The Endless Summer Craft Fair at the Outlets at Lake Elsinore attracted more than 50 vendors and hundreds of visitors during the five-hour event Aug. 7. The day of fun was organized to promote the grand opening of CREATE. Studios as well as the shopping center and Simply Made Local.
Nicole Dailey and Meagan Fosdick are co-founders of CREATE. Studios. They met more than three years ago and discovered they shared a vision of helping and giving to others while promoting their hometown of Lake Elsinore.
“Meagan and I are amazing partners; we have a passion for empowering others like us to succeed,” Dailey said. “Together, we have envisioned something that we believe will be timeless and relevant in the long term.”
As Deputy City Manager, Dailey was contacted by the Outlets in February seeking ideas to bring more life to the center, particularly following the negative impacts COVID-19 had on the retail venue. She and a handful of other women were inspired to make a difference and give back to their hometown.
“We all decided it was time to try to do something to help our growing city get closer to what we know it can and will be,” she said. Dailey has lived in the city since she was 7. One of her first jobs was working at Dairy Queen at the Outlets in the late 1990s.
“In those days there would be lines wrapping around the buildings and no empty parking spots,” Dailey recalled. “Those were great memories for me. The Outlets were a destination for my friends and I and most of us worked there.”
When Dailey began thinking about the future of retail, post-COVID, and what would draw people to the Outlets, she decided it would be experience-based retail and events. Now she just needed to figure out what type of experiences would attract customers.
“Amid COVID, many of my friends turned to crafting as a way to keep them busy and create additional money for their families. It was clear this was a popular pastime among my age group (30s) and Lake Elsinore’s median age is 30. My sister-in-law Meagan is creative. She quit her traditional job two years ago and started her Dreamland Kreations ceramics business and she made it; she made more staying home with her son doing something she loved. We knew this was a growing part of our economy.”
Dailey’s research located many sources projecting a surge in the handicrafts industry, and she believes they are entering the market at the perfect time.
She said that post-COVID, many have forgotten what they did with their time and are looking for new ways to get out of the house and enjoy time with loved ones and friends.
“This is particularly true in Lake Elsinore,” Dailey said. “For far too long our community has craved a place to go, especially for our stay-at-home parents looking for something to do locally while kids are at school. Now, they have a place to come relax, unwind, and do something for themselves or others. We believe we have created a destination for everyone.”
Plans are to start in Lake Elsinore and expand across Southern California and eventually the entire nation.
“This is step one of many more,” Dailey said. “We aim to create destinations to support local handicrafters and build a shared community crafting experience across the nation. Our slogan is ‘a shared community crafting experience that inspires creators to CREATE.’”
Joining forces with three others, Dailey and Fosdick were able to see the studio become a reality in less than three months.
“We are homegrown and investing our time and money to save the Outlets,” Dailey said. “Five homegrown women and moms teamed up to invest in their hometown and save the Outlets at Lake Elsinore amid fallout of COVID-19.”
Fosdick, who was born and raised in Lake Elsinore, said, “I think real change can start with one idea and hopefully this idea can help multiple people, families and businesses in our community.”
Christine Frantz, marketing manager at Outlets, also was born and raised in the city and said the property has been a huge asset to the Lake Elsinore community for three decades and “home” to more than 100 retailers throughout that time.
“Although the Outlet world has changed over the past 10 years with so many brands closing nationally, some filing bankruptcy, or this specific location just not having the foot traffic needed to survive, there’s still so much potential here,” Frantz said, adding that the location continues to attract new retailers and services and find new uses. “We’re ready to change as the world changes and hope to become the new go-to for this community. Change is in the air.”
Simply Made Local is an online marketplace for handicrafters and partnered with CREATE. Studios for the grand opening craft fair. Starting Sept. 5, a “Handmade & Homegrown Farmers Market and Craft Fair” will be held at the Outlets the first and third Sunday of each month.
Abby Jacobs is the CEO of Simply Made Local and co-founder with Taylor Bedetti. She has been a resident of Lake Elsinore for the past 27 years and had her first job at Old Navy at the Outlets when she was 16.
“Simply Made Local is working to bring the handmade industry back to its roots by connecting real people with quality goods,” Jacobs said.
Future plans are for CREATE. Studios to offer workshops, private parties, open studio use, shopping options, special events and more while always seeking to be on top of the latest trends and offer whatever people are creating at the time. They found ways to maximize the space, create value for customers and identify potential revenue opportunities. Dailey said they also repurposed as much as they could to reduce their capital investment and keep the costs of opening minimal overall.
“We really urge our community to check us out and participate to support our local handicrafters and bring much needed traffic to encourage new retailers and restaurants to come to the Outlets at Lake Elsinore,” Dailey said.
The Outlets’ first phase opened in 1991 and currently has more than 20 retailers. While a few retailers have closed, several new tenants have recently moved in.
“I just want to say on behalf of Meagan and I that we are so thankful to our families, extremely supportive partners and our patient children for allowing us to quickly create and fulfill this new dream and adventure for us,” Dailey said. “We are beyond excited to have this opportunity and so optimistic for the years ahead.”
She is also thankful for the endless hours Fosdick spent getting the space ready. Dailey said it has been her late night and weekend job, while working at her full-time day job at the city. She is looking forward to seeing what their team can accomplish.
“I am so grateful to give back to my hometown each and every day and to have the opportunity to actually try to make a change and impact my community,” Dailey said. “This is the place I choose to call home and the place I am raising my children. This is our home and we can all be more successful coming together and lifting each other up, supporting and serving our community. Together we are much stronger and more successful. I hope we inspire many others to do the same.”
Without the support, encouragement, and investment from Simply Made Local and Outlets at Lake Elsinore, Dailey said she and Fosdick would not have been able to accomplish what they did in such a short time. And the successful grand opening craft fair was encouraging for their vision.
“We truly believe this was all meant to be. We were meant to come together at this time in our lives to make a difference in our community,” she said.
CREATE. Studios is 3,500 square feet and although it is laid out as one big rectangle, it offers different dedicated areas in the space. There is a boutique area for local crafters to sell their handiworks, a tool wall, equipment table, supplies, ceramics/bisque station, coffee and snack bar area, ribbon wall, “junk” box with miscellaneous crafting items, a pickup and drop off area and a calendar wall listing all activities for the month.
“To stay true to our mission to empower and inspire small business crafters we tried to partner with small businesswomen who create craft supplies,” Dailey said. “And we really want our local crafters who are our members to host workshops to help them make money. They come up with the activity, the cost and the supplies. We post on our website for reservations and assist with promoting and receive a portion of the profits.”
CREATE. Studios, 17600 Collier Avenue Suite D135, is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. The studio is closed Mondays and Tuesdays for private studio time. On the weekends, Friday through Sunday, it may be closed for private workshops or parties in the future based on the use of the space.
“Right now, we are open,” Dailey said. “We urge everyone to sign up on our website. There is a popup when you go to the site. Any possible changes will be shared with those interested.”
For more information, www.creatediystudios.com, (951) 457-4053, firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook and Instagram.