Creative Waco aids local artists, businesses during pandemic

The homepage of Make It In Waco displays an easy way to find unique products while also featuring a short description of the site's mission.

By Lauren Gassel | Contributor

Creative Waco, a local nonprofit, has recently given the opportunity for Waco small businesses and local artists to stay afloat during this time of economic hardship.

One way that Creative Waco has helped Waco’s artistic community is by starting an online marketplace called Make It In Waco that allows businesses to list handmade items, services, experiences, classes, commissions and audio/video files for sale.

Fiona Bond, Creative Waco’s executive director, spoke about the inspiration behind the creation of the website in an episode of the nonprofit’s podcast “Conversations With Creative Waco.”

“When we realized how big of an impact the coronavirus pandemic was going to have on the arts and cultural community in Waco, and actually everywhere of course, we decided to create a platform that would offer artists, performers, arts-based businesses an opportunity to put what they do online,” Bond said.

One small Waco business utilizing Make It In Waco’s platform is MC Art Supplies, a fine art supply store supplying local artists with the tools needed to create. The store is owned Aaron and Jessica Williams.

“Creative Waco is someone we’ve worked with on different projects in the past like the ArtPrenticeship program. They kinda reached out to us and saw that we, you know we had also been selling at like Eastside Market and things like that, that are handmade type of deals, and you know wanted to see if we want to put some products on this website,” Aaron Williams said.

Though their normal goods range from brushes, canvas, paints and drawing materials, MC Art Supplies’ listings on Make It In Waco are focused on handmade pottery, custom mugs and ceramics all created by Jessica.

As well as creating the marketplace, Creative Waco started the “Make it Through Corona” emergency fund, which supplies mini-grants to artists and art-based businesses struggling due to the pandemic. Each purchase through Make It In Waco includes a 15% donation to the program.

Make It In Waco has about 82 small businesses listing their goods and services. Williams was thankful that they were already familiar with online shopping but saw that Make it in Waco’s selling platform was different.

“It did take some time to learn how to add those products on to that website and everything, but we asked for some help on a few things and were able to pick it up fairly quickly,” Aaron Williams said.

Aaron expressed that they would keep their products on Make It In Waco post-coronavirus. He saw it as a “really cool platform” and congratulates Creative Waco for a job well done.

“That is something that I know Creative Waco has talked about for a while,” Aaron Williams said. “They were able to do an awesome job and get on the ball and create an awesome website fairly quickly, but I know they kind of had this in the back of their mind for a while.”