Vancouver’s annual Nifty for Fifty sale returns for its ninth year at Heritage Hall (3102 Main Street) from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. this Sunday (April 10), when 30 local designers will be hawking a range of handmade home and fashion goods for—you guessed it—no more than $50 a pop. It’s Boxing Day in April with a homegrown twist, and as any experienced shopper will attest, the sale needs to be approached with a well-considered plan.
Luckily, we’ve done some of the homework for you: here are three new vendors to beeline once the doors open at this year’s blowout.
Two years ago, designer Bayoush Mengesha travelled to Bali, India, and Guatemala, where she encountered women in remote communities who had an exceptional eye for design. As a way to meld her interests in handmade jewellery and nonprofit work, she created Devi Arts Collective to incorporate the vibrant pieces produced by these artisans.
“I’ve actually had the privilege to travel and work with every individual that’s featured with us at the moment,” she tells the Straight by phone, “so I have a personal connection with everyone who we work with.”
The designer’s beaded necklaces, washed in shiny golds and vivid indigos, use jewels prepared by a third-generation gemstone-cutting family in India; mala beads, traditionally reserved for prayer and meditation, are carefully constructed by a stay-at-home mother in Bali. Beyond jewellery, Mengesha has also experimented with handbag production, fashioning a range of patterned purses, wristlets, and clutches from hand-dyed fabrics spun by weavers in Guatemala.
At Nifty, she’ll have jewellery, scarves, and yoga and toiletry bags on display, all starting at $5, plus mini jewellery-making kits for anyone who’d like to try his or her own hand at the craft.
Like many people around these parts, local designer Fiona Lou describes herself as an avid yogi, and it’s this passion that serves as the root of her apparel company, Karmala Designs.
“I became interested in yoga when I was training with a teacher in L.A. and I was just so inspired by it,” she explains, “and because I like to make and create, it just kind of took off on its own.”
Lou’s silkscreened Ts and pants are designed and hand-printed in Vancouver. Each garment is adorned with a mandala or a single word, like bliss, love, or Namaste, in a Sanskrit-inspired font that the designer first sketches. She even prints adorable baby onesies with the feel-good words, as well as a set of handcrafted sterling silver medallions.
Lou will be debuting a new yoga pant at Nifty emblazoned with her signature calligraphy. She also reveals that she is slowly switching from cotton to a breathable bamboo fabric, which means clear-out prices for shoppers who are interested in nabbing pieces from Karmala’s past and current collections.
Jewellery-maker Karly Thompson began her practice out of necessity: she had lost one of her favourite earrings and was determined enough to replace it with a creation of her own.
Eight years later, the self-taught designer continues to craft jewellery by hand under her label, She’s So. Her pieces combine brass chains, weathered vintage keys, and icy clusters of quartz so naturally that they appear freshly plucked—and unadulterated—from the earth.
Lately, Thompson has been drawn to raw Ethiopian opals, aura quartz, and amethyst, which she sources from an annual gem and mineral show in Tucson, Arizona. “I like to handpick everything; I don’t like to do a lot of ordering online,” she says. “Being able to have that opportunity once a year to handpick all my crystals, stones, and gems is pretty awesome.”
The designer will be offering shoppers an assortment of old and new stock at Nifty, including brass earrings, necklaces, and her best-selling crystal rings and studs, all starting at $10. You’ll also find her latest pieces: triple-band 14-karat gold and silver stacking rings that are meant to be mixed and matched.