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Previewing and Examining the Origins of DC Brau’s Holiday Marketplace

Just as business owners across the nation gear up for Thanksgiving and the inevitable shopping frenzy that follows suit, a growing collective of DC makers are bringing their crafts into the spotlight.

For the fourth year, DC Brau Brewing Company is teaming up with Think Local First DC for the annual Made in DC Holiday Marketplace, hosted at the brewery on Small Business Saturday (November 26, 2016). This year’s holiday market is bringing together nearly 30 entrepreneurs, four food trucks, and one local musician for an afternoon celebrating local artisans.

Mari Rodela, Chief Community & Culture Officer at DC Brau, says the idea for the holiday market grew out of her involvement with Think Local First in 2013, when she joined the organization’s board of directors. At the time, Think Local was promoting local businesses mostly through Twitter storms of “shop here” posts and popups at brick and mortars around the city. Having just launched the “Made in DC” brand that same year, Think Local was positioned for something bigger to drive consumers and their dollars to support the district’s economy.

Like most local breweries, DC Brau supports entrepreneurship and community arts undertakings as a means to strengthen local business. “One of the values of our company is to be community-driven,” says Rodela. DC Brau’s pride in the District’s creative community made the brewery a natural venue to showcase that talent. “We’re in a space where we can celebrate our community – who we are and what we offer as community,” Rodela explains.

Since 2013, DC Brau has helped showcase that local pride by offering the brewery as a venue for the market, which has grown from a small cluster of ten vendors and no food trucks to a diverse display of artistry. Langdon Wood: Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup has participated in all four markets and will feature its new line of hot sauces at this year’s show. Newcomers like Grip Unlimited, which designs handmade bike bags, join the vendor lineup through DC Brau connections, while Yinibini Baby’s clothing and accessory line is of particular interest to brewery staff. “There are lots of babies in the Brau family,” said Rodela.

While DC Brau is cooking up its fourth release of Alpha Domina Mellis (ADM4), the brew won’t be ready in time for the market. “We get crazy when we have releases,” Rodela said. “We keep the focus on crafters.”

While vendor participation in the market is invite-only, Rodela says many crafters reached out with interest in being involved. “We love that this is our fourth year and that we have a sense of tradition built around the market – now more than ever. Vendors and people shopping are really looking forward to the event.”

Leading the brewery’s operations and initiatives for community involvement, Rodela’s day-to-day work at DC Brau combines her love of craft beer and community organizing. The holiday market takes it to the next level. “Through the market, we’re creating pride in the DC community and around the fact that things belong to us as a city,” she added. “We’re stronger when we work together.”

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