Amidst the industrial buildings of Gowanus, Brooklyn is a cozy community of local artisanal makers and sellers. This weekend marks the launch of the all-inclusive, female-centric handmade market, Gowanus Girls. Spearheaded by Samantha Razook Murphy and Melisa Coburn, the masterminds behind Curious Jane — a local girls summer camp, are now focusing their attention on the creativity of a slightly older demographic. Gowanus Girls is opening its doors only twice this season on October 13 and 27 so you won’t want to miss this feast of locally made goods and treats. Read on as we talk shop with this incredible duo and get a sneak peek at what’s in store this Saturday!
Why did you start Gowanus Girls?
The market is really an extension of what Curious Jane does — with a focus on girls (in this case, women), design and community. It combines what we do in different ways. And it incorporates our love of the neighborhood — we operate our summer camp programs out of schools, but our business offices are located in Gowanus. There’s a great creative energy here that we love being a part of.
Us too! How did you make the jump from Curious Jane camp to starting a market?
A Girls + Design + Community. Same elements, different composition, inspired by Gowanus and other bits and pieces of Brooklyn that we love.
What makes the Gowanus Girls market different from other markets in New York?
Several things! The all-lady designers twist, for sure, with a focus on original creations rather than secondhand items. Also the giving-back element — a portion of the proceeds will go towards the revitalization efforts happening in the area. Plus, there are the free craft activities to keep kids busy, and the bar set-up so shoppers can grab mulled wine or a beer. And the setting — Gowanus Grove — really has a magical feeling. It’s tree-sy and bucolic in the midst of industrial Brooklyn.
How did you two become partners in crime?
M: My daughter attended Curious Jane camp last year and loved it — and I was so impressed with the program and the instructors that I approached Samantha about doing some marketing work. It’s worked out really well! We have a lot in common in terms of sensibility and approach — and then are different, too, in ways that balance nicely.
That’s great! What do you each bring to the table?
M: I hope I bring in good ideas and a “selling” sense of them. And I’m a parent, too, so I have the “mom” perspective. I’m a writer and editor and a lot of those editorial skills are a help in terms of building a business. Samantha is a smart businesswoman — fearless, confident and dang, she gets things done fast!
S: Curious Jane resources (business, audience, great staff, etc) that we also use as a launch pad for Gowanus Girls; graphic design skills so we can pull together visuals very quickly (has proved invaluable!); a sense of calm and (I hope!) sense of humor. Melisa is a stellar wordsmith; has a great eye; great ideas (the market!); and truly is a person who ‘picks up the phone.’ Fun to work with and a rare find! We each have a wide network of social and professional contacts, but Melisa has her finger on the pulse of ‘new and notable.’
What’s the best thing about Brooklyn’s handmade scene?
There’s so much creativity flourishing here! The supply of talent seems endless, which is good news for us.
How do you stay on top of the “locally made” pulse?
We like to shop! And we like pretty things. And we like to chat with other women and share information. We try to keep ourselves out there.
You walk into a market, what do you make a beeline for?
M: Colorful jewelry. And food!
S: Scarves, totes, jewelry. Anything with color and texture!
Describe Gowanus Girls in three words.
M: Fun, different, lots of “pretty.” (OK, that was more than three….)
S: Shopping. Snacking. Sangria.
Let’s pretend you have extra time in your day. What are you each working on these days outside of Gowanus Girls?
Exploring Brooklyn neighborhoods — looking for fun new places to eat and shop and finding fun things to do with our kids; staying social and seeing friends (the best!); cooking; biking and walking and basically trying to stay a wee-bit active. But truly, right now it’s all about the market — and parenting. Soon we’ll dive back into camp planning — and then more markets in the spring!
Visit The Market
A new indie design and food mart featuring talented, mostly Brooklyn-based female designers and food makers. Check it out on Saturdays, October 13 and 27 from noon-sunset in Gowanus, Brooklyn, The market will be held at Gowanus Grove, 400 Carroll Street, between Bond and Nevins in Brooklyn. Preview the market at Krrb.com/gowanusgirlsmart.