Christina Upchurch embeds pressed flowers and paper butterflies into her pieces, which include earrings. Photo courtesy of Christina Upchurch.

Pop-Up Shopping

Markets at 11 offers artisan crafts, unique finds

By Nan Bauroth

When Krystie Schlicker began crocheting at the age of 8, she had no idea her obsession with yarn would become a thriving business. Nor would she have dreamed her hobby would lead her to found Starving Artist Market, a regional network that now has 2,000 vendors like her who sell their wares mainly via pop-up events like Markets at 11 in Ballantyne’s Backyard.

Markets at 11 is an open-air Saturday market. The spring season is coming up on April 8 and May 13, featuring shopping tents, live music, outdoor yoga, picnicking, brews, wine and food trucks. The market has become a big draw for Charlotteans who enjoy the vibrant community scene.

“We have space for up to 90 tents,” Schlicker says, explaining that she selects Starving Artist Market vendors whose products she knows will appeal to local shoppers.

The six vendors included in this feature are all women — a deliberate selection to celebrate International Women’s Day, March 8, which coincides with Ballantyne Magazine’s spring issue launch. Interestingly, most of the entrepreneurs began their businesses during the pandemic. All have appeared at Markets at 11 and are excited to return this year to sell to customers who appreciate their one-of-a-kind goods.

Krystie Schlicker's crochet line includes scarves, hats, home décor and even mini Amigurumi, the Japanese term for small, crocheted items like fruit. Photo courtesy of Krystie Schlicker.

Before COVID-19, Christina Upchurch was busy caring for three children and managing restaurants, but the pandemic gave her time to pause and reset. “I had a chance to find my joy,” she says. After seeing a resin paint palette online and creating one for fun, she made a bunch to sell. “Suddenly, I was down the rabbit hole into the world of resin art,” she says, noting that resin is eco-friendly and so durable she can encapsulate items in it forever.

Upchurch’s signature touch is embedding pressed flowers and paper butterflies into her pieces, which include earrings, bookmarks, cheeseboards and suncatchers. She also preserves bridal bouquets. Another top seller is custom chess sets inlaid with flowers or other materials. “I never envisioned my business taking off like this,” she says. “For me, the pandemic was the biggest blessing ever.”