First FoCo Femme Fest debut encourages women to collaborate

Elena Waldman

Fort Collins Femme Fest hosted women artisans and artists in the golden-hour lit loft of Wolverine Farm Letterpress and Publick House Friday.

As the first Femme Fest, the goal of the event was to create an inclusive space and promote women-led businesses and music. Plants and jewelry were showcased and sold by local shops Beyond the Pale Goods and Chez Flora, respectively, which was paired with music by Madelyn Burns, Adrienne Rae Ash and Hanna Doreen Brown.


Nika Linn, who runs interior design and plant business Chez Flora, has been operating her business for nearly a year now. Along with doing houseplant consulting, going into people’s homes and giving them advice for designing with plants that will complement the space, Linn does pop-up sales like the one at Femme Fest.

Plants lined up together on a table.
Chez Flora is a local business for interior design with a focus on plants. (Elena Waldman | The Collegian)

 “I studied botany at (Colorado State University), and it’s a great way to share my love with the world,” Linn said. “A lot of people want to be into plants and have house plants in their home but have no idea where to start.” 

Like most first-time events, Femme Fest is starting out modest but certainly shows promise of a growing audience. 

“It’s mostly friends that we know for this first event, and hopefully it will grow, and we’ll have more people and different artisans and have it be more diverse and bigger as we keep going,” Linn said. 

Riley Furmanek makes jewelry out of articulated skeletons for her business, Beyond the Pale Goods. The artisan paired her strangely elegant aesthetic with Linn’s plants to create an eclectic display. The jewelry is all handmade by Furmanek, along with the modish glass cases in which the jewelry is presented. Femme Fest was Beyond the Pale Goods’ second official pop-up shop, and the outcome reminds her of the importance of supporting local handmade goods. 

Madelyn Burns’ album can be streamed on Spotify, Chez Flora can be followed @chezflora on Instagram and Beyond the Pale Goods can be followed @beyondthepale.goods on Instagram.

“I think Fort Collins really speaks to community in general, and it has a lot to do with these events,” Furmanek said. “It shows a lot of support for people. Events like this bring everybody together and show the meaning and importance of connecting with one another.” 

Burns played an acoustic set from her EP “Story of Azure,” which was soft and delicate like the atmosphere. She took some time to talk about her songwriting process and inspiration with a few of her tracks. “Azurite,” named after the deep blue mineral, is inspired by a lover with blue eyes.

Jewelry made out of bones placed in glass box displays.
Riley Furmanek makes jewelry out of bones for her business, Beyond The Pale Goods. (Elena Waldman | The Collegian)

“I just really like blue eyes,” Burns said. “I wrote this song for the good side of love, for the gentle side.” 

In addition to the art itself, Femme Fest aims to promote the collective work of women. Inclusive spaces like this aren’t about competition, but rather collaboration. 

“I think it’s really important for women-owned businesses to work together,” Linn said. “I love working with other people who are like-minded and have similar challenges to overcome, and similar experiences in past jobs and other creative spaces that they’ve been, and haven’t felt like they can really show what they can do because of whatever societal norms. … It’s really fun to be in a space (where) we’re all here to support each other. … It’s not competitive.” 


Elena Waldman can be reached at or on Twitter @WaldmanElena