Crysten Nesseth’s father taught her how to weld when she was 8 years old. It was a skill he passed down from his manufacturing business, and one she failed to pick back up until graduating college in 2012.
The Wisconsin native wasn’t sure what was in store for her after her stint at St. Olaf, so she went back to work for her father in the plant — in some cases, doing welding work that wasn’t up to snuff, she said.
“Because I’m an artist, [the lines] were never quite precise enough,” said Nesseth, founder of industrial scrap metal design company Iron Maid Art.
Nesseth displayed her handmade metal creatures, ranging from gardening tin men to dragons and robots, at Saturday’s third annual HAMMS event. The pay-to-shop event, which stands for “Help A Minnesota Maker Succeed,” acts as a crowdfunding market for emerging local entrepreneurs, said co-founder Becky Sturm.
About 40 vendors sold their jewelry, beauty lines, food and home products at Schmidt Artist Lofts in St. Paul. These smaller pop-up events are what got Sturm’s business running, she said, and are crucial for making a name for new entrepreneurs.
“There’s so much product out there, and so many stores are still buying goods from other countries because it’s cheaper to make,” said Sturm, who developed her own line called 3waybeauty. “This is a great way to target a customer who wants to shop local.”
Vendors are chosen to participate based on their social media presence and seriousness about their start-up. “Is this just a hobby or your livelihood?” Sturm asked. “We know how hard this is, so we want to make sure they’re trying to make this work.”
HAMMS — also a nod to its former location, the old Hamm’s Brewing shipping docks — donates as much as $5,000 in ticket sales to one lucky entrepreneur through a random drawing.
Mary Ann Schokmiller, of Mendota Heights, was drawn to the event after eyeing a promotional flier at a local bakery. She bought two of Nesseth’s original steel-cut ornaments — one of Italy, where she recently visited, and one of Lake Superior, which she frequented as a child.
Schokmiller loved that the figures were made of recycled scrap material.
“It’s whimsical. Not even construction wants [the materials] anymore,” she said.
Many of the product lines played on that market, turning trash into treasure.
Tammy Rice has made a living the last eight years by designing inner tube jewelry from old tractor, dump truck and bicycle tubes. She originally made beaded jewelry, but woke up one night with the idea.
“I wanted to make something different, and I wanted to make something recycled,” Rice said.
For novice crafters, the showcase allowed for more exposure and potential deals with wholesalers strolling through.
“We’re all learning; we’re a resource for each other,” said Todd Paulson of Dundry Hill, which makes handcrafted felt mobiles. “It’s just nice to know that you’re not alone.”