MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The dining area of the Officers’ Club aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune was transformed into a crafts bazaar this weekend as part of Hidden Talents Fall Craft Fair Nov. 17 and 18.
Eighty-eight crafters were on hand to sell products of their trade and creativity to include knitted clothes, hand-painted signs, and other wares and trinkets on display in 124 booths.
“We love the craft show,” said Cheryl Stewart who drove from Louisiana to sell her crafts. “We love making the products. We are a Marine family. The main thing for us is making a quality product for military families at a price they can afford.”
Stewart, whose husband spent 30 years in the Marine Corps, has taken part in the craft fair for the last 20 years. During that time she also worked as an assistant volunteer manager for Hidden Talents, the craft shop aboard the base that sells crafts made by the local military community. Taking part in the semi-annual craft fair is more than a selling opportunity.
“(Visiting for the Craft Fair) is like coming home,” said Stewart. “We lived on base for eight years. It brings a lot of joy to drive through the neighborhoods and see all of the faces of Marines we knew.”
Some crafters were military spouses who created their own business as a flexible means to make money.
“Some of us like to be creative and help out our families,” said Heather Archut. “I’m a work-at-home mom and I like to help bring in income.”
Making crafts is a labor of love for the sellers. Many spend months preparing their products.
“I love crafting and creating something people can have,” said Amanda Kelly. “If you can send your deployed family members something handmade, where a lot of thought was put into it, it helps creates a bond. It connects people.”
Kelly creates greeting cards by hand stitching art onto them, such as images of intricate fans reminiscent of antiques and a brightly colored squawking rooster.
She took advantage of the opportunity to network and learn from other crafters about marketing.
“Etsy’s great and Facebook is great, but seeing the people who made the crafts and getting to talk to them is amazing,” said Kelly.
The craft fair does something the base store next to Subway, does every day. It provides the military community a way to appreciate art, conduct business, and support military families. Proceeds from the event also provide scholarships for military dependants.
For more information on Hidden Talents call 451-2658.