Hayley Matthews-Jones thrives on the energy she gets from project planning and connecting people. This work is her creative outlet. As the founder of two businesses—the Minneapolis Craft Market and the Minneapolis Vintage Market—and the COO of The Get Down Coffee Company, she seeks a constant flow of projects that allow fun cool stuff to happen. This constant action encompasses her ideal mix of innovation and logistics, “My brain loves that. I need both of those things to feel full.”
From her experience growing up in London, Hayley saw the lack of regular engagement opportunities for local makers through casual markets as a missed opportunity for the Twin Cities. Her background in event planning and a “why can’t I do that?” mentality inspired her to lay the groundwork for what became the Minneapolis Craft Market.
The Minneapolis Craft Market has a nimble model that allows makers to engage with a wider audience at a low-risk individual investment point. Ideally the Market is a testing ground; experienced makers try out new products and new makers get their start in this community space.
Over 1400 makers from all over Minnesota as well as the Dakotas, Iowa, and western Wisconsin are registered to participate in the regular markets. “We use the term ‘maker’ because I find that to be more inclusive. The artist or creator has to be the person coming up with the design and making the product,” explained Hayley. “We also feature fair trade artisans and things with up-cycled and sustainable materials.” Many of the current makers were inspired to apply by first attending a market as a shopper.
If you’ve never attended a Minneapolis Craft Market event before, be prepared to enter a unique space. Inspired by the historic Greenwich market, the Craft and Vintage Markets are modeled as street events. “It should feel like when you’re walking down a street in London. It’s busy. It’s bustling. There is street food, street music, street art—everything. The street feels alive.”
Since starting the Craft Market in 2015 and the Vintage Market in 2018, Hayley continues to be impressed with how much they’ve grown. “When we started the market it was at the beginning of the upswing of the locally-made movement. Consumers are a lot more conscious of what it means to spend a dollar locally,” reflected Hayley. “I think that’s great. More people are understanding why these markets exist and how they benefit their own community.”
Working with visionary people is a highlight of her professional roles. “Surrounding yourself with entrepreneurs and people who are making things, whatever that may be, is really invigorating.” Part of that invigoration comes from seeing makers in her network thrive and succeed. “Some people find other people’s success intimidating. For me, I’m like—yes! I’m the biggest cheerleader. I love to see other people doing well. If you’re doing good, I’m doing good.”
In addition to the in-person markets that resumed in June 2021 after a 17 month pandemic hiatus, there is also a digital marketplace (https://shop.mplscraftmarket.com) where shoppers can browse from over 250 Minnesota Makers.
Hayley launched the online portion of the business in the early days of the pandemic with support from her Lunar Startups cohort. Lunar’s coaching and the camaraderie of her cohort were key in her navigation of the major transitions that her businesses faced. She highly recommends seeking out coaching and mentoring for small business owners. “There’s a mindset shift when you start to run your own business. Part of the education I got at Lunar was what it means to truly own my business. There’s a tendency for women and people of color to undersell themselves. Lunar helped me to see that.”
Hayley reflected on what it means for her to be both an entrepreneur and a parent. “Entrepreneurship takes everything out of you. It gives so much too. The same way as parenting. My partner and I basically have a third child, which is the business. It needs nurturing, attention, and love. You just hope that you’re doing everything the best you can.”
When she’s not working, Hayley likes cooking and enjoying slow dinners with friends. When she feels like baking she reaches for a taste of home in her favorite shortbread recipe. Creating an in-home gathering space is Hayley’s long-term definition of success. “I want to have a big kitchen table that is the spot where everyone comes and eats. You have those long conversations and arguments. You celebrate meals and holidays. That’s my goal.”
Current schedule of Minneapolis Craft Market Events: https://www.mplscraftmarket.com/marketfeed or follow @mplscraftmkt
Current schedule of Minneapolis Vintage Market Events: https://www.mplsvintagemarket.com/eventsfeed or follow @mplsvintagemkt
Follow The Get Down Coffee Co at https://getdowncoffee.com or @thegetdowncoffeeco
To discover more local makers and growers, follow @meettheminnesotamakers by Michelle M. Sharp. Meet the Minnesota Makers was founded with the purpose of promoting and connecting the innovative makers and growers of the Land of 10,000 Treats.
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