We are very happy to have Tomte with us today on our final Q & A before the Market on Saturday! Tomte Craft, a fabulous Denver shop showcasing handcrafters from across the country, was created by Brett and Crystal of Vital Industries (one of Horseshoe's Featured Vendors!). Tomte has been super generous for donating vendor totes for us on Saturday. Thank you, Tomte!
Brett and Crystal are not only the founders of Tomte and Vital, but also of Denver Handmade Alliance! Though they are humble, quiet-seeming folk, they are moving and shaking the craft world in Denver! Simply said, they are awesome. Please read more about them and Tomte below. We are glad you're in Denver doing what you're doing, Brett and Crystal! Go visit Tomte at 1644 Platte Street to see lots of amazing goodies!
HS (Horseshoe Market): Can you tell us a little bit about how Tomte came to be? (when you started, inspiration…)
Tomte: Brett and I have been creating and selling our personal line, Vital Industries, since 2007. In our travels to large craft markets we would meet so many amazing makers from across the country, and we wanted Denver to have a showcase for their work. The internet is fantastic for craft and handmade, but it’s also very important for people to be able to interact with things in person. There’s a much larger depth of experience. Last October, the space Tomte is in came available, and it was just a natural step.
HS: We love your little gnome – is there a back story on him or how you came up with the name Tomte?
Tomte: Brett’s family is Swedish/Norwegian, and we’ve always been drawn to the Scandinavian aesthetic. I have a few little wood and wool gnomes from Sweden that I’ve received as gifts, and when we were naming the store, the word “Tomte” (who are little gnomes that help out and do chores while you’re sleeping) just seemed perfect. Our two little tomten were kind enough to be figure models for the logo.
HS: How many artists do you currently have at Tomte? How do you find new artists or how do new artists become part of Tomte?
Tomte: Tomte currently has about 30 artists in the store. As Vital Industries, we spent the last few years traveling to large craft fairs such as Renegade Craft Fair and Urban Craft Uprising, and have met some amazing makers. In the very beginning, Brett and I simply asked our crafty friends if they would send some things to the store, and they were kind enough to do so. It is important to us to fill the store with things that we love. Because of that, most of the artists that are in the store we’ve invited personally and we are careful to keep the curated feel cohesive.
HS: What’s been one of the greatest accomplishments/events/milestones for Tomte?
Tomte: Tomte will be having its one year anniversary in October, so that’s definitely an exciting milestone for us. We feel an incredible sense of accomplishment when someone is totally blown away by something in the store. Also, we love when we can connect a customer to an artist that they might not have been exposed to otherwise. Supporting the artists that are represented in the store is a passion of ours, and we like nothing more than to send them a check. Some of our vendors are casual crafters, but many of them are full time makers, and we’re very happy to be able to help them do that.
HS: What’s in store for Tomte in the coming months? In the coming year?
Tomte: We hope to continue to grow our customer and artist base, as well as taking a bigger role in promoting handmade locally. Also, we are keeping an eye out for space where our studio and store can be directly connected; a space where Tomte can expand a bit and host open makers’ nights and workshops.
Vital Industries Old Fashioned Glasses. Vital Industries also screen printed the Horseshoe t-shirts!HS: Where do you think the future of handmade in Denver is going? What is Tomte’s role with that?
Tomte: Denver’s handmade community is growing, and it’s quite possible Denver can have a national presence in the craft scene. We’ve been involved with the Denver Handmade Alliance, whose mission is to promote handmakers in the greater Denver area – fostering creativity, supporting buying handmade and shopping locally, while providing outreach and education for the craft community.
Eventually, we’d like Tomte to become a gathering place. A little spot in Denver where people come to be inspired to work on their own creative projects and shoppers can find great handmade goods.
HS: What are some of your must have handmaking/crafting/artisan resources?
Tomte: Brett spends a lot of time on Etsy.com running our Vital shop. Etsy’s blog, “the storque”, has great business resources, as well as tips for making the most of selling on Etsy. We are huge fans of the site. It’s where Vital got its start and is what has enabled us to do what we do.
HS: Favorite spots to craft in Denver?
Tomte: Brett and I spend a lot of time in our studio, which is in the same building as Tomte. It has great light, and plenty of room to spread out. (And spread out we do). Outside of that, Fancy Tiger’s Craft Night is pretty great. We don’t make it nearly often enough, but it’s a great place to hang out and make things. (Brett tends to have a beer or two mixed in his craft case with his crafting supplies to spice up the crafting experience.)
HS: Favorite place to eat? Best coffee?
Tomte: Café Awesome. It’s in our backyard, and Brett makes a delicious grilled pizza with clams and homemade dough. Yum! We also have pretty fantastic beer, which Brett brews upstairs. Brett also makes lattes with novo espresso, raw milk from Windsor Dairy and homemade vanilla syrup. They’re delicious. It’s not currently open to the public, but if anyone really wants to stop by and have one, feel free to send us an email. (We spend lots of time at home.) Okay, we let it slip. We are huge dorks.
Well, we like dorks :) Thanks, Brett and Crystal!