A new monthly market and cookout will launch in Astoria next month, a project that all started with a T-shirt company run by two local residents.
After peddling printed tanks and tees in Ridgewood and "random places here and there," Astoria residents Robert Duffy and his wife Kiesha Jenkins-Duffy decided it was time to start a borough-based event of their own where small vendors like themselves could get together.
"At the end of the day, there's not a huge community yet of Queens makers putting things together in Queens," while there are a variety of large markets in Brooklyn, said Duffy, who owns the T-shirt company Unified Queens with his wife.
So Duffy organized to open Queens Craft Brigade, a monthly art market featuring 15 local vendors, slated to launch for the first time at VFW Hall in Astoria on Sunday, July 9.
Never heard of the VFW Hall? You're not alone, Duffy said. The new manager at the Veterans of Foreign Wars has been looking to connect the space with more of the community, Duffy added.
"I think it's a great space that not a lot of people in Astoria know about," he said.
Over the course of the year, Duffy, who works for the Guggenheim Museum as a senior manager of interactives, began reaching out to Queens artists and crafts people like himself to see if they'd join the market, he said.
Hot sauce purveyor Hellgate Farm, button and printmaker GRL Supply and South American apparel brand SUDA -- one of Duffy's local favorites -- have all agreed to be vendors at the Queens Craft Brigade next month. SUDA is slated to debut its summer line at the market.
While Duffy has committed to running the market at the VFW Hall from July to December, excluding August, he plans to eventually take it to different parts of the borough, possibly running multiple markets in a single day if he's able to connect with more local artists, he said.
"My hope would be to dispatch a group of vendors here and there around the neighborhood, and build that growing network," Duffy said. "We're always looking to learn about more people so we can grow and be able to organize -- it's been great to have all of the vendors come together and work on this."
The VFW Hall is located at 31-35 41st St. in Astoria. Queens Craft Brigade will run from noon to 5 p.m. on July 9. For more information, visit queenscraftbrigade.com