“This is our fourth event with rosé,” Ashley Custer Heckler, the owner of NYC’s Uprooted Flower Truck, says as she deftly constructs two identical flower crowns. One will go to the woman standing next to me, the other is for her dog.
Custom flower crowns and boutonnieres were an attraction at the March 20, 2019 Manhattan launch party for Fleurs de Prairie’s 2018 rosé, a Côtes de Provence wine that retails for $22. The event also featured a “GIF booth” with a custom background from Alli K Design and, of course, plenty of rosé.
It was also a very smart, modern reinterpretation of the paint-and-sip concept. Popularized by chains like Pinot’s Palette and Painting With a Twist, paint and sips are guided art classes that serve beer and wine. “The trend has been growing for nearly a decade, as more and more people seek diversions in experiences rather than in buying things,” Ann Carrns wrote in a 2017 New York Times story, “A Paintbrush in One Hand, and a Drink in Another.”
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Admittedly, paint and sips have a somewhat dowdy reputation among certain people, and the scene at Fleurs de Prairie’s party was devastatingly chic. But both embody the DIY spirit of contemporary maker culture.
Collective desires to unplug from high-tech lifestyles, increased climate consciousness, and seemingly endless uses for Mason jars are bringing crafting out of Etsy-fueled subcultures and into the mainstream. Young crafters now incorporate needlework into Netflix nights, Instagram succulent gardens, and, yes, eagerly create flower crowns at a rosé party.
To speak to this growing market, paint-and-sip specialist PaintNite recently rebranded as YayMaker and introduced activities like candle making. The Daisy Club, a boutique operation in Sonoma County, hosts craft and sip nights where groups make succulent wall hangings and macramé hoops at local wineries and tasting rooms. In Portland, Ore., DIY Bar has daily sessions where guests make string art or decorate flasks over beer, wine, and cider.
Like homesteading and #vanlife, crafting speaks to a desire for lo-fi control in the face of a careening digital landscape. Data breaches and systemic upheaval make headlines, but you can stay in and make art!
There are, of course, those who deride activities like paint and sips, or rosé parties where you can craft accessories for your dog. Such pursuits are silly or frivolous, these buzzkills say.
Such negging is both pointless — let people have a good time! — and certainly gendered. After all, the only objective difference between making a flower crown while drinking rosé, or shooting pool with a beer in your hand, is that the former results in a tangible product.
“We want to support artists and creators of beauty,” Ann Altman, Brand Manager, Fine Wines, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, says. As part of Fleurs de Prairie’s rosé launch campaign, the company will award three $2,500 seed grants to applicants “striving to turn their passion and side hustle into a reality,” according to the website.
Hobbies and side hustles can be viable sources of income for the reported 60 million Americans currently obtaining revenue through freelance work. Gender divides exist there as well. “Among independently employed creative entrepreneurs, women earn 32% less than men,” Jared Lindzon wrote in Fast Company in May 2018.
Fleurs de Prairie’s seed grants aren’t “a ton of money, but, if you’re a small business, or want to be, maybe that lets you sit with a lawyer, or hire marketing,” Altman says.
Whether modern crafters are aspiring entrepreneurs or simply cultivating a hobby is absolutely their business. Either way, today’s economic and sociopolitical climate is tough for a lot of people. Why shouldn’t they blow off steam beautifully?