Our 2nd annual betsy & iya Bazaar is just around the corner on February 25, 2017. If you're curious how the heck all these beautiful handmade goods end up at b & i, look no further. Our dynamic duo, Suzy (Retail Manager & Buyer) & Sara (Customer Service & Wholesale Account Manager), headed out to the Tucson Gem Show earlier this month to meet our long-time vendors and friends to pick out all the beauties we think you'll love. While the rest of us huddled inside waiting out the end of this cold Oregon winter, they were having fun in the sun. Check out their photo journal with first-hand comments from Retail Manager & Buyer, Suzy, for a look behind the scenes at their trip. 

Day 1:

Sara, salsa and chips at Penca in downtown Tucson.  The plane landed at lunchtime, so our first stop had to be a taco spot (priorities!). We fueled up for our first big day of buying - vintage turquoise jewelry, beaded Navajo jewelry and hair accessories, and wool rugs were in our future.

 

A small sample of vintage turquoise rings we picked out from one of our favorite vendors, John and Luke (pictured below).

 

John and Luke, father and son owners of a shop in New Mexico that specializes in Native American vintage jewelry and contemporary beaded work. John's wife is Navajo. Their daughter makes a lot of their beadwork and they source other beaded pieces from local craftspeople.

 

The Tucson Gem Show is only part of the experience, vendors like Roy (above) set up little booths all around the city. The laying of the rugs in the Carl's Jr. parking lot has become a tradition with Roy. These are wool Baluchi rugs - we've got such a gorgeous collection of them this year.

 

Dinner, day one. Betsy took me to La Cocina last year when I went to Tucson with her.  I had to initiate Sara into the post-buying Margarita ritual.

 

Day 2:

 Astou Dioum's booth is such a happy sight. This is the third year we've met with Astou and are always glad to see her smiling face. Astou's project, Dioum Basket, connects craftswomen from West Africa to a global market. Her proceeds go to training these women and helping them turn their skilled craft of basket weaving into a sustainable income to improve their standard of living.

 

Sara showing Astou a photo of baby Sidney. Astou gave us one of her beautiful baskets to take home to Betsy, Will, and Sidney.

 

Betsy shared this photo of baby Sidney in her Dioum Basket a few days after we returned with it. Doesn't baby Sidney look adorable???

 

Bracelets from Mali and Burkina Faso, also from Astou.

 

Sara's checking out textiles at one of my favorite booths at the African Market. There's a row of booth vendors who are cousins. I'm fond of the goods they sell, but I also love that they all live on the same street in the Bronx, NY, which is just a few blocks away from the elementary school where I taught for nine years in my former life.

Tons of indigo cloth and other textiles from Burkina Faso.

 

New to us this year! Baskets from Uganda that blew us away. The colors and patterns are so different than anything we've carried before. 

 

Left to right: Sara, Hamidou, and Ebrima. Hamidou sells the baskets from Uganda - this was his first year at the market. We were introduced to him by Ebrima, who we've been buying from for years. Ebrima's booth is a couple down from Hamidou's. We get the brass cuff bracelets (a special small one was gifted to Sidney), beads from Ghana, and some indigo cloth from Ebrima.

 

Ebrima's beads from Ghana.

 

Vibrant beads and brass bangles from cousins Ebrima and Karim. We've been buying pieces from them for years now. They were sweet enough to send home the teeniest little brass cuff for baby Sidney's wrist!

 

The market where vendors from all over Africa set up booths. 

 

Day 3: 

View from one of my favorite breakfast and lunch spots in Tucson: Five Points.  Are there more photos of where we ate and drank than what we bought?!?

 

Sara gets down to business at ShipHaus. She's got African cloth packed around some special goods from Pakistan - red wooden boxes and brass bowls (new to the Bazaar this year!).

 

African cloth (which sold out in the first hour of the b&i Bazaar last year) protecting goods from Pakistan and Native American jewelry. 

 

Sara and I have those big smiles because we're bringing so much goodness back to betsy & iya and we got it all to the shipper with a few hours of daylight to spare.

 

Once the goods were dropped off, I needed to get to work on creating purchase orders so all the goods could be received into our system, and Sara had wholesale and other items to work on. Bringing the laptops poolside seemed like the appropriate thing to do.

Thank you, Tucson!

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