Indie Craft Experience at the Georgia Freight Depot in fall of 2022. Photograph by Isadora Pennington.

Eighteen years ago, the idea of an independent craft market first entered the minds of local creatives Shannon Mulkey and Christy Petterson as they shared a meal and drinks at Elmyr in Little Five Points. 

Though their first event was intended simply to be a one-off, they were shocked when it drew more than 800 shoppers. Riding on their early success, Mulkey and Petterson built the Indie Craft Experience (or ICE) into one of Atlanta’s largest and most beloved annual craft markets.

Christy Petterson and Shannon Mulkey at the Yaraab Temple. Photograph by Isadora Pennington.

“We started Indie Craft Experience in 2005 because there was not an event that focused on the indie craft movement at that time in Atlanta,” said Mulkey. “Christy and I were both makers and had visited and or participated in events in other cities. We wanted to create that in our city. We didn’t plan on starting a business but here we are 18 years later. We just kept going.”

Over the years, thousands of shoppers have found incredible one-of-a-kind items and art that they have gifted to loved ones and some of which might even be sitting on your shelf right now. Indie Craft Experience has supported many local artists by providing an opportunity to connect directly with their clients at thoughtfully curated markets. 

“I have learned so much throughout the years,” continued Mulkey. “My favorite part of our business are the makers. We have worked with so many incredible people over the years. It has been an honor to provide a platform for creatives and watch their businesses grow.”

Mulkey and Petterson have hosted Indie Craft Experience markets at Eyedrum, the Defoors Center, the B Complex, Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia World Congress Center, the Georgia Freight Depot, Yaraab Temple, Uptown Atlanta, The Works, Sweet Auburn Curb Market, The Hudgens Center, Ambient Plus, Young Blood Gallery, the High Museum, Colony Square, and the Home Depot Backyard, among others. 

Earlier this year, Mulkey and Petterson were discussing the future of Indie Craft Experience and they decided that it was time for a massive change. Running the markets takes a lot of effort and time that they now wanted to devote to other endeavors, so they opted to shutter the market.

Longtime supporters of the Indie Craft Experience mourned the news while behind the scenes a bit of magic was happening. Soon it was announced that instead of closing down the Indie Craft Experience would go on to live again, much like the phoenix rises from the ashes, under the leadership of new owner Liz Roberts. 

L-R, Shannon Mulkey, Liz Roberts, and Christy Petterson at Elmyr. Provided.

“I left the restaurant industry in 2022, and I found what I missed most was the sense of community throughout the industry,” said Roberts. “When I saw Indie Craft for sale, I knew I had found my new community! It’s so inspirational seeing what the incredibly talented makers in our city do, and I’m so excited to be a part of continuing the 18 year legacy of Indie Craft!” 

An avid crafter and upcycler, Roberts has long been a fan of the Indie Craft Experience. Recently, Roberts met with Mulkey and Petterson at Elmyr in Little Five Points to sign the transfer of ownership paperwork in a nod to the birthplace of the craft market. 

“Liz is passionate about makers, vintage and all things DIY,” said Mulkey. “She came to us with a clear vision for the future of Indie Craft Experience. She has innovative ideas with the skills and drive to make it happen. I can’t wait to support her on September 17th!”

These days, Roberts is hard at work preparing for her first market event. The Indie Craft Experience will return to Yaraab Temple on Ponce de Leon Avenue on Sun., Sept. 17, 2023. Follow along with the Indie Craft Experience on their website where you can learn more as well as get information on becoming a vendor in upcoming markets. 

Isadora Pennington is a freelance writer and photographer based in Atlanta. She is the editor of Sketchbook by Rough Draft, a weekly Arts newsletter.