Open-air market makes Brentwood debut

Photo by Stephanie Mollenhauer

The Sweet Pea Flower Truck owner Kristina Lux helps a customer ring up her bouquet at the Creative Communal in downtown Brentwood on April 24.

Scents of fresh-brewed coffee, harvested flowers, handcrafted soaps and cooking food wafted through the streets of downtown Brentwood when the weekly farmers market met with the Communal Makers Market on April 24.

Southern California-based Creative Communal held its first Northern California event after co-owners Diana Morales and Sarah Vogels met event organizer Katie Rogina, who expressed interest in hosting an event for residents.

Creative Communal is an open-air market that allows local businesses to meet with their communities and sell their handcrafted goods. Events are designed to provide family-friendly time and support for local artisans.

“[Katie] said there was a need for an event like this here,” Vogels said. “We feel proud and welcomed to be here. There’s obviously a need to bring these vendors together in one space.”

Over 30 local vendors attended the event, offering goods from candles and soaps to handcrafted jewelry and succulents.

“We’re hoping to have this every month and piggyback on the farmers market,” Rogina said. “We wanted to do something to bring the community and their families together in a safe, fun way.”

Free face masks and other personal protective equipment and sanitizing stations were offered by students of Heritage High School, to continue the effort to decrease the spread of COVID-19.

This was the first event for some families to test the waters of their new hobby-turned-business adventures.

“I used to make succulents and give them away, but my son encouraged me to start selling them, and now we’re here,” said Audra Spishock, owner of new business Mrs. Mae’s Succulent Arrangements. “I sold my most expensive [piece], which I didn’t expect. I honestly am happy just selling one.”

Spishock’s son, 12-year-old Owen, also had entrepreneurial ideas for his own photography business, which he combined with his mother’s hobby. He takes photos of landscapes and cityscapes to pair with her succulent arrangements.

“I had seen people doing [photography], and it seemed like something cool to do,” he said. “I figured ‘Why not? I have a camera laying around and I’m bored. Maybe I can make a profit from it.’”

Others have left their day jobs and committed to creating goods, like the folks at The Apothecary Bazaar.

Patrick Sousa and Tiffany Baldwin create candles, body soaps and bath bombs for their two-month-old business.

“I was cut out of my restaurant job because of COVID, so I decided to put less stress on myself and pick up my mom’s old hobby from the 80s,” Sousa said. “I’ve found no greater happiness.”

Some marketgoers had expected to see the usual farmers market but were instead greeted with bubbles, live music and extra booths taking up another block of the street.

“I usually go to the farmers market, but I think this [event] is cute,” said attendee Nicole Kangas. “We’ve been trying to reach out and keep the local shops open, so this is really great.”

Live music was performed by 15-year-old Shellye Cheyenne. The young artist performed songs throughout the duration of the event, playing a wide range of covers, from “Bellyache” by Billie Eilish to “Jolene” by Dolly Parton, as well as her own single, “The Promise.”

“I started performing in smoky bars in Texas at 14, and this is completely different. I’m kind of background music. I like it. It’s a different vibe,” Cheyenne said. “I’d absolutely do something like this again.”

Traffic from both of the markets spread into downtown shops, such as children’s boutique Wild at Hart Co.

Employee Michaela McCauley said the business was busy throughout the day, but she wasn’t sure if that was from the usual crowd from the farmers market or new locals coming by for the makers market.

The streets were lively with families and bustling in a way that could rival pre-COVID times for this combo event. Future events may be scheduled, based on vendor participation and community response.