Lawrence’s first Inclusive Holiday Market draws crowd to more than 100 vendors

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Shoppers on Saturday turned out to support 107 diverse art and food vendors during the first Inclusive Holiday Market in Lawrence. 

Business owners showcased jewelry, paintings, ledger artwork, clothing, desserts, food, refreshments and more. Families lined up to visit and take photos with “SanDee Claus.”

Organizer Moniqué Mercurio (Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Nation) said Saturday’s turnout lit a fire of hope in her.

“This lets me know that if you build it, they will come. And I’m ready to build bigger things,” Mercurio said. “Something that I noticed right away when the vendors were moving in is the camaraderie that I have not noticed at any other event. The way that they came in feeling so welcomed into this space, they just didn’t need to present in a certain way.”

Mercurio, owner of MercTribe Designs, said they saw a need for more authentic spaces in Lawrence where BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) business owners could sell their work during the holiday season.

After meeting Taylor Overton, president of Black:30, at Black:30’s first Black Business Market in August, the two joined forces to plan the Inclusive Holiday Market.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Taylor Overton, at left, and Moniqué Mercurio

Art Love Collective, where Mercurio is the community outreach director, served as the event sponsor. The entire Lied Center of Kansas was reserved for the event, with vendor booths lined up on all three levels.

Accessibility for vendors was a high priority for organizers. Those selling their work at the market didn’t have to pay any vendor fees, and tables and supplies were provided for free. Overton said she hopes the Inclusive Holiday Market serves as proof of what can be accomplished looking forward in Lawrence.

“We’re able to start to shift some of those norms for vendor markets,” Overton said. “It’s really creating a best practice and framework that hopefully more other organizations can start to adopt so all of these vendors that are represented here today can continue to share themselves and share their products with the community.”

Vivian Weifang Gong

Fiber artist Vivian Weifang Gong said that in Chinese culture, fabric dyeing has intricate steps that have been passed down through generations.

“I’m really interested in traditional techniques,” Gong said. “I don’t want people [to forget] those things.”

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Vivian Weifang Gong

Shibori dye produces very detailed patterns, whereas tie dye creates swirled designs, Gong said in reference to her fabric artwork. She demonstrated the various ways her handmade scarves can be worn — tied around the neck or head, draped over the shoulders, wrapped into a top and others.

Sustainability is important to Gong when executing her work. Since chemical textile dyes, fabric debris and plastics can pollute wastewater, she uses natural plants collected from the environment to dye textiles. She also reuses textile scraps, plastic shopping bags, coffee filter papers and metal window screens to create new art projects.

Learn more about Gong’s art journey, including her dyeing processes, on her website,

Sherell’s Custom Treats

Sherell Yarbough bakes cookies and cakes with ease. But first, she sets the mood with some R&B throwbacks.

“I have a whole routine,” Yarbrough said. “I put on my ’90s R&B, and I go to work. It motivates me, and I get it done. I definitely dance a little in the kitchen as I’m preparing.”

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Sherell Yarbough

Yarbough launched her sweet treats business, Sherell’s Custom Treats, in August this year, but she’s been baking for years. Her favorites, which are also her top sellers, are her strawberry jello crunch cakes and Reese’s cupcakes. This holiday season, she added hot cocoa bombs to her repertoire. The ball melts into hot milk or water to create a cozy drink.

“I’ve been receiving so much positive feedback from everyone, so being here and getting everyone’s feedback and me having returning customers come to me and buy my treats is just great,” Yarbough said.

Brandt Minden Art

For Brandt Minden, the feeling of being a part of the Inclusive Holiday Market on Saturday coincided with his feelings about living in Lawrence.

“I love Lawrence because of the community and the people,” Minden said. “I really feel like I belong here.”

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Brandt Minden

Owner of Brandt Minden Art, Minden’s passions are photography and painting. His paintings are inspired by geometric patterns and vibrant colors, and he loves to utilize rainbows because “they bring a lot of people joy,” he said. In photography, his eye draws to nature, flowers and the sky as well as capturing the beauty of all four seasons.

