FLEAKIN' OUT WITH Project handmade 

Project Handmade Co-op—a Denver design collective that celebrates the business of craft—came together in 2013. Founders Ericka Pardo and Heather Phifer saw potential in the merging of resources and a space for collaboration. As partners, they make handmade goods that they're passionate about, from appliqué aprons and vibrant-hued cloth napkins, to repurposed mobiles, banners, and everyday accessories. Together, they're a tried-and-true example that you can mix business and friendship. 

Words by Sam Alviani // Photos by Rachel Adams

What does PROJECT HANDMADE mean to you?

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Project Handmade means collaboration—as a team of two, we get the opportunity to bounce ideas off one another and give honest feedback on things that range from design ideas, to booth display, to social media content. Collaborating on new products gives us enormous joy and pride. Project Handmade means exploration, too. This handmade movement is so new and so rapidly evolving. We are thrilled to be a part of movement that brings value back to craftsmanship, creates soul-filling jobs to folks and delivers handmade products to local communities. Exploring this handmade world is challenging. Carving your way into an already diverse and sometimes saturated market is complex. Finding your way through the many jobs one maker is required to take on just seems smarter with two minds and four hands.  Like Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock say, “it takes two to make a thing go right”. We want to be inspired and provide inspiration. 

 

 

 

 

QUICK FACT #1

Wonderfully curated designer fabrics transformed into home accessories and apparel. 

QUICK FACT #2

Small scraps, big pride.    

QUICK FACT #3

Unique designs that bring style and cheer. 

HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?

Ericka: Project Handmade was born way before we actually met: we both started off developing individual brands years back at the cusp of the handmade movement in Denver.  We met in 2012 at a market as booth neighbors and used our idle time to chat. And like most conversations amongst fabric artists, we started talking about where we sourced our fabric.  We came to realize that we had so much to offer one another from our experiences in our own businesses.  And like they say, the rest is history! I got my start eight years ago when I started making aprons for Happy Cakes to sell in their shop in the Highlands. My brand penniolive.com has organically grown over the years, with some trial and error on products and selling venues.

Heather: I started Elevated Scraps six years ago when I decided to make a mobile for my yet-to-be-born niece.  From word of mouth, people started asking me to make custom nursery and home décor.  It’s grown from there into a more diverse home accessories line. Margo Belle was a fun way for me to fulfill my dream of being a fashion designer; simplicity was key and all-season attire a must!

WHAT IS PROJECT HANDMADE COMPRISED OF?

Project Handmade is comprised of two owners—Ericka Pardo and Heather Phifer—and three unique brands, PenniOlive, Margo Belle Designs and Elevated Scraps. Together, they blend into a cohesive and abundant array of products.

CAN YOU SPEAK TO THE FRIENDSHIP AND COMMUNITY THAT HAS FORMED?

When our talks of Project Handmade started, we definitely had to make sure that our friendship could withstand the professional nature of a partnership. You will often find us at Red Rocks swaying to music from the indie folk bands we love, skiing on weekdays as this lifestyle allows and sharing sushi for dinner. Our business meetings often last five minutes before they transform into a girls night out.  As market vendors, we call ourselves “carni’s"—it often feels like a carnival with the packing, loading, unloading, selling and just having a great time at the events. We love our carni friends as much as we love buying fabric and selling our wares. This carni community is so supportive and joyful to be apart of. It's hands-down better than any Corporate America experience.

ANY BRAND SUCCESS STORIES THAT COME TO MIND?

We are rewarded everyday by hearing customers comment about how cohesive our brands are together.  In most cases, you would never know that we were separate companies. The biggest smiles on our faces come from hearing that Colorado has embraced our brands and our biggest success would be our numerous repeat customers.

 

 

We are thrilled to be a part of movement that brings value back to craftsmanship, creates soul-filling jobs for folks and delivers handmade products to local communities.
— Ericka Pardo & Heather Phifer

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