￼iranda Mossburg has designed clothes, jewelry and accessories for her business Sweet As Sugarcane, since 2018, but during the pandemic, she partnered with her mother, Christy Mossburg, to launch Frederick Makers, a local online shopping platform.
By October 2021, the mother-daughter duo was ready to open the offshoot of that website, a brick and mortar shop called Frederick MADE. Located in downtown Frederick, the shop features work — mostly functional art and craft items — by artists in the DMV region and is open by appointment and for special events and workshops.
Sweet As Sugarcane items are now housed among work by dozens of other artists in the shop.
On April 1, Frederick MADE and Frederick Maker Market will officially merge and can be found online at frederickmade.com.
Miranda Mossburg, who has lived in the Frederick area her whole life and is currently based in Middletown, took a few minutes to tell us about Frederick MADE and its mission to connect and support artists and make “buy local” easier.
Do you plan to continue with your current business model — open by appointment and for popup events and workshops — or will you have more regular hours in the future?
We’ll be operating with our current model for the foreseeable future. We agreed when we decided to open that the traditional retail model didn’t work for us. Between COVID having such a big impact on how people shop and seeing how other markets similar to ours are successful in other cities, this model made the most sense.
We also wanted to take advantage of the rise in experiential shopping. While we focus on our artists, selling their products and connecting them with new customers, we’re also providing customers with the opportunity to slow down and make something while they visit, talk to our artists, and even build their own products. We want customers to feel they have experienced something special when they visit us.
If we ever move to a space that allows us to have more of an open artists marketplace, where artists set up a booth and manage their own sales, then we would likely expand our hours to at least be open every weekend.
Why did you choose Frederick to open a business? Do you live here as well?
I’ve lived here forever, but I definitely never planned on opening a business here! I actually spent last summer traveling back and forth to New York City for my personal store, and after my last market of the summer, we discussed how I was considering moving, unless we could create something new here for artists. The typical outdoor pop-up markets around here just weren’t working for me, and fortunately we had this opportunity where I could create something that would work for myself and other artists.
Why is it important to you to highlight locally made goods?
I know for me and many people of my generation [Mossburg is 24], it’s always something we’re both thankful and frustrated by — that we can order something we need and it arrives at our house the next day. Shopping has become so convenient with Amazon Prime and services like Shipt and Instacart, but it doesn’t make me feel good to buy products from Amazon when I know it’s something I could find made by someone locally.
One of the things I wanted to highlight when we started our Frederick Makers site was that you can buy everyday items you need from local artists, and it’s possible to get them in a fast, convenient way.
Additionally, as someone with a disability, I’m aware that there are many small businesses that exist partially due to [a health issue]. I have an autoimmune disease, as well as an autonomic nervous system disorder, POTS, and issues related to that. I used to try and stay away from talking about that but I do see so many artists that have similar issues and run their business, partially because they physically can’t manage a typical office job with traditional hours. So it’s important to me to recognize that and make sure that the opportunities we provide don’t isolate or exclude anyone because of their circumstances.
I’m currently not physically capable of working a 9-5 job, and I know that there are many others in the same position, and I’m very fortunate that I’m able to work for myself and not struggle, and I want to help those that need that flexibility in their life.
What do you look for when choosing products and makers to represent?
We try to have a well-balanced mix of products and artists. Ideally, we look for artists who we would have a mutually beneficial relationship with, where they already have established a good brand and presence and will refer their customers. But as a young artist, I really love working with people just starting out, or those that have been artists for a long time but are just beginning to turn it into a business. We try to make sure that the shop has a good mix of products and price ranges, so there’s something for everyone.
Tell me more about your motto: “Friends don’t let friends buy from chain stores.”
It’s mostly just our funny way of telling people to shop local. I know that big businesses like Target, HomeGoods and those stores employ people locally and employ a lot of people, which is obviously important, but it’s also super important to highlight small businesses. My philosophy is if you’re able to buy something from a small shop, do it. Large corporations have so much [financial cushion] that even if some people stopped buying from chain stores entirely, they wouldn’t struggle, but a bad year or even a few bad months can be detrimental to small businesses.
What have been some of your favorite workshops offered so far, and what is one or two you’re looking forward to?
Our workshops started in March, and we’ve got a great lineup. I’m mostly excited to launch our ArtBars, which is a more casual workshop. So there’s a project that you’ll get to make and take home, but it’s a simple enough project that you can drop in and do it without needing to sit down and be taught something.
I’m also very excited for our first of many paint and shop events, hosted by Christy, my mom and the other owner of Frederick MADE. Many people have asked about “paint nights,” and we’re excited to be hosting some variations on those, so in addition to acrylic painting projects to take home, we also plan to offer watercolor and colored pencil projects in the near future.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work?
I love getting to work with artists and seeing collaborations come together. We’re all about community and have been able to connect our artists so they can work together to make some cool things happen. It’s also really great to see customers who walk in and just get the concept and are thrilled to shop from a variety of local artists and know that whatever they purchase in our store, it’s made by an individual in the area.
This interview has been edited for space and clarity.