Before Etsy, there was BUST. The women’s magazine started offering craft colonies as early as the mid-90s—and twenty years later, they’ve kicked the craft fair game into high-gear with events like “Primped,” the upcoming fashion, beauty and vintage fair next weekend hosted by BUST Craftacular. At first glance, an event that puts the spotlight on nice soaps and hair-braiding might seem regressive somehow, as though it might accidentally relegate its attendees to arcane ideals of a woebegone womanhood. But there’s actually a whole lot of pussy riot in a DIY craft fair, as revealed in our conversation with the magazine’s co-founder, Debbie Stoller.
“I think crafting fits into feminism in a really central way,” Stoller tells us. “I grew up with a stay-at-home mom who taught me how to craft. Not bullshit crafts, like with popsicle sticks, but actual skills that I found fun, pleasurable and satisfying. So with Primped, I wanted that sense, that these products come from a place of self-expression.”
BUSTS’s event on April 19 will feature tons of free activities, including a charm bar by Brooklyn Charm, DIY nail art with Floss Gloss, flower crowns, tarot readings and more. And that may all sound awfully girly, but Stoller—an academic feminist with a flair for the handmade—tells us that’s the draw of it. “I’m really devoted to celebrating things from girl culture,” she says. “Rejecting it is kind of dismissive of the whole idea of work that women have done for centuries. And it’s also a male-focused perspective, the idea of activities that are girly. That just because men don’t engage in certain activities, those activities shouldn’t be engaged in.”
Vendors will include a lot of web-based stores that only showcase at fairs and fleas, so this is a great way to fall in love with independent designers whose work you can start to seek out elsewhere in the borough. And even though BUST hosts these Craftaculars in cities around the country (there’s even one coming up in London, England), Stoller says Brooklyn is still one of the best places for a feminism-focused DIY event. “Brooklyn has more like-minded women and girls living here, but also it’s just full of people trying to opt out of mainstream culture. People just think more about these issues here.”
So let go of any shame you have about wanting that lavender-fig soap, or good beads for your next bracelet, and get on over to “Primped” on Sunday, April 19 from 10am-6pm. $5 admission at the door gets you all of the freebies above and more at the event, which takes place at Brooklyn Night Bazaar (165 Banker Street).