Who are the organizers of this market, and what are their roles?
The Big Gay Market is operated by two passionate LGBTQ+ artists, Ashley Shaw Adams (she/her) and Oliver DiPietro (they/them). They share the responsibilities of organizing the market, but also have other jobs, hobbies, and interests!
Adams is a watercolor artist, cat lover, parent, devoted partner, and hobby gardener. She owns and operates Shawpawprints Watercolor, where she paints the things she loves, including fantasy creatures, cats of all sizes, plants, landscapes, flowers, galaxies…the list goes on. Ashley works as an assistant in various Wisconsin photo studios and is a professional stop-motion animator. She has worked on globally promoted marketing campaigns and puts her skills to use promoting The Big Gay Market on social media and organizing the vendors.
DiPietro is the owner and artist behind the cute and crafty business, The Nifty Giftys Shop, LLC. Along with being an artist, they recently finished their MA in Gender and Women’s Studies at UW-Madison where they studied LGBTQ+ owned small businesses and found an interest in mutual aid and community care. Ollie handles a lot of the marketing and promotion for the event and recently won first prize at the Arts Business Competition where they presented The Big Gay Market to a panel of judges and was awarded $2,000 to support the organization.
Where did the idea for The Big Gay Market come from?
The idea started when Ashley noticed the lack of yearly events that center LGBTQ+ creators. When she pitched the idea of a LGBTQ+ market to an online forum, Ollie was quick to jump in and start planning. Because the market is so new, it’s still being developed and refined; however, the organization was built on a commitment to provide the Madison community with a fun and accessible event for everyone to attend, and the community has shown up in full force to support us!
Who are the participating vendors?
The vendors change with each event. We try to have 50 percent returning vendors at each show and 50 percent new vendors. This keeps the event fresh, and allows new artists a chance to vend at a Madison event. Unfortunately, we’re not able to take every vendor that applies to our shows because of the overwhelming interest, but we do offer a waitlist for vendors and prioritize waitlisted vendors for future shows.
What are your ongoing plans for The Big Gay Market?
We plan on keeping the event series in the Madison area for the next couple of years. We hope to grow the event so we can take more vendors and accommodate more community members; however, we also recognize that slow growth is important to small businesses. Future markets are scheduled for October 29 and December 2 at the Wisconsin Rugby Complex, and we hope to travel to different venues in Madison when we’re able to build the event.
How can people participate?
People are encouraged to follow our Instagram and Facebook for the most up-to-date information about the event. Most importantly, they’re encouraged to attend either as a vendor or as a participant! Getting more people to come to the event means that we can better support our local artists and beautiful queer community. Interested vendors should email [email protected] to get on our vendor mailing list for updates on open applications.