Loving Idaho and its artists year-round.
By Elle Parker
Photography Kimberlee Miller
If you’re anything like me and love the local art scene and gift shopping, it can be discouraging to see everyone taking down their Christmas trees and removing the lights from their homes; I hate to think that the hustle, bustle, and thrill of holiday shopping is over. Shopping at big, chain stores who all stock the same old boring gifts and clothes becomes so monotonous. It can seem like the local art scene is only really present in November and December. Luckily, this isn’t true. Boise business “Idaho Made” is open all “year round. Not just holiday pop-up shops and markets,” stocked with only the best Idaho-made goods and products.
Idaho Made owners, Molly Seaman, Sarah Christensen, and Steven Dexter, are all quite passionate about the power and impact of shopping local. This business makes it easy for local aspiring makers to showcase and sell their original work, and for you to buy it. Currently, they house the work of over 60 different Idaho artists in the Old Boise Building behind City Hall. The business originally began as an Etsy team called “Idaho Indie Works,” with a group of people who shared a passion of creating. Around three years ago, the group was given an opportunity to switch things up with their branding and operations, and ultimately decided on changing their name to the more accurate and appropriate title of “Idaho Made.”
Many of these items promote an Idahoan lifestyle; essentially, this is your one-stop shop for Idaho apparel. Who wouldn’t want to sport locally-made gear showing off the greatest city in the greatest state? After speaking with Seaman, it is evident that the creators of Idaho Made genuinely care about the artists they represent. “Every decision is meant to better the whole of the shop and our artists that have trusted us with their business,” Seaman said. Being artists themselves, the founders can understand the day-to-day struggles of other creators, and shared: “We love hearing the success stories of our artists and feel that parental proudness watching them grow.” It’s important to Christensen, Dexter, and Seaman that even though they technically own Idaho Made, the artists are still a crucial part of the store. “We run Idaho Made as much like a co-op as we can. Over half of our members pay rent and work hours in the store in trade for all of their sales, the only percentage that comes out of their checks is to cover credit card processing fees.” The team admits that it’s a peculiar business model, but it just goes to show how intimate and trusting small-business relationships are.
This Boise business is thriving and “pretty full artist-wise at the moment.” Even still, it never hurts to apply for a spot in the store! Artists can do this by stopping in the shop and asking for an application to sell their products there. Even if there happens to be a product similar to the one a creator wants to sell, the management keeps all past applications so when there is an opening for those goods, they can contact the artist and stock up on their product. The exposure that Idaho Made brings to local artists is simply unmatchable. There also seems to be a never-ending flow of events happening, including First Thursdays (which take place on, respectively, the first Thursday of every month) at the Idaho Made shop. Many of these First Thursdays are themed or take place on the day of an event, bringing an element of surprise to the table. Free snacks are always a perk, too. November’s First Thursday had several exciting features, such as glass demos and candy-tasting for the attendees. They strive to create a unique and enjoyable environment for not only their customers, but their featured artists as well. “We aren’t just a store,” the three said. “We are a family of artists, a support group, a collaboration team, and an advice panel.”
Another event, a personal favorite of many, is the Kids’ Pop-Up Shop hosted during autumn. This occasion allows bright and spirited young makers, 17 and under, to showcase their talents and sell their products. Idaho Made insists that “the talent these kiddos have is amazing.” The booth fee is a mere $20 that gets refunded after the event—it is simply a holding fee to ensure that artists who are truly invested have spots, instead of giving spaces to those who aren’t and end up flaking. This is just another example of how deeply this business empowers local artists. They believe in it so strongly that they even made it their mission statement: “we exist to empower local artists.”
The future of Idaho Made is looking bright, and there is much to look forward to. The owners shared: “We have big plans [for the future], but mainly we want to make sure that everyone in Idaho knows about our amazing little shop behind City Hall.” There are so many undiscovered local gems in the Treasure Valley, and many of them are just dying to be worn, shared, or gifted. By supporting these local artisans and wearing your Idaho pride, these creators have the opportunity “to flourish…so that they can buy their kiddos the uniforms they need, or buy themselves that bottle of wine, or sign up for an extra class that they’ve wanted to take.” It’s a win-win for everyone.
For more information, visit Idaho Made 108 N. 6th St. or follow them on Instagram and Facebook @IdahoMade.