French Nest Open-Air Market promotes Colorado-based artisans

Elena Waldman

Vendor’s tents set up at the French Nest Open-Air Market in Civic Center Park on July 20. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

This past Saturday, the French Nest Open-Air Market came to the Fort Collins Civic Center Park, bringing in dozens of artisans to promote their hand-made goods. The fair, which occurs every third Saturday of the month from May to October, gives locals the opportunity to purchase hand-made or recycled goods, talk to friendly merchants, learn about the objectives of ethically sourced products, observe some of the artistic pieces offered and enjoy a beautiful day with the community. 

The French Nest Open-Air Market features everything from art and jewelry, to home decor and clothing. Andrea Brazil, a merchant representing Artisans Thrive, sells ethically made fair trade products as part of the organization’s mission to help women in developing countries make a steady income. While much of the merchandise is brought to and sold in the states, the organization gives 70% of all profits back to the women who make the products. 

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“A lot of times (in developing countries), women don’t have access to jobs, but if they earn an income, they are able to invest more into their family,” Brazil said. “We like to empower women, as we do see that they might be the change in that cycle of poverty.” 

The French Nest Open-Air Market will return Sept. 14. 

Artisans Thrive works with other Colorado-based non-profits to cultivate a catalog of products that are made by international artisans. All of the products, which are mainly clothing and accessories, are completely hand made and come from all over the world. 

“We work pretty closely with most of the groups: other fair-trade cooperatives that are more established,” Brazil said. “They’re doing all the direct work with the women, but we’re supporting what they’re doing.” 

Hand-made jewelry is a pretty rare find — especially the jewelry from Luna’s Secret Garden, another merchant at the French Nest Open-Air Market. Chelsea Linman, who founded the popup jewelry store from Boulder, makes nature-inspired necklaces, bracelets and earrings that are made with real plants. The pieces are each extremely unique, and the artist places a small flower or plant in a coat of resin to create a beautiful pendant. The process is incredibly intricate and time consuming, and Linman said coating the flowers with resin can take over a week to do. 

“Resin is unforgivable,” Linman said. “You have a really small amount of time the second you mix it, until it gets too sticky to keep using. … Resin takes several days to cure, so it’ll be very minimum a week … and that’s after waiting four weeks for it to dry.” 

For those who are interested in getting involved in the local artisan scene and finding one-of-a-kind products, the market will return Sept. 14 and Oct. 19 until next May. 

Elena Waldman can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @WaldmanElena.