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Conversations with Katie Mabry van Dieren

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Mabry van Dieren.

Hi Katie, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I was born and raised in Kansas City and attended Kansas State University. I graduated with a BA in Print Journalism and a Minor in French and lived in Europe and New Zealand before settling back in Kansas City. I have always been creative and have especially wanted to tell other people’s stories via photography and writing. I also have always loved to make things. When my friend Heather Baker started The Strawberry Swing in 2011, I was one of 25 makers who took part, selling our handmade items. Soon thereafter, she moved to Colorado and asked me if I would take the fair over. I took a leap and said yes and realized it was the perfect calling for me: I was surrounded by creatives and now had the opportunity to not only tell their stories but to help them make a living! I have grown The Swing from that first event with 25 makers to an event with almost 200 makers and 20,000 guests with makers nettings almost $3million in sales at our 2020 Holiday Market during the pandemic! I also pivoted during covid to create an online marketplace when we couldn’t have in-person markets called Shop Local KC, which is also now a retail brick and mortar with an adjoining artist studio for makers. Myself and a maker named Carly Rae Robinson have also formed a membership for makers called Craft Show CEO where we teach makers how to make money both online and at in-person events. It has been one of my favorite pivots. I see myself as a megaphone for makers and creatives and I have been shouting shop local kc from the rooftops since 2011. It’s a dream to see Shop Local KC on my brick & mortar, now.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It was not profitable for the first few years as I grew the fair via word of mouth and through social media. I believe it finally became profitable in 2014 for me as the owner/curator. Once I hit that level, I know I could continue to grow the Swing as my full-time job. I would have to say the biggest struggles have been weather! Holding outside events, you are literally taking a chance with the weather gods. It’s the most stressful part of my job 🙂

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am very proud of the community I’ve built via The Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair and Shop Local KC. I have had thousands of artists and makers take part in our events since 2011 and it has created a way of living for many creatives who can live out their dreams and support their families by selling their handmade in both my fairs and in my shop. It truly is the best feeling on earth!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
You can find us on Instagram and Facebook and our website has our events listed on it. Find our brick and mortar at 3630 Main Street, KCMO 64110

www.instagram.com/shoplocalkansascity

www.shoplocalkc.com

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