by Kirby Lindsay Laney, posted 17 November 2015
On Sunday, November 22nd, the Fremont Sunday Market invites our community to join in celebration of their 25 years. The Market began in 1990 with an innovative idea of encouraging entrepreneurship among artists, crafts persons, and start-ups. It had never been tried before in a Seattle neighborhood. Today the idea, the Market, and even some of the businesses begun there, continue to thrive.
Celebrate the Market on Sunday, by bringing a can of food for Northwest Harvest, and by exploring the great collection of vendors that make Fremont their home each week – and provide us with a wide selection of creative and collectible items to shop. The Market vendors range from those selling only once in a while, to established businesses liquidating, but its greatest success has been a supportive, fertile incubator for retail and restaurant businesses.
Kaleidoscope Candles, A Fremont Business
One of the greatest of the Sunday Market many success stories is Jim Higgins, and Kaleidoscope Candles. Higgins began at the Market more than 18 years ago. When he and his wife married, “we decided that if we were going to have kids, we wanted to have one stay-at-home parent.” His wife needed a classroom, and offices to work, while Higgins found it easier to give up his culinary dreams and fall back on his art while raising their two boys.
“I’m an artist,” Higgins recently explained, and Kaleidoscope Candles, “fell into my lap.” During the week, while caring for his boys and even, for a few years, home schooling them, he made candles he sold at craft fairs and the Sunday Market on weekends, when his wife could spend time with the boys.
The craft fairs gave Higgins customers and exposure, but the Market also gave him a community. Higgins considers some of the vendors, like a custom furniture maker who had a booth next door for 14 years, to be family. These relationships have come in handy, like on the Sunday sixteen years ago when Higgins suddenly had to pack up and go when he got word that his wife had gone into labor with their first-born.
Still, his business grew because, “it’s not just about candles,” Higgins explained. “I’m talking to customers, doing marketing, etc.,” and he’s built up the brand, and the product made by hand.
‘Opened Up Any Possibility’
“I love Fremont,” Higgins said about our community, “I love everything about it. I describe it as Noah’s Ark. We have two of everything!” Higgins feels like a part of our community here, and Kaleidoscope has certainly become a part of our business district, even though it’s only here one day a week – for 18 years, longer than some of the brick-and-mortar stores.
“The Fremont Sunday Market is probably the Disneyland of markets. Anyone can have a dream and see it realized at the Fremont Sunday Market,” Higgins observed. He has been able to begin and grow his own business within this entrepreneurial nest. “I’m super grateful,” he said about the opportunity, “It really has opened up any possibility.”
In the two decades Higgins has been there, “I don’t know that the soul of the Market has changed,” he said. He did acknowledge that the Market has been a bit gypsy during his time there – he started with them on the parking lot where PCC Natural Market now stands, then moved with them to under the Burke Building, on to the parking lot on North Northlake, and finally finding the permanent home of N 34th St.
Higgins has seen the population at the Market evolve, from the customers to the staff. He watched Ryan Reiter-Hegeman, whose parents Jon Hegeman and Candace Reiter founded the Market, grow from a little boy to a man. Reiter-Hegeman now helps operate the Market and, according to Higgins, “he’s kind of modernized it a bit,” using social media and other technology. “It’s been comforting to know it wasn’t going to fade,” he said.
Elixir Fixer, A Big Vision
Higgins is excited to celebrate 25 years of the Fremont Sunday Market, and to look to its future, but he admitted that he might not be part of it for long. “I’m having a very big internal struggle with letting go,” he recently admitted, “but my vision is a big one.”
This fall, Higgins has begun launching what he calls his “fantasy business,” using his training as a chef, and returning to the food industry, to create ‘Elixir Fixer.’ Rather than the Market, Higgins plans to build this new, full-time business through direct sales, bridal shows, and party planning marketing, like Avon or Tupperware.
Elixir Fixer are a line of D.I.Y. cocktail and culinary syrups ideal for party hosts and brides looking to create beverages for large groups for a lower price point. Similar to a margarita mix or simple syrup, Elixir Fixer can be added to alcohol, soda water or sparkling water, and ice to create a punch or drinks or flavored sodas.
“I’ve taken the hard part out of mixing drinks,” Higgins explained, for those wanting to create super easy home-brew cola or root beer, or flavored vodka. In time, he plans to expand Elixir Fixer uses for food recipes.
The inspiration for Elixir Fixer came from years of attending an annual gathering of close friends at Christmas. “I would always make a special cocktail,” Higgins explained, and over the years he gathered lots of ideas about what people liked best. This year he decided to create a product that would make it easy for any host, with minimal preparation and a few obtainable items, to make delicious cocktails for their guests. Higgins likes that Elixir Fixer “came out of my love of friends, family and Christmas!”
A ‘Street Of Dreams’
The Fremont Sunday Market is like a “street of dreams,” Higgins observed, where people can come and find the item they’ve always dreamed of finding…or where crafts people can bring their products and launch their dream business.
For 25 years, the Fremont Sunday Market has given a home to entrepreneurs like Higgins, to sell their crafts, art, antiques, collectibles, food dishes, flowers, and new product ideas. As Higgins explained, the Market has given him time and support, “to start a brand new venture. And that’s pretty wonderful!”
Come celebrate with Market staff, and the vendors that have made Fremont a fantasy land of shopping and exploring thanks to people like Higgins. Make sure you visit Kaleidoscope Candles, and ask about Elixir Fixer, as we all celebrate this ‘Disneyland’ of Markets!
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©2015 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.