Minden remembers always being artistic. For the past two or three years, however, he’s gotten more serious about his craft, and he recently became a member of Art Love Collective.

“I’m very proud of the journey that I’ve been on,” Minden said. “I feel like over the past year, I’ve really grown a lot as an artist and a person. I’ve met a lot of people [and] come out of my comfort zone.”

Follow Minden on Instagram, @brandtmindenphotoart, and TikTok, @brandtmindenart. See his work at Art Love Collective, located at 646 Vermont St. in downtown Lawrence.

Falon’s Creations

Falonda Henry (Navajo) reflected on her growth from learning how to bead last year to selling her pieces Saturday at her second art vendor market. 

Based in Gardner, Henry began Falon’s Creations a couple months ago, making and selling earrings and more. Her mother encouraged her to start beading in December of last year, and now she’s fluent with different techniques. Diné basket weaving patterns and fire colors fuel her inspiration.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Falonda Henry, at right, helps customers during Saturday’s market.

Since learning how to bead, Henry’s mother has died, and her craft has become therapeutic for her. It’s a way to feel connected to her mom when she’s feeling sad, she said.

Henry’s first time as an art market vendor was at Haskell Indian Nations University’s Holiday Bazaar on Dec. 2. She said as a new art vendor, she’s found comfort in spaces with other Indigenous artists. The inclusivity and accessibility she found with Saturday’s Inclusive Holiday Market was no exception to that feeling of comfort.

“I got lucky because I know a lot of the places — they charge, and this is free,” Henry said. “And not only that, but this is my first big event, so I’m just trying to just have fun. And I get to be here with my family.”

Follow Falon’s Creations on Instagram, @falons.creations.


Savanah McGowen, owner of McIllustrate, taps into their witchy side through art.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Savanah McGowen

McGowen has turned their original drawings into prints, featuring fantasy characters and themes, such as Dungeons and Dragons. Along with witchy items, McGowen makes jewelry, including their favorite, mushroom necklaces.

Based in Kansas City, McGowen heard from a friend about the Inclusive Holiday Market happening in Lawrence. Being in a welcoming environment was an honor, they said.

“Everyone is so nice,” McGowen said. “I celebrate Christmas and stuff but also I am like a fledgling witch and do pagan stuff as well. So a lot of that stuff was not super accepted at other markets.”

Follow McIllustrate on Instagram, @smcgowenart, and TikTok, @mcillustrate.

Drygulch Leatherworks 

Adam McQuarrie has an appreciation for quality leather. 

That stems from a childhood memory. Adam recalls one summer break when his stepmother introduced leatherwork to him and his siblings. Although his siblings weren’t so impressed, he fell in love with it. In 2006, he bought the tools and supplies to make his first belt.

“It’s a form of meditation,” he said. “One of the things I love about being able to create and do things with my hands is all of these things that are hand sewn, I can sit down and shut my brain off and just work on sewing it.”

Adam, owner of Drygulch Leatherworks, creates and sells leather wallets, belts, bags, journals and more. Most of his items are hand stamped and hand sewn. On some pieces, he incorporates skull symbols — his favorite touch.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Laurel McQuarrie, at left, and Adam McQuarrie

Adam’s daughter, Laurel McQuarrie, has her own branch of the business, too: Dragonflygulch Leatherworks. She wove some leather keychains for Saturday’s market and is currently making a leather woven belt at home.

Since leatherwork is his hobby, Adam’s built up quite an inventory over time. He finds peace in his workshop, strumming up ideas and testing wallet designs that will conveniently fit all his cards. The more efficient a product is, the better, in Adam’s mind.

Based in Baldwin City, Adam has operated Drygulch Leatherworks since 2008, intermittently. He recently shifted to running the business full-time rather than part-time as a hobby and side gig. He hopes to have his website up and running soon.

Learn more about Drygulch Leatherworks on its Facebook page, Drygulch Leatherworks, and Instagram page, @drygulch_leatherworks.

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Molly Adams / Lawrence Times SanDee Claus and a young Grinch are photographed by MC Photography.
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Aiyana Jack of Forever Flowering Designs shows the difference between dyed and non-dyed porcupine quills.
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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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