Spotlight on ONEAL: Sara Cowan, Co-Founder/Director of Oklahoma City Deluxe Indie Craft Bazaar

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May 1, 2012 by molliveroneal

Portrait of Sara Cowan by Sam Echols

An interview by Molly O’Connor

In 2008, three young women began sketching out plans for the very first Oklahoma City Deluxe Indie Craft Bazaar.  Influenced by both the Rock n’ Roll Garage Sale and the Girlie Show, the founders planned and designed Deluxe to be a festive and family-friendly community arts happening.  This free event offers locales the opportunity to purchase unique handmade work by local artists during the holiday shopping season.  Taking place every December, Deluxe features up to 90 artist booths, performances by local musicians, creative activities for kids and partnerships with area social service and cause-driven organizations.

I recently interviewed emerging arts leader and Deluxe Co-founder Sara Cowan to learn more about how and why Deluxe began.

Who was instrumental in beginning steps of creating and launching Deluxe?

Sara: JD McCoy, Stephanie Evans and myself.  Stephanie had lots of experience running events and creative businesses.  Now she owns Dig It, a boutique in the Plaza District.  JD and I are now the two Deluxe directors.  JD was an art teacher and has quite a knack for logistics and planning.  I have a journalism/PR background, so I take care of most of the marketing aspects of the show.

After the first show, we built a relationship with Erin Cooper of Cooperhouse, our talented web designer, and David Woods of Group of One, our graphic designer who has been designing our posters and t-shirts.  They both have made a huge difference in the way we have been able to present ourselves to the world.

We also connected with Midtown Rotary, who have committed to being our volunteer base for our show every year.  These people are all very generous and supportive.

Deluxe provides Oklahoma artists with a unique opportunity to sell their work in an upbeat venue. Pictured above is event organizer and artist, Stephanie Evans.

How does Deluxe empower local artists and offer them opportunities to develop their art business?

Sara: We are committed to keeping the booth fees affordable for artists.  We know how it feels to be at an event, holding your breath and hoping to break even.  We try to feature artists on our blog and in our gift guides , and we pass along their names for media interviews and other promotional opportunities.  Sometimes we are able to do some matchmaking with local businesses that are looking for a certain kind of product.  It’s awesome to be able to make those connections so that money can stay in Oklahoma instead of buyers looking for factory-made products and imports.

More than just another arts event: Deluxe partners with area community organizations to build awareness about social service providers.

What does Deluxe offer the community?

Sara: It is a family-friendly event with a youthful atmosphere and free admission.  We think it’s a place where people can do all of their holiday shopping.  Great care is taken to ensure we have products at Deluxe for everyone on your gift list.

What advice would you give to other emerging arts leaders in Oklahoma who want to start something new?

Sara: Oklahoma is a great place to be for creative types.  Your work is needed and there is room for you to start something!  Because of the friendly, supportive nature of Oklahomans, it may be surprisingly easy for you to find support, advice and an enthusiastic audience.

A fun event for kids of all ages: the Sugar Free Allstars entertain the next generation of rock stars.

How does Deluxe impact the local economy?

Sara: Our shoppers spend thousands of dollars each year, which puts money in the pockets of our artists and also contributes to the city and state via sales tax.  Shopping at Deluxe is definitely a way to support local small business owners.  Most of our artists operate one-person ventures, whether they are moms staying up late at the sewing machine or art students operating on a tiny budget.

Why did you choose to pursue your endeavors here in Oklahoma?

Sara: JD and I have strong roots here with family and friends, and it’s a great place to be right now!  So much growth and excitement is happening, specifically in Oklahoma City.  Our economy is resilient and our citizens are enthusiastic about supporting all things local.

Plans for the 2012 Deluxe Indie Craft Bazaar are already underway.  Sponsors, volunteers and exhibiting artists are are needed to make the event a success…more information is available at 

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