City Counc. Mary-Margaret McMahon (left), The Nooks owner Colleen Imrie (second from the left), Tara Jeronimus (second from the right), and Laneway project co-founder Michelle Senayah pose at Saturday's nookFEST

nookFEST brings together artisans and entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur Sean Kung’s concrete homeware business, 1842, acts as a physical outlet for his creativity.

Compared to his “boring adult job” in digital media, creating concrete planters and lights is “a way to get that hands-on tangible work in,” he said.

Kung was one of more than 40 vendors at this year’s nookFEST. The event took place Sept. 9 on Woodmount Avenue and in the laneway behind The Nooks’ design store.

According to owner Colleen Imrie, The Nooks is a set of business accelerators that focuses on creative entrepreneurs. Their stores provide artisans with a retail space for their products, as well as business development opportunities such as workshops and events to sell and advertise their products at.

The various locations range from a design store that carries handmade goods to a general store that sells locally produced food and drinks.

Bringing people together

It’s also a way for small businesses to network with and support each other.

“Entrepreneurs don’t have a ton of time to hang out, so it’s challenging to have an ongoing channel of communication,” Imrie said. “Something like (this event) The Nooks is hosting can bring everyone out…it brings action, which helps everyone.”

And there was a lot to do at the festival.

On top of the vendors, the event featured live music all day, a comedy group, craft beer and food and demonstrations by local youth.

Jessica Beaver, creative operations director for the event and local to the area, was excited to be a part of something that promoted the culture in her neighbourhood.

“All the cool things happen in the west end, so we wanted to do cool things in the east end and also help the artists out,” she said. “It means a lot. It feels really good.”

Beaver added that the event was planned with the help of non-profit The Laneway Project, which aims to bring more awareness and involvement into communities via laneway-hosted events.

Kung said he’d only previously been to markets and similar events in the west end. East York’s nookFEST was the biggest event he’s attended so far.

He talked about how difficult it can be to run a small business. He himself handles marketing, product and business development, design, sales, retail “and all that stuff you have to learn on the fly,” he said.

“It’s a lot of no’s for a few yes’s and you have to push forward and just believe in your craft.”