501 Main St., Mount Vernon
Valley Made Market has made quite the splash in Skagit’s arts scene. Since its humble beginnings in 2017, the event has evolved into a community affair showcasing a rotating array of artisans, designers, and makers of all stripes.
elSageDesign’s Phoebe Carpenter Eells is the creative mind behind Valley Made. She says the market is an opportunity to celebrate what she refers to as the “indie economy,” and even amid pandemic complications, community turnout in 2021 was strong.
“I hope to see that continue because I really think that we need to invest in what we want to see in the world,” she says. “And what I want to see in the world is more small businesses thriving, and more people making amazing things and sharing them with the world.”
The atmosphere at Valley Made is similar to that of a neighborhood block party– with a creative twist, of course. In addition to connecting artisans with the public, the event facilitates friendships, collaboration, and inspiration among makers from the North Sound region and beyond.
“It’s very connection based,” Carpenter Eells says. “I hear all the time from vendors how different Valley Made is. It really is a community of folks.”
Carpenter Eells established elSageDesign in late 2009, and she and her husband opened their brick-and-mortar in 2016. After their first year in the storefront, the couple began hosting smaller markets in elSage’s private parking lot.
The pop-ups were an instant success, so Carpenter Eells continued offering them, eventually expanding from the parking lot to the heart of downtown Mount Vernon. Now, she facilitates monthly markets in the warmer months as well as a holiday market in the wintertime.
As a small business owner herself, Carpenter Eells also understands what it takes to thrive in a creative industry. One of her goals for the 2022 season is to bring back the Valley Made Market Scholarship Booth. The program has no application fee and is meant to eliminate financial barriers (such as costs for tents, weights, and tables) for up-and-coming vendors.
WHAT YOU’LL FIND
Vendors at Valley Made create everything from jewelry to clothing, bath products, candles, art prints, gifts, and more. Most makers are local, but several come from Seattle or– in the case of the holiday market– even Portland. If you’re familiar with the North Sound market scene, you’re likely to recognize at least a few names.
“We’ve seen people go from teeny tiny businesses to, like, totally exploding,” Carpenter Eells says. “And it’s really, really neat to watch that process.”
It’s impossible for Carpenter Eells to choose favorites, but she notes that she’s grateful to the vendors who have stuck with Valley Made since the very beginning. These include Barn Cat Creations, Crowe Potter, and Cascadia Jewelry.
At the end of the day, every business brings something new and exciting to the table.
“We ended up having a really increasingly diverse community come together, which makes my heart happy,” Carpenter Eells says. “I hope we’re succeeding at being a safe place for all makers to step into the scene.”