After a year apart, Bratz Biz will be returning to the Arts Whistler Holiday Market (formerly Bizarre Bazaar).
In all, 28 young entrepreneurs will showcase their wares after being selected to participate by one of the Bratz Biz juries — one in June for the early birds and one in October for others looking to participate.
Co-organizer Lee Schwartz is excited to be back at the Conference Centre for this year's market on Nov. 25 and 26 as the next generation enjoyed connecting with experienced entrepreneurs.
"We did a survey last year after the market was not with the Arts Whistler Holiday Market," she says. "The survey from our vendors said that they really wanted to be back, that they felt excluded and on their own when they weren't with the adult market, that they liked the vibe, the people and they liked having the experienced vendors come through and give them tips."
Schwartz notes she attended the Arts Whistler Holiday Market last year and, after being recognized, was asked by shoppers why the two markets weren't together and if there was any chance of a reunion. She says Bratz Biz approached Arts Whistler in the spring to try to make something work, which ended up being successful.
"We expressed that we wanted to be back and they said that they wanted to work with us," she says.
Arts Whistler executive director Maureen Douglas attributes last year's separation as a crossroads for both organizations, as the Holiday Market suffered from a lack of space while Bratz Biz was growing. Last year, it was a matter of ensuring all the adult vendors, some of whom make half their income for the year at Christmas, had what they needed to succeed.
"We figured out a way to be able to accommodate both events together so it's great that they're back," Douglas says. "We were going through some growth. We're always looking to feature as many vendors and artisans who make their living at this as an adult.
"We were trying to make sure that we had enough space for all these artisans."
Douglas says there were some changes to the floorplan as well as food services to help allow for the reunion.
Bratz Biz co-organizer Craig Lovell notes there will be a wide variety of talent on display this year as vendors range from jewellers to caramel corn to crafts made out of recycled skis. While some familiar faces will be back, it might be with a brand-new product, as participants are always encouraged to move forward from year to year.
"One of the girls who was a fantastic artist in previous years is now doing dog treats," he says.
As for the Holiday Market, coordinator Imogen Osborne says she's excited to see local potter Vincent Massey return to the market after missing out last year because he was out of town. He'll be among 120 vendors this year, up slightly from last year's 110.
Douglas stresses that it's important to have a number of locals sell their wares — there are points in the selection process to ensure several are represented.
"It exposes them to such a huge audience. Six-thousand people go through this market over the two days, which blows our mind every year," Douglas says. "That's the largest (audience) that a lot of the Sea-to-Sky-based artisans get (access to) unless they go out of town to Vancouver to do those shows as well. It's cool to have that audience come to them in their home-base market."
Douglas says proceeds from the Holiday Market support numerous local programs including the Children's Festival and the Local Music Festival, with roughly $12,000 each year being raised through admission donations.
Entertainment includes Monty Biggins, Laura Nedelak, Angels on High, the Whistler Singers and the Children's Chorus and LB Productions.
This will be the first year that Bratz Biz founders Susan Shrimpton and Carmen Laslett will not head up the youth market, but Schwartz said both remain ready to help when called upon.
"We're not trying to change the world. We think that Bratz Biz was running really well the way it was. We've been in contact with both Susan and Carmen and they're helping us along the way," she says.