When I met with Brooklyn Crafting Queen Brett Bara in her newly occupied sub-level HQ in Greenpoint Ave’s Pencil Factory studios, the space was empty and Brett was diligently working on her laptop, planning away, at a folding table near the space’s generous wall of windows. Despite its lack of stuff, the large venue was filled with Brett’s enthusiastic energy in anticipation of her soon to debut Brooklyn Craft Company.
Building off the success and following of Brett’s Brooklyn Craft Camp, which took place this past Spring at Lutheran Church of the Messiah, the home of Brooklyn Craft Company will offer crafty classes and events to Brooklynites on a regular basis.
Brett launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funding to fill out the space and launch Brooklyn Craft Company. I chatted with Brett about her crafting background and why she decided to open a craft business in Greenpoint.
GP: What is your professional / crafting background?
Brett: I grew up crafting and have memories of sewing and knitting while watching Sesame Street! After college, I moved to New York and started working in publishing, writing for lots of men’s and women’s magazines (including Details, Men’s Health, Marie Claire, Cosmo…) but I was always crafting on the side. I had a handbag design business during those years and I was also making wedding cakes. Finally one day I found out about a job opening as a crafts editor — I got the job, and that’s when my two main paths in life combined into one. Since then, I served as Editor in Chief of Crochet Today magazine for several years and became the host of a PBS tv show called Knit and Crochet Now. I’ve been self-employed for about three years now, doing a variety of media and publishing work in the crafts industry. I write a sewing 101 column for Design Sponge and collaborate with a lot of companies on anything and everything to do with DIY and crafts!
GP: What kind of audience are you trying to reach with Brooklyn Craft Company?
Brett: Our target audience is young people in the NYC area who want to flex their creative muscles. I am constantly hearing from people who maybe learned to knit when they were little but didn’t keep up with it, or have been dying to learn to sew their own clothes, or who really want to try printmaking or jewelrymaking or glitter art — but who just don’t know where to start, or don’t have the space in their apartments, or just never find the time to deal with it. We really hope to make it easier for people in that situation to add more craftiness to their lives. We all need more craftiness!
GP: What will the space offer to Greenpointers?
Brett: We’ll offer a regular schedule of small-scale classes in our new space (2-3 classes per week, on weeknights and weekends) as well as special events like craft book release parties, special workshops with visiting DIYers from around the country, etc. Our Craft Camp events, which are larger-scale full-day events, take place several times a year but are held off-site at larger event spaces. Our classes will run the gamut of almost anything you can make with your own two hands — from traditional crafts like knitting and sewing, to trendier topics like printmaking, jewelry making, terrariums, flower arranging, papercutting, holiday projects, cake decorating, mixology. We want to honor and continue traditional crafts while also responding to the DIY trends that come and go every season.
GP: You recently launched an Indigogo campaign – let’s talk perks…
Brett: We launched our Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to complete our final phase before we can open our doors for business. That means purchasing classroom furniture as well as storage systems for our supplies, purchasing tools and supplies for our students to use, upgrading our lighting, and decorating our space. Our goal is $15,000 and our deadline is August 30. We’ve got some great perks including discounts on classes, books by some of our teachers, Brooklyn Craft tote bags, and an e-book of projects from our whole team.
GP: Is there another Brooklyn Craft Camp in the pipeline?
Brett: Our first Brooklyn Craft Camp event was so much fun — it was held in March of this year. It was a full-day event, where attendees took four 90-minute classes on a range of subjects including embroidery, knitting, terrariums, papercutting, jewelry, crepe paper flowers, DIY nail art, and more. We also had delicious food made by Lisa Leonard-Lee, a private chef in Greenpoint, cocktails featuring Greenhook Gin (also made in Greenpoint), a DJ spinning vinyl, a photobooth, a pom-pom bar, and more. It was really, really fun AND we sold out and got a ton of great buzz including a write-up on the Martha Stewart blog. It was held in the hall of the Messiah Church on Russell Street, which has an amazing lost-in-time feel and was the perfect spot. For future Craft Camps we’re planning more of the same! This fall we’ve got one event planned for October and another for November — the November event will be all about handmade gifts.
GP: Why did you chose Greenpoint as opposed to Manhattan?
Brett: I live in Greenpoint, and I love it here, so there’s that! I never considered holding the event in Manhattan because to me, the creative community here is really based in Brooklyn. Almost all of the makers I know are here, and so many of our customers are here. Obviously, Brooklyn in an epicenter of the handmade movement, so it just made sense to do it here. Greenpoint specifically has such a great creative scene, and it just felt like an authentic location to showcase modern crafting.