Creating a space for women, people of color and LGBT-business owners made the Monarch Art and Wellness Fair a success

Hyde Park resident, Bianca Marie of Still + Flow, explaining to customers how she creates her handmade journals and sketchbooks at the Monarch Art and Wellness Fair.

Staff writer

After weeks of unforgiving cold and rainy weather, Hyde Parkers and Chicagoans celebrated the return of hot summer weather by attended the first Monarch Art and Wellness Fair over the weekend of June 22.

On Saturday morning, attendees strolled through the Hyde Park Art Center, 5025 S. Cornell Ave., to see what 30 vendors had to offer. The fair featured women, people of color and LGBTQ-owned businesses that offered a range of homemade crafts, artwork, and information on wellness services. By featuring artists that created their own crafts and were wellness professionals, visitors were able to see how art and wellness work together to create a holistic approach to self-care.

For many vendors at the fair, this show was different from other fairs that they have attended. Rachel Sloan of Nature’s Trace Co., who creates handmade soap from ingredients in her garden in Irving Park, talked to attendees about a variety of topics throughout the weekend — from how she creates her soap to her ancestry.

“I love the energy here. The farmer’s market that I do by my house has a very familiar feel, just because I know everybody there. The vibe and the energy here is just very loving, warm and supportive,” said Sloan.

Sloan found out about the fair through Instagram and decided to apply to be a vendor because she believed in Monarch’s mission to highlight marginalized vendors who are often ignored.

Rachel Sloan of Nature’s Trace, a handmade soap line featuring ingredients from her garden in Irving Park, talking to a customer at the Monarch Art and Wellness Fair over the weekend at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5025 S. Cornell Ave.

“I just had a really good feeling about it since day one and it is promoting all of these amazing things that need to be supported. The whole wellness and natural thing fits me, that fits my soap, that fits what I do and so for that reason, it was like a match made in Heaven,” Sloan said.

For Hyde Parker Bianca Marie of Still + Flow, who handmake journals and sketchbooks, mentioned how intentional the event was planned to create a welcoming atmosphere.

“[The Fair] feels intentional. The folks that put it together wanted to bring together folks who are passionate about their work, who are excited to share their process and excited to connect with folks who are interested in their work. I think they did a good job of picking a great location and partnering with awesome organizations that are intentional about the work that they do. I think it just provides a space for folks to feel good and empowered to create and connect with artists.”

For co-founders and best-friends, Noëlle Pouzar and Madison Smith, they wanted to create a fair that was completely different from other events in Chicago. While creating monarch, they surveyed friends to see what was missing from fairs and festivals throughout the city and was intentional about who could participate in the fair.

For Smith, their labor for the past year paid off, “For our first year, the fair truly exceeded our expectations. We saw vendors dancing together, trading work and seeing each other’s art making and wellness practices in a new light. Noëlle and I are so fortunate to know such an incredible group of makers in this city. We are certainly excited for future opportunities.”