Shoppers looking for locally made products perused through 34 socially conscious vendors during the two-day Winter Solstice Market held at the Mercury Café on Dec. 2 and 3.
The weekend sale, organized by Witch Collective, highlighted the work of small business owners of color and LGBTQ vendors. According to their website, Witch Collective is a collaboration of magic makers and artists in town who give a portion of their proceeds to support a just world.
“We wanted to lead with our values, so instead of charging booth fees we donate 10 percent of sales to a local nonprofit,” said Zoë Williams, an MSU Denver alum and member of Witch Collective.
The purpose of the market is to create a microeconomy and a small alternative to big holiday establishments where vendors and customers might not feel comfortable. Williams wants customers to know that their money is going directly to a person and not a corporation.
“They get to meet the people that makes the products,” Williams said. “And get to know the ingredients, like what goes into what they are buying for the people they care about or themselves.”
Shoppers also had the opportunity to buy organic drinks and food from the Mercury Café while they looked through a multitude of artisanry and healing products. Evan Villarreal and Jason Honerkamp heard about the event through social media and decided to attend together.
Villarreal likes to support spaces where vendors can express themselves in a safe environment where their artistry is seen and connected with.
“We are able to celebrate someone’s passions,” Villarreal said. “It’s inspiring me to get back to my work, it helps me resonate with my own.”
Honerkamp agrees that being able to shop from local artists and craftsmen feels like a way to give back and connect with the community.
Connection is very important for Faatma Norouzizadeh, a former MSU Denver student and member of Righteous Food Collective. It drives her work, whether she’s creating handmade pottery items or nurturing the earth to grow vegetables.
“Potters and farmers, people who have tactile professions, get the same kind of chemical reactions in their bodies as when people are getting hugs,” Norouzizadeh said.
Many of the farmers and artists she knows deal with childhood trauma. She said their profession is a form of touch therapy that doesn’t include the human element, which sometimes can get scary and messy. For her, everything that she makes and creates is related to the earthwork.
“I deal with the elements and the earth in everything that I do,” she said. “It’s a relationship for sure, and I’m not sure who benefits the most. Because it’s therapy for me, too.”
Flor Marquez, a healer and owner of Alchemy Ritual Goods, also sees her work as a healing practice. The goal of Alchemy Ritual Goods is to create a space for community to receive the healing and support they need regardless of background, spirituality or culture. Marquez grew up knowing she was a bruja, Spanish for witch. She said that everyone has a little sliver of witch and that religion and politics have made the word scarier than it really is.
“In reality, I think it’s just our connection to the natural world. The natural world is part of everything that is and so honoring that and ourselves is part of being a bruja,” Marquez said.
Not everyone identifies with the term witch and that’s acceptable with the Witch Collective.
“I would not call myself a witch, because it’s a European term and I feel like we have to find a word that fits us better as black and brown folks,” Norouzizadeh said. “For a lack of a better word, we say magic.”
Magic seemed to be the main ingredient at the marketplace adorned in holiday reds, golden tassels and lights galore. Vendor tables set in a U-shaped formation on the second floor of the café made it easy for shopping traffic to navigate through all the colorful and unique products sold.
Art, stick and poke tattoos, mushroom walking sticks, tarot readings and portraits were available along with organic candles, soaps, oils and other personal products. The air was filled with refreshing scents as shoppers looked on happily and children ran about in a space that felt more like community than commerce.
“Healing is an essential part of being happy,” Marquez said.
She likes to imagine what communities could accomplish collectively if they healed together.
“Living a life that feels like a high quality space and time for you where you can impact the people that you love in the best way possible is important,” she said.
The vendors were able to impact even more community members by participating and giving 10 percent of their proceeds. Collectively, they raised $1,700 for Colorado Circles for Change, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to reduce juvenile violence and incarceration so young people can reach their full potential. This is the second time they are beneficiaries.
The Witch Collective will be hosting another market where local beneficiaries will be the Transformative Freedom Fund. The nonprofit organization works to remove financial barriers to accessing transition related healthcare for transgender people in Colorado.
Midwinter Market Series
organized by The Witch Collective
Dec. 13 and 14 from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 15 from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m.