When Shira Lane’s landlord encouraged her to develop a cooperative workspace with other creatives, she couldn’t have imagined what came next: a $219,000 grant from the city of Sacramento’s CARES Act and a platform to support makers and crafty business friends.
Lane’s passions, creative thinking and circular economy took her to lead the Atrium Creative Innovation Center for Sustainability. In a year of quarantine, the Atrium’s Sacramento.Shop website offers a solution for both local makers and the people who want to support them.
The Atrium is a nonprofit group of creatives and entrepreneurs that focus on business projects that do more than make money. They want to foster community and equity, while also looking for creative ways to be sustainable and be good stewards of the earth’s resources. It was a natural progression for Atrium to create a website where local makers could list their goods together, with the group handling the website, customer service and shipping.
It started back in April, when Lane helped some local makers get into creating custom face masks for people.
“We had makers working on masks even before the CDC came out with the recommendation,” said Lane.
After masks were suggested, the demand for them exploded. Atrium set up a website to connect mask-makers and buyers. People were able to custom order masks. Eventually, they switched to having premade masks that they sold on the site, so they were able to fulfill orders immediately. As face masks became more available through more sources, the demand went back down.
But local makers still needed work during a pandemic.
The idea for Sacramento.Shop blossomed. Artisans and makers that were used to selling their products at shows, markets, and in galleries needed a new venue, but they weren’t all ready to open their own online stores or put the time and expense into working with an existing artisan website. As Lane explained, “The time it takes for the learning curve on that technology is a luxury.”
In addition to that, sometimes makers just want to make. Not everyone wants to become their own IT, marketing and shipping department. The creatives at Atrium took their mask website experience, and made it bigger and better: more artists, more products and a simpler web address.
With that plan, they applied for a CARES Act grant from the city of Sacramento through the Office of Arts and Culture. The city earmarked $19.8 million of the $89 million in federal money received to support the creative economy.
“This is exactly the type of economic assistance the CARES Act funding was intended for,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrel Steinberg. “We have a new platform that is supporting local artists and the local economy. Some of the artwork, and other items are really beautiful, too. With a COVID-19 vaccine almost here, I’m very hopeful this program will help our local arts community until we can start getting back to some kind of normal.”
“The beauty of Sacramento.Shop is that it’s local,” according to Lane. “We manage the website, delivery, and other customer services so local artists can focus on their creativity and customers have easy access to some great local artists and their work. We have about 20 artists online now and we are adding more every day.”
Sacramento.Shop began onboarding artists. With hundreds of applications, they started with the artists that were able to get up and running quickly and are working to add more artists all the time. The benefits for the artists on the site are game-changing. Choose up to 25 different products to list and the people at Atrium take care of the rest. No coding or subscription fees. From photographing the item to uploading it to the website all the way through shipping, delivering, or making the product available for pick up, the artists are off the hook for all of it. The heart of it is supporting local artists, and they’re doing it however they can.
“We even have artists making deliveries for us,” said Lane.
On the new site there are still masks available from some makers. Also available now are jewelry, clothing, art, and home goods. Sustainability is incorporated whenever possible, for example, they offer same day delivery in Sacramento and plastic-free shipping to other locations.
Ultimately, Lane is hoping that more and more local artists and shoppers move toward reusing and recycling.
“For example, if you buy a hand sanitizer, when it’s gone you bring the bottle back in. The artist sanitizes it and can use it again,” Lane said. This eliminates waste, lowers the costs of producing the product, and reduces the resources used.
To learn more about the nonprofit Atrium Creative Innovation Center for Sustainability, go to atrium916.com. To shop local Sacramentan artists’ goods or to apply for the creative maker waitlist, go to Sacramento.Shop.