‘Yo Mama’ grows up
Jersey City craft organization expands, partners with city groups
by E. Assata Wright
Reporter staff writer
May 17, 2012 | 4007 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THAT… Last year, Adam Levine (left) of Fluffy Goodness sold his unique brand of small cuddly stuffed creatures, popular with young and old. “Yes, we do have regular customers who say they collect them,” Levine said.
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If it seems like your favorite Jersey City craft artists are making the rounds a little more often than they have in the past, it’s not your imagination – they are. In the last five months alone, there have already been several craft-related events in Jersey City, even though peak craft season has yet to officially begin. And thanks to the locally-based arts organization Not Yo Mama’s Affairs, there’s going to be a lot more where these events came from.

Organization co-founder Megan Gülick said the group is this year making a concerted effort to be a major player on the Jersey City arts scene.

“The organization went through a reorganization that year,” said Gülick. “After our third annual event (the popular Not Yo Mama Craft Festival), I decided that I wanted to take the leap and make this a full-time job. So, we are now making a concerted effort to raise the visibility of the organization and be a regular presence throughout Jersey City on a more regular basis.”
Hundreds of people turned out for the third annual Not Yo Mama’s Craft Fair.
In previous years, Gülick and the collective behind the Not Yo Mama’s Affairs hosted the annual Not Yo Mama Craft Festival each summer, a popular and successful arts and craft-oriented fair held downtown. The event regularly attracted dozens of dozens of vendors from as far away as Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania and drew hundreds of participants from the community. The event was always one of the big highlights of the Jersey City summer calendar.

The event typically left both the community and vendors longing for more.

Jersey City becoming an arts destination

“It was recently reported that Jersey City is one of the top cities for the arts, and that really is true. There really is a love and appreciation for the arts here, and there is also a real sense of community in Jersey City, particularly downtown, and you’re beginning to see that also in the [Jersey City] Heights,” said Michelle Mumoli, who Gülick invited to join Not Yo Mama’s Affairs.

“So we decided we really wanted to do a lot more, both for the community and for the vendors we work with. Our vendors aren’t just crafters and artists, but they’re also businesspeople who rely on their work to support themselves. We really love pushing small businesses.”

Mumoli and Gülick work with a regular pool of vendors from Jersey City and elsewhere who are interested in showing and selling their handmade work locally year round. These artists include jewelers, toymakers, wood carvers, potters, ceramicists, knitters, and other craft artist. The women have now organized several events this that will enable these vendors to have greater access to customers, and will make it easier for customers to find their favorite products from these artists.

“On June 3 we’ll be partnering with Bike JC for their annual Ward Tour,” said Mumoli. “They’ve done the Bike Tour for a few years now but they wanted to have a bigger finale to the event, which ends at Exchange Place. They asked if we would work with them on that. So we will be holding a big festival as part of their Ward Tour finale. Similarly, we’ve partnered with Art House Productions to co-host other arts-related events that allows us to support other institutions in Jersey City, while also getting increased support for our vendors.”

Some of the craft artists affiliated with Not Yo Mama’s Affairs will participate in the Everything Jersey City festival, taking place this Saturday (May 19) in the Jersey City Heights. The organization will host a “trunk show” in Hoboken at the W Hotel on Thursday, May 24. And the Not Yo Mama’s collective will for the first time put in an appearance at the annual Festa Italiana hosted by Holy Rosary Church.

This mutual support, Gülick and Mumoli said, allows different segments of the community to come out to support and be introduced to events they may not have known about previously.

The duo, however, insists that Yo Mama events will maintain their identity and won’t get lost in the shuffle. Next month the organization will still hold its annual Not Yo Mama Craft Festival, on Saturday, June 23, although this year the event will be known as the Not Yo Mama’s Blitzcraft.

“There will still be music. There will still be fun and food,” said Gülick. “For anyone who has attended our events in the past, it’s going to be the same as before – just bigger and, hopefully, better.”

E-mail E. Assata Wright at awright@hudsonreporter.com.

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