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Northwest Homegrown 0

Northwest Arkansas Makers Unite

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A new website launched recently featuring products made exclusively by makers in the Northwest Arkansas area.

The new site, called nwamakers.com, features works of local art, jewelry, furniture and other products for the home, toys, t-shirts, and all types of items in between.

The project was created by the NWA Makers Club, a new group that formed earlier this year made up of creative folks of all types who “love to collaborate, communicate, ogle each other’s work, and shower encouragement all around.”

The site went up last week, and makers have been adding their products over the last week. Group founder Bo Dutton said he considers the official launch date to be Sept. 1.

“I started our group January 2021 after observing the abundance of incredible makers in the area and realizing that it was a community without a community center,” Dutton said. “I wanted to build a place where we could socialize, collaborate, admire other makers’ work, go for help, and really just be anything it needed to be for local makers. Born in the middle of COVID, we have been forced to interact mostly online thus far, which I think has helped our online community explode in the way that it has. We have almost 2000 makers, artists, and creatives of all kinds in our Facebook group, all based in Northwest Arkansas.”

The goal for the new site is to highlight some locally-made products and let folks know about local options for purchasing a host of items they may want or need.

“I took my dreams for the website to NWA Maker Club member Adam Gronwald at Happy Design Co., who deserves more thanks than we could offer for what he has done for our community in building us such an incredible resource and platform,” Dutton said.

More than forty artists, woodworkers, potters, and other creative folks have already added products to the site in the site.

Among them, for example, is Austin Vanderveer, a woodworker who makes custom toy trucks with his company Bad Ash Toys, and Crystal Widger, who makes crocheted creations with her company, Crochet a Memory. The site includes artists from all experience levels, from newer artists to more established businesses like longtime glass artist Ed Pennebaker.

Each maker has their own profile page and the ability to showcase their products on the site.

Shoppers can check out the products that interest them and contact the artists directly or visit their websites or Etsy pages to purchase directly from them.

His hope, Dutton said, is the site will answer questions like “who can make me a _____? and “where do I find ____ locally?” he said.

“This website will serve a few purposes, most pertinent to your audience; it will be the first and only place you need to look for locally made goods or makers who work in the mediums you’re interested in,” he said.

Locals who’d like to get involved with the NWA Makers can join the Facebook group to become a part of the community.

“Our doors are wide open to anyone who thinks of themselves as a creative, and we would be glad to have you in our community,” Dutton said.

If all goes well, the makers have other plans as well.

“We plan to open a brick and mortar store called “The NWA Makers’ Market” to provide a place for our makers to show and sell their products and be a place where the public can come and know they will find unique, high-quality products, all made right here in Northwest Arkansas by their friends and neighbors,” Dutton said.

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Dustin Bartholomew is the co-founder of Fayetteville Flyer, an online publication covering all things news, art and life in Fayetteville, Arkansas since 2007. A graduate of the Department of English at the University of Arkansas and a lifelong resident of the area, he still lives in east Fayetteville with his son Hudson, daughter Evelyn, his wife Brandy, and his two dogs Lily and Steve. On occasion, he tickles the ivories in a local band called The Good Fear.

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