Calling All Teen Entrepreneurs To Apply For Handmade Scholarship For Young Arcade Creators
This article first appeared on Kidsburgh.org, a NEXTpittsburgh media partner that aims to make Pittsburgh a better place to raise children.
Trust Handmade Arcade to find a way to bring Pittsburgh’s young creators back into the mix – a big time.
With a successful small event for emerging creators held in August at Construction Junction, the organizers of Handmade Arcade are now gearing up for the Winter Marketplace and relaunching the Youth Maker scholarship program to provide young people with the top-notch interaction with customers that they want. ‘they have been waiting since the pandemic started.
“We want to make it as rewarding as possible,” says Tricia Brancolini-Foley, Executive Director of Handmade Arcade. “In the past we have had young designers who fall into all categories of our professional designers. It’s really fun and creative, in a way, because it brings a different feel, a more trendy and younger feel to the market.
Kidsburgh spoke with Brancolini-Foley about the organization’s plans to support young designers and entrepreneurs, ages 13-19, throughout the year.
Question: The Youth Maker scholarship program was virtual in 2020. What’s the plan for its reboot?
Reply: We launched the scholarship program in 2018 with two creators. We accepted 10 in 2019, then in 2020, we made a virtual marketplace. For 2021, we don’t know how many young designers we’re going to accept; we will see how many candidates we receive. Applications are open from now until Friday September 10, and those who are accepted will be notified on Monday September 13.
Q: What does acceptance into the program offer young designers?
A: They each get a $ 500 hardware allowance and they’ll get a free, standard-sized booth in the market. We want to make sure everything is fair and everyone is prepared, so we will provide them with tablecloths and help them set their tables. [An $8,000 grant from the Grable Foundation pays for these materials.] We will organize virtual sessions before the event to talk to them about marketing and setting up a booth. I would love to have it in person, but we want to make it accessible to all children. A lot of them are students with a lot of stuff to do, so if it’s virtual, we can record it and they can watch it when they have time.
All children will be assigned a professional manufacturer-mentor so that they can ask questions and work together on their products. Their mentors and I are available to help them prepare for the event. I will be doing weekly check-ins. When they apply, they provide photos of what they are making and they will need to make an inventory plan. We give them a timeline and send them “goals and milestones” to keep them on track, so they don’t scramble to get things done at the last minute.
Q: What’s new for the event at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center this year?
A: The event will be twofold – a virtual marketplace to be launched on Small Business Saturdays [Nov. 27] and cross Cyber Monday [Nov. 29]. Then the in-person event will start with a paid happy hour on Friday December 3rd, so we can control the crowd size but let people shop for two and a half hours – this is our only fundraiser of the year. On Saturday December 4, vendors will be at their kiosks for advance ticket purchases from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., before the event opens to the public from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. We will have Covid security protocols in place. At the Convention Center, these are great people to work with and the room we’re in is huge – it’s got high ceilings, good airflow – and we won’t have as many designers on the floor as we do. have had in the past so that we have more space between aisles and tables. If the going gets tough again with the pandemic, we’re not going to cancel; we could possibly do timed tickets where you sign up for shopping hours.
Q: Besides the money they can earn, what makes young people want to participate in Handmade Arcade?
A: The most important thing is having the interaction with the people who come to Handmade Arcade – it’s an invaluable experience. You cannot recreate it. And because it’s a holiday market, people want to buy things. They are very invested in the arts and culture of Pittsburgh and they want to support the creators. They like to see these young people come out and have an entrepreneurial spirit. One of the pillars of Handmade Arcade is our education component – both webinars and in person. We teach people about marketing and social media content; we do e-commerce. We go over the idea of making the most of the gift market, how to plan your business for the holiday market, and strategies to prepare yourself. We are talking about photography, which is so important in the digital age. And we’re talking about how to follow up and build customer loyalty. Along with young designers, we also teach them how to present at an event – set up a table and interact with the people who come to your booth. You have to smile, be friendly. People are more likely to buy things from someone saying hello than from someone sitting at their table looking at their phone.
Q: How many young designers do you foresee in 2021?
A: Our group of young designers is extremely diverse, in terms of origin and identity, and that sometimes plays a role in what they do – they express themselves in the art they create. So I’m always eager to see what the apps bring. We will have 10 tables reserved for them, although I expect requests to be less this year. Some of the summer camps we’ve worked with in the past have had to change models so we haven’t had that funnel this year. We’ve reached out to others who work with kids in this age group, and we’re also working with Artists Image Resource, Pittsburgh CAPA students, and Real World Scholars creators. And we are members of the Remake Learning network.
Maker spaces are just starting to reopen to young people. This year it will be a little more difficult to integrate the students, but we want the program to continue.