get a whole different demographic coming in.”
Herbut decided to go for it and put on a small market in Edmonton. Ten years later, the creator-driven exhibition has grown from 25 booths to more than 215 vendors selling their wares at the bi-annual shows that take place in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. Herbut has been at the helm of it all, eventually letting Booty Beltz “die a slow death” as she focused instead on the Make It! project, which was “a bigger adventure.”
“With business, sometimes people fail because they’re playing too small,” she says. “It’s no different than a breakup. You fall in love, you open your heart, you give yourself to something, and sometimes it doesn’t work out. But you grieve it, you mourn it, and then you move on.”
For any up-and-coming creators or entrepreneurs who have the energy but aren’t sure exactly where to channel it, Herbut has written a book called, appropriately, “Make It Happen.” The book is essentially a guide for people who were in her position all those years ago: people navigating the business world for the first time who “have no idea what the hell” they’re doing. She’s noticed a trend in young creators who may hold back from pursuing their goals for fear, both of failure and of success.
Jenna Herbut will be selling copies of her book at each upcoming Make It! Market. Catch her in Calgary Dec. 6-9 at Deerfoot City 901- 64 Ave. NE.DIY, Jenna Herbut, Make it Happen, make it!