Subscribe to "Escondido Business Insight" for more stories like this delivered monthly to your inbox.

The Craft: Modern Maker Market Blends DIY with Homesteading 

Modern Maker Market owners, Heather and Scott Bates

From bath bombs to hand-made wreaths, kombucha, and soap, the Do-it-Yourself (DIY) crafts market is going gangbusters. In fact, the crafting industry is worth more than $40 billion, and it continues to grow (thanks Pinterest!). Following that trend, DIY workshops and storefronts are popping up around the country to fulfill the creative drive of the next generation of crafting hobbyists. 

At the Modern Maker Market in Escondido, for example, hobbyists and homesteaders gather at various monthly workshops for DIY dishwasher powder, natural dyes, macrame plant hangs, gluten-free bread making, kimchi, gin, and much more. 

But this unique boutique is more than just a place for DIY enthusiasts to congregate and learn.  A big selection of organic herbs and other apothecary, artisan crafts, as well as other goods and supplies line the shelves of this quaint and welcoming shop on Grand Avenue. Modern Maker Market’s owners, Heather and Scott Bates, also use their shop to promote an eco-conscious and healthy lifestyle. 

Herbs on display inside Modern Maker Market

“Modern Maker Market was born out of our own journeys of trying to be healthier, do better for our kids, and be more conscious of our impact on the Earth,” Scott said.  “Over the past handful of decades, collectively, we have made a culture of convenience.  But from that convenience has come a sort of disconnect with our own world and the how and where the products we use come from.  As a result, we definitely see people coming to us with this interest to ‘make something’ again.  There’s this growing understanding that you can make it - or buy it already made - but from somebody small and local. And whatever it is, it’s made in a more natural or healthier or more sustainable and less processed way.  That is exceedingly appealing to more and more people these days.”

The Bates’ opened Modern Maker Market in June 2018 (originally around the corner on Juniper Street) after noodling on the idea for about five years.

“We had some inspiration from a similar shop in Oregon, and Heather has also always had this entrepreneurial drive to do our own thing and it seemed like a good time to take a swing at it,” Scott said, adding that he and his wife first met in college at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ.

In terms of gathering people for craft making, the market is definitely ripe. 

According to the Association for Creative Industries, 62% – nearly two-thirds – of U.S. households participate in one crafting hobby. Even more surprising is that crafters don’t stick to just one craft but participate in multiple crafting hobbies. Only 16% of the crafters engage in one craft, while 39% participate in two-to-four, and 45% are involved in five or more creative hobbies.

Modern Maker Market holds about three workshops a month, each attracting four to 12 people each.  Making sourdough, kombucha, and naturally dyed textiles, as well as the coffee tasting and cold-brew how-to,  have been some of the more popular workshops.

“We want our workshops to be something where you can really be hands-on and interact with the instructor,” said Scott, who is originally from Pullman, Wash.  while Heather hails from Simi Valley, Calif.  “It gets harder to do that if you have too many people. The highest percentage of attendees are local from North County.  But we’ve had people attend workshops coming from all over the county, as well as Orange, LA, and Riverside counties.  As for instructors, we teach some workshops ourselves and have outside vendors teach as well.”

Inside Modern Maker Market

The couple, who moved to Valley Center about four years ago, chose Escondido for their DIY market because it’s where they shop - for everything.  Scott said the City of Escondido’s business-friendly approach has made them feel welcome. 

“Katherine (Zimmer) at Visit Escondido has been great to us and she’s clearly a great resource for businesses in downtown Escondido,” he said. “We also joined MAGEC, and I think their ‘2nd Saturday’ events are very positive for Escondido. The City’s continued support of MAGEC is something I definitely hope continues.”

The shop's Escondido storefront

Scott also said Downtown Escondido is the perfect venue for a unique business like Modern Maker Market.

“Anything in the natural, sustainable sector is something people falsely believe can only exist in Encinitas or North Park,” he said. “The reality is that there are a lot of people that want those things right here in Escondido and North County in general.  So, anybody, ourselves included, bringing that sort of thing to Escondido is positive for the community. The other aspect specific to our business is that we believe there’s an important educational component we can offer to our customers by still having conversations with people, rather than just buying things on the Internet.  Our workshops are about sharing the knowledge of a certain skill with the community, but we also encourage people to come into the shop and ask us questions.”

Scott looks forward to not only seeing their business grow but also growing Downtown. “We’re still a little too new to have seen much more than construction projects happening,” he said.  “But development is obviously a precursor to growth, so there is definitely the sense that growth is coming. We’re excited to be a part of that.”

Learn more at Visit Escondido.

Subscribe to "Escondido Business Insight" for more stories like this delivered monthly to your inbox.