Annette Van Gerwen grew up in a family of makers and artisans. It wasn’t until Van Gerwen, a public relations and communications expert, began to ask her talented friends and family to sell their pieces that she realized there was a problem.

“People brushed off the suggestions they could sell their crafts,” she said. “They didn’t want to do the marketing, brand building, etc.”

Van Gerwen, who has more than a decade of experience in the tech industry, knew she could help.

This weekend, Nov. 27-28, she is hosting the first Ayr Handmade Holiday Show and Sale. The event is a celebration of artistic talent. For Van Gerwen, an Ayr resident, hosting the show in the village was a no-brainer.

Ayr lies a short drive away from Kitchener and Cambridge. It hasn’t seen a show of this scale.

For Van Gerwen, art — and access to art — is important to building a community. She has brought in artists, designers and makers from Toronto, Guelph, Cambridge, Kitchener and surrounding communities.

Van Gerwen has taken time to get to know the artists attending the show. For her, it’s the story behind the product that is appealing.

“Everything has meaning in it,” she said. “You buy from someone you get to know, and support someone doing what they are passionate about and trying to make some money.”

Makers, a popular term today that defines everyone from knitters to robotics designers, is a term Van Gerwen loves to use. The term shines a light on people who create, but who can’t be slotted in one category of “things.”

“No one is just one person,” she said. “I’m a marketer and a mum and a gardener. I’m featuring a photographer at the show who’s also a full-time engineer and a trained teacher.”

Buying from your neighbours, and buying from someone with, perhaps, a hidden talent, is what excites Van Gerwen about this weekend. The show features creative types of all ages and walks of life.

“There are mompreneurs, school-aged artists and seniors following their passions,” she said.

Van Gerwen has dabbled in arts and crafts all her life. Her big a-ha moment came when she saw a magazine photo of dahlias. She fell in love with the colourful flowers and now grows a wide variety of them in her garden. While her mother never grew them, Van Gerwen discovered that her grandmother loved dahlias and had them in her garden.

Those kinds of connections make Van Gerwen passionate about building an environment for every kind of maker to share their passion.

The 2015 Ayr Handmade Holiday Show and Sale takes place at the North Dumfries Community Complex, 2958 Greenfield Rd. The show runs noon-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27; and 9 a.m.-4 p.m.  Saturday, Nov. 28. Look for local artists, crafters, farmers and food vendors.

A full list of maker profiles can be found online. Cash is preferred, but there is an ATM on site and some vendors will have Square.


I’ll be swinging by the Ayr Handmade Holiday Show and Sale this weekend with hopes of completing my Christmas shopping. If you aren’t quite ready to think holidays, I see and hear . . .  This Thursday, Nov. 26, is Hacking Health Waterloo’s Café #2. The Café at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine (10B Victoria St. S., Third floor, Kitchener) attracts developers, health-care practitioners and individuals passionate about well-being. It’s an informal evening connecting health-care experts and technology talent. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. Registration is required . . . Get into the holiday spirit at Fairview Park Mall (2960 Kingsway Dr., Kitchener) this weekend. Saturday, Nov. 28, is the CHYM Tree of Hope Kick Off and Lighting. The free event runs 10 a.m.-2 p.m. It features face-painting and prizes, as well as an official lighting of the tree and a presentation about the Tree of Hope campaign . . .  Wednesday, Dec. 2, is the University of Guelph’s Derry Lecture. This year’s guest speaker is venture-capitalist Janet Bannister. The free event starts at 5 p.m. in Rozanski Hall Room 102 (98 Trent Lane, University of Guelph campus). Seating is limited and registration is required.

About The Author

Kayleigh Platz

Kayleigh Platz is a storyteller and community relations manager for Communitech. Born, raised and schooled in Waterloo Region, she holds two degrees from the University of Waterloo and is interested in new media, social networks and making connections.