Since 2008, Hot Pop shop has been providing the Milwaukee area with a unique selection of goods as well as featuring regional and national artists in their gallery space. One year ago the store moved to a larger downtown space on busy Water Street. Maker Market sat down with Brandy Boyd, curator and general manager of Hot Pop to get a closer look at the store, her ideas on the local maker scene and how the store has changed over time.
Maker Market- Could you give a brief history of Hot Pop?
Brandy Boyd- Hot Pop opened about 6 years ago. We just moved to this new location in October of last year. We started out as a high end urban clothing, shoes, gallery and designer toy store. Now we are more housewares and art based. We have a huge local section now. Which is our number one seller.
MM- What is your position at Hot Pop?
BB- I am the general manager and I also do the buying and the graphic design… and everything!
MM- What is the general mission and aesthetic of the store?
BB- It is an art and design boutique and gallery with an emphasis in housewares and strong local influence
MM- You do all of the buying. Do you also do the majority of the curating?
BB- Now I am. Along with Margaret (the owner) we choose the artists. We started doing group shows and I curate all of the group shows.
MM- Since the store changed locations it seems that there is more of a focus on local artists and makers. Is that an accurate observation?
BB- Yeah. That was really important to me. When we first started, at the old store, we had these ideas of what we wanted it to be but none of us had any idea how to run a store like that yet. So when we moved here it was the perfect opportunity to make local artists a huge focus. Which is why we have an entire section now. Its a little less than half of the store and is almost a part of the gallery. We really try to push our local stuff. We do so well with it we can barely keep anything in stock!
MM- What is your process for finding artists and makers.
BB- We have cards that we have made for interested artists that have all of the info. Then when they send an email we all talk it over and decide if it’s the right fit. We are also very heavy into social media and there are times when we see something online and seek it out.
MM- With your local section are the products consignment or wholesale?
BB- It is both consignment and wholesale.
MM- How do you think selling wholesale is beneficial to the artist and how it is beneficial to the store?
BB- I think selling wholesale is better for the maker because they can make a set price and determine what they need to get out of it and then they are done. With consignment they are waiting around to see if it sells. For us (Hot Pop) when we buy everything outright, they give us a set price per item and then a suggested price and then we do whatever works best for the store. It gives us a little more wiggle room because we own it!
Brandy Boyd, along with Brian Holoubek, will be speaking at the Maker Session on Monday November 10th.