Indigenous Pop-Up Markets set up for spring

Culture Events Fashion

Check out the local Indigenous Pop-Up Markets at upcoming dates

Beadwork and event flyer, photos sourced from @indigenouspopupshopyyj on Instagram and by Jen Mucciolo.
Photos sourced from @indigenouspopupshopyyj on Instagram and by Jen Mucciolo.

The Indigenous Pop-Up Market is an event that started as a means of a mother helping her son, but quickly developed into a local attraction as a popular vendor fair. 

“Gratefully and humbly gathered on unceded, traditional Lekwungen territory,” the Indigenous Pop-Up Markets are a series of vendor fairs featuring Indigenous artists. Started by Jen Mucciolo, a beader and Indigenous artist, the markets have gained popularity among Victoria locals. 

“It started last spring and wow. Such a welcoming response from the community,” said Mucciolo. “Everyone has been able to do so well and shine with their art.” 

There have been eight Indigenous Pop-Up Markets thus far. After running several of their markets online due to the pandemic, the series of markets this spring are eagerly awaited. The first of the season took place on Saturday, March 26.

The Instagram page for the event advertises “Indigenous art, beaded earrings, cedar bark weaving, gemstone candles, paintings, gemstone jewelry, moccasins, intuitive tipi readings, botanicals, medicine bags, lanyards, and more!” 

Mucciolo started running the markets to give her son a venue in which to sell his art. In his early twenties, and incredibly talented, she wanted to create an opportunity for people to experience and appreciate his artwork. “There’s traditional Indigenous artists, and then there [are artists like] my son who does more abstract art,” she explained.

From there, the markets turned into a favourite venue for local artists and members of the community to engage with and participate in Indigenous artwork. “The reason I kind of started the market was to give a safe place for Indigenous artists to feel comfortable and … have the community come out and support everybody.” 

Featured artists started out with locals, but have since expanded to a wider region. Clothing companies and other vendors from out of town have been invited to partake in this season’s series of markets. Mucciolo invited a decolonized clothing company, among other artists, to feature at the spring and summer series of markets.  

Mucciolo was eager to list the vendors she was anticipating for the market on March 26. From “All types of beadwork … [to] a cedar bark weaver that comes regularly,” she did not hesitate in describing as many as she could. 

There are a number of other vendors, some returning to the market, and some new. Among the featured artists who were invited to the March 26th market were a moccasin maker, who is a regular at the event, and a soap maker, who was a newcomer.

There is also more information about the featured artists on the official Instagram page for the event, @indigenouspopupshopyyj. The accounts for all the artists are tagged in the posts for each event. 

Mucciolo showed me a candle made by a company called the Crowfoot Collective, who make beautiful gemstone candles. The candles are botanical combinations of scents, crafted by the couple who run the company. Mucciolo explained that a lot of these scents come from their own gardens. 

She also pulled out a couple examples of her own hand-made beaded earrings and jewelry. In particular, there was a pair of blue and yellow earrings that stood out to me. I had expected the designs of her jewelry to be intricate, but I was still caught almost speechless at how delicate and lovely the pieces were. 

On top of the goods available at the market, Mucciolo told me about an individual who provides intuitive readings in her tipi. “She’s amazing,” she gushed. 

Through Mucciolo’s animated description of the art and eclectic vendors, it became clear that these markets are so much more than a vendor fair. The artists are displaying their work, but also introducing the community to their traditions and experiences. This separates the Indigenous markets from the average craft fair, providing an opportunity for cultural sharing within Indigenous communities and with the broader community. 

As a vendor at the market herself, Mucciolo puts all her proceeds towards supporting worthy causes. Using her beading and artwork as a means of fundraising, Mucciolo is able to contribute to efforts which matter to her. 

“Last year, [at] all the markets I did … a fundraiser for Fairy Creek,” she said. This year, in light of current global climates, she has created designs in blue and yellow. 

“Right now, though, my efforts are going to Ukraine. I’ve done a bunch of beadwork in the traditional flag colours: blue and yellow.” She showed me some of the pieces from the collection.  “I’m actually half Ukrainian,” she added. 

The Pop-Up Markets don’t charge an entrance fee — all they ask is that attendees bring non-perishable food donations. “My older son, and his girlfriend Rain, and I … we take all the food and we bring it to the Community Fridge in Rock Bay area, and we fill the fridge,” Mucciolo explained. 

There are several markets coming up for the rest of the season, on April 9 and May 7, as well as several during the summer, on June 18, July 23, and Aug. 20. The spring markets are held at 1508 Haultain Street. The location for the summer markets will be expanding to a larger space, at 111 Superior Street in James Bay. If you can’t make it to any of the upcoming market dates, fear not! Mucciolo’s son, Eli (DumbPlantStudios), has stickers available for purchase in Subtext on campus.