Bratz Biz celebrates 10 years 

Young entrepreneurs join artisan market Bizarre Bazaar at the Whistler conference Centre

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - SMALL BUsiness Teppei Onishi shows off his homemade driftwood trees at last year's Bratz Biz.
  • Photo submitted
  • SMALL BUsiness Teppei Onishi shows off his homemade driftwood trees at last year's Bratz Biz.

Bratz Biz is a tweenie.

The annual seasonal sale of high-quality crafts and goods made by youngsters has turned 10, a milestone that co-organizer Susan Shrimpton says is remarkable.

Started in 2006 by Whistler moms Shrimpton and Carmen Laslett, 33 businesses are taking part this year. Shoppers can purchase things such as greeting cards, pillowcases, bath accessories, pet products, and Christmas decorations.

"I think we started with modest expectations and the kids each year would present finer and more professional work," Shrimpton says.

"As we grew over the years, it grew into a very professional market. I think we surprised a lot of people because they were expecting popsicle sticks and pom-poms. That's not what they got.

"It is great for kids who are training to get part-time jobs, and it is great for family bonding. It might clutter up the dining room table for three months, but we've had just good feedback," Shrimpton adds.

Bratz Biz shares space with the Whistler Arts Council's (WAC) annual holiday artisan market Bizarre Bazaar at the Whistler Conference Centre on Saturday, Nov. 28, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 29, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is by donation and will go to support WAC's arts programming.

Nine-year-old Teppei Onishi is back for his fourth year, making Christmas trees out of driftwood. He researched the concept online with his mother first for good craft ideas.

"There's the base and then the little driftwood pieces. You drill holes through them and put them through a stick to keep them together. I put a star on them and you can hang them or move the sticks so they are pointing in different directions to make a tree," he says.Last year, he sold all 50 of his trees. This year he is making 65 — small ones are $15 and the larger ones are $25.

It's serious income, and Onishi says he uses it as his spending money — last year he bought an iPad. He says it's cool to be able to earn his own money and buy what he wants.

"It's fun to be in Bratz Biz. You get to talk to your friends and get more time with your mom on the day and when you are making your things," he says.

Seventeen-year-old competitive mountain biker Stephanie Denroche has participated in Bratz Biz for six years.

Each year, she chooses a different craft to make and sell at Bratz Biz, from bath salts to hot plates.

"I started to make jewelry from recycled bike parts," Denroche says in an email.

"Now I sell my jewelry in a local bike store (Cross Country Connection) and am looking to expand my sales in other stores. TaG Cycling in Vancouver has approached me and asked if I would consider selling in their training facility."

Now she is thinking about studying business at university.

"Bratz Biz has been an amazing adventure for me," said Denroche. "It has allowed me to experience the benefit of hard work and entrepreneurship. This year I am enrolled in Entrepreneurship 12 and I hope to learn how to further expand my business."

Says Shrimpton: "Stephanie is using her funds to compete. She's not the first athlete to use her money raised through Bratz Biz to pay for the expense of being a competitive athlete."

National Freestyle Team skier and Olympian Yuki Tsubota and luger Veronica Ravenna also used Bratz Biz to fulfill sporting dreams.

Shrimpton says she would like to see Bratz Biz expand to run throughout the year, and hopes opportunities like markets or other events might consider an ongoing Bratz Biz booth.

"Or if there are stores that would be willing to have craft displays, we have really talented kids who are interested in doing this year round," she says.

Bizarre Bazaar's artisans sell Christmas treasures

Handcrafted items are also being sold at Whistler's premier seasonal artisan market Bizarre Bazaar, now in its 27th year.

Over 100 artisans and artists are participating, selling paper goods, artisan foods, housewares, ceramics, bath products, jewelry, craft kits, accessories, clothing, knits, artwork, toys and holiday decorations.

"There's always a great mix of new and established vendors," says Anna Solich, the WAC's assistant programsn and events manager.

"We are one of the arts council's signature events and we've really seen it grow throughout the years."

She says she enjoys watching the young entrepreneurs of Bratz Biz mix with the more established vendors.

As well, the Bizarre Bazaar has launched larger companies, including Nonna Pia's Balsamic Reductions.

The market will also present family performers, carol singers and musicians throughout the weekend.

"We've also got face painting and balloon twisting and, of course, photos with Santa!" Solich says.

Also for sale at Bizarre Bazaar is Pique's newly published cookbook.

Chefs' Choice: A Whistler Cookbook is a compilation of recipes from restaurants and hotels around the resort.

It will be selling for $24.95.

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