Local artists, musicians and other creatives blindsided by the coronavirus shutdowns will move their wares and services to the internet with a new online marketplace recently activated by Waco arts nonprofit Creative Waco.
The site’s name, makeitinwaco.com, has a double meaning, Creative Waco Executive Director Fiona Bond said. It carries products created and crafted in Waco, but also represents the hope that local artists will survive the temporary but dramatic loss of customers because of the city’s shelter-in-place order meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Make it in Waco offers items in 12 categories ranging from fine art, crafts and clothing to commissions, summer camps, gift cards, donations and virtual performances.
“It’s like a Waco-based Etsy,” Bond said, referring to the online shopping site for handmade or vintage crafts.
She said early talks with local artists and musicians on offsetting the loss of walk-in traffic and festival sales revealed many of them did not feel they had the tech savvy needed to set up and run an online shop.
That seemed a service that Creative Waco could sponsor, and the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce and the music and arts advocacy group Keep Waco Loud later signed on to the project. Web designer Jeffrey Cannon of WP Waco, who designed the Sculpture Zoo’s online guide, was tapped to create the sales site.
“We squeezed a three-month project into three weeks,” Bond said.
Almost 40 artists, musicians and organizations are represented on Make it in Waco, including Joel Edwards, Joseph Barbieri, Susan Sistrunk, Mark Kieran, John Storm, Kavitha Saminathan, Julia Harmon, Pedro Lozano, caricaturist Greg Peters and Wendy Davis Hogan.
Customers can order items and services found online and pay through credit card, debit card or Pay Pal. Orders can be mailed, downloaded or delivered to buyers.
Fifteen percent of sales outside of gift cards and donations will be earmarked for a special Creative Waco emergency fund for artists that could cover efforts including skills training, Bond said.
Make it in Waco can expand to accommodate more artists and products, and browsers may find some imaginative services and products offered, including hairdressers’ beauty and hair tips for buyers to look good on Zoom teleconferencing, Bond said.
“I think everyone is open to experimenting right now,” she said.