You’re immersed by colorful beads, crochet beanies, and glitter. It’s a community of creative and welcoming people. If you’ve lived in San Luis Obispo for even a month, you might have found yourself at one of SLO’s frequent craft fairs.
I was blessed with the presence of Mia Lew, a Graphics Communication major at Cal Poly who not only manages her art business Mia Makes Ice, but also frequently organizes craft fairs within the community. These eventful spaces not only have served as showcases for local artists to feature and sell their work, but have also fostered connections amongst the countless creative entities and the supportive SLO community.
Throughout every craft fair she has organized, Mia has also recognized and prioritized the value and importance of supporting the entire community of SLO by always donating a percentage of revenue to various local nonprofits and movement organizers.
Mia’s crafting and entrepreneurial spirit started in middle school with bracelets and the renowned duck tape wallets. If you grew up in the 2000s, you know how valuable these wallets were on the market. Continuing forward, Mia knew she wanted to share her creative skills and passions. She slowly learned to navigate a world revolving around money, attempting to reconcile a necessity for currency with the importance of art.
It wasn’t until the summer before the pandemic that Mia really dove into the world of jewelry making. Her passion for creative projects inspired her to try out different styles and methods, eventually leading her to the desire to host craft fairs. Starting with beaded stuff, Mia’s jewelry making evolved into using resin which she found a lot of inspiration and love in.
“I love the ability to use whatever colors, patterns, textures, and then being able to build off your own pieces. It definitely hits on my graphic design background. Sometimes I make too many different things which aren’t all marketable, but I don’t want to be doing things that are always marketable,” Mia explains.
As COVID rates fell and restrictions loosened, Mia and a couple of friends started hosting long-awaited craft sales. Eventually Mia started hosting her own signature Bitching DIY sales. These events attract all kinds of artists and fans of homemade jewelry and art. With a focus on building community, Mia has made an effort to create spaces where people feel comfortable spending time with others as well as participating in giving back to the community. Many of these craft fairs partner with a specific organization to give a part of the profits made that day. Mia has collaborated with queer-based foundations such as GALA and groups that provide resources to the houseless community such as Echo and SLO Street Medics.
At the last Bitching DIY craft fair during the winter holiday season, they collected and donated over $600 worth of gifts for the Boys and Girls club gift drive through for families. Mia seeks more events like this in her remaining months in San Luis Obispo before she sets off to the wonderful land of Portland!
Desert Rose writes for the Content Team. They wrote the article. Caileigh Poeschl shoots for the Photo Team. She took the pictures.