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Bratz Biz gains young artisans, teaches business tricks to youth

Final crafts choices being made for Christmas market, as it returns for its ninth season



All that glitters is good — especially when you can buy it, wrap it and give it to others.

Bratz Biz is back for its ninth year.

The Christmas weekend market where talented young artisans sell their work is again joining the Bizarre Bazaar at the Whistler Conference Centre on Nov. 29 and 30.

"It's going to be a busy market," says Susan Shrimpton, who founded Bratz Biz with Carmen Laslett.

At the first juried event last month, over 70 per cent of their tables were filled.

But youngsters wanting to take part can bring their wares to be juried at Creekbread in Whistler Creekside from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 23.

Shrimpton says last year Bratz Biz had 25 businesses on the Saturday. This year, she hopes to "squeak it out" to a bit more.

She says more kids definitely want to take part. All participants must be in school and under the age of 19.

"Traditionally, at our first jury we have six people come and then get slammed at the second jury and it ends up being the perfect amount of participants every year. We've only ever had to turn away a couple of kids who definitely weren't ready," Shrimpton says.

"But the applications are now coming in for the Oct. 23 jury and I can tell we are going to have to turn away many. This is the first time it has happened."

Shrimpton says that because of this, Bratz Biz is not taking any more baking or jewelry, two products that are popular with the sellers.

This year, the juries have been seeing new youngsters, including their first Vancouver vendor, Crafted by Ceilidh, a Grade 3 student who specializes in fabric art on pillow cases and burp cloths.

"She's sewing a lot. We haven't had a lot of kids doing sewing in the past," Shrimpton says.

There are also tie-dye products, soaps (including Nicole's Aromatics, who was at the farmers' market this year), Christmas decorations, decorative hooks and more.

If needed, Shrimpton says they may have to talk about the need for more space with the Whistler Arts Council.

"If we're too big in the future, we'll have to have our own event," she says.

It's not surprising that it is so popular. The sellers not only make money, they are taught how to run a business in the run-up to the market taking place. Shrimpton says the first-timers are nervous, but they all gain experience — and confidence.

"They just blossom. For children to be able to converse with adults, it's a real skill. It gives them the confidence to do that. In terms of the younger kids, we give them quite a bit of coaching and that is part of the workshop we do before the event," she says.

"Last year, we did some role playing and we gave them some situations and they all were excited to try the exercises. They want to learn."

Shrimpton also talked about the fundraising they have to do to keep Brats Biz going, about $10,000. Tables are heavily subsidized at $60 a table, compared to the usual adult WAC rate, including membership, being $240. They also pay for entertainment.

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