By Alyssa Weston
Mission Night Market’s 2018 inaugural season aims to bring the Youngstown community together to benefit the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley.
On Friday Sept. 14, Mission Night Market held their fourth night market, and the final night market of the season will be on Oct. 12 at the Huntington Woods Plaza in Boardman, Ohio.
Xiao Lin, Mission Night Market coordinator, said the market aims to bring diverse people together under the night sky in a celebration of culture, community and connection.
Lin said it’s an opportunity for local producers, new businesses and musicians to share their craft and for the community to join together for a memorable and meaningful evening.
“We do have a core group of vendors and we are continually looking for unique vendors to add to the mix,” she said. “We received so many applications, we have more than doubled in size in just our first two markets.”
Kasey Hood, a junior dental hygiene major at Youngstown State University, visited the market for the third time on Sept. 14.
“I think the reason I keep coming back is to support the vendors and also try out some of the free samples and enjoy a nice night out. It gives people around here something to do,” she said.
Manda Bees Headbands was Hood’s favorite vendor, along with the different soap stands.
“I like seeing what all of the vendors have to offer, and I like walking around and enjoying the free samples. It’s neat to try new things and to also find things there that you really like,” Hood said.
Caitlin Hogarth, owner of The Prickly B-tch, was a vendor at the Sept. 14 market along with her friend Shannon, owner of Crescent Rose Craft. The two run Sheba Flora, an umbrella term for each of their craft businesses.
The Prickly B-tch currently sells vintage teacups repurposed into cacti planters and herb-infused soy candles, as well as other cactus-themed items such as pins, patches and T-shirts.
“The Prickly B-tch represents all women and all things aesthetically pleasing. My lovely partner at Crescent Rose Craft also shares a love for nature and she creates nature inspired jewelry,” Hogarth said.
Hogarth said the most challenging part of running a small business is realizing the balance.
“Setting aside enough time in your life to work on something you are truly passionate about becomes difficult in this day and age. Between work and lifestyle — you really have to prioritize what really matters,” she said.
But to Hogarth, in the end it is worth it.
“I love the act of creating, and markets like Mission Night Market give us that platform to share our creativity and love for what we do.”
Aubrey Gustovich, owner of Whipped By Aubrey, has a full-time job selling homemade baked goods at local markets and bakeries.
Whipped by Aubrey started nearly three years ago when Gustovich moved back to the Valley from being a pastry chef at a restaurant in downtown Pittsburgh.
Gustovich said her most popular item is the French macarons but she also make cakes, cookie sandwiches, decorated cookies, breakfast pastries and custom treats of all kinds.
“My target customers are really anyone who has a sweet tooth,” she said. “My customers range from one to 90 years old and I always try to have something for everyone even if you’re gluten-free or vegan.”
To Gustovich, the best thing about running a small business is that no matter what, at the end of the day, the community will still show up and support.
“It still blows my mind every single day that there are customers who come to every single market. It makes all the sleepless nights worth it when you hear someone say, ‘I came here just for you’ or ‘this is the best macaron I have ever had,’” she said.
Gustovich said her customers have no idea how much their kind words mean to her.
“I know it sounds cliche, but it really does take a village. I have been given so many amazing opportunities just by coming to markets and I will always be so grateful for every single one of them,” she said.
Lin said Mission Night Market is the only event of its type in the Mahoning Valley.
“Come out and enjoy a night of great music, unique shopping, delicious food and fun for the whole family all while supporting a great cause,” she said.
(Photos by Rachel Gobep/The Jambar)