The Broome County Regional Farmers Market, a cherished hallmark of Binghamton, NY, hosted its Autumn Artisan Market on Sunday, Oct. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. An assortment of local farmers, artists and craftspeople displayed their handmade or self-grown products, illustrating the sense of community that Binghamton has.

Although COVID-19 is no longer the front page of our everyday lives, many of these vendors evolved amid the solitude and vacancy of quarantine. Erin Savage, the founder of Horti Cultured Home, a plant and macrame business, discussed how COVID-19 was the catalyst for her vocation.

“I work a full-time job that’s completely irrelevant to my hobbies, but it was because of COVID-19, when I had a lot of downtimes, that I taught myself how to macrame,” Savage said. “My aunt used to do it and we would go to my grandma’s where we found a whole bunch of old macrame stuff from the 70s, so I ended up taking that and venturing out from there.”

Savage is among many who found gates of opportunity during trying times to convert a hobby into a business. Laura Zibbon, founder of the polymer clay jewelry line “Love Laura Nicole” and a junior at Binghamton University majoring in business administration, gave a rundown on her hobby-turned-business and explained what exactly her jewelry entails.

“Polymer clay is a different type of clay,” Zibbon said. “It doesn’t break and it has to be baked in order to dry, compared to if you bought the Crayola air dry clay. So it’s more of a professional-based clay.”

Zibbon expanded on the drive and effort she dedicates toward her polymer clay jewelry.

“I’d say it takes 15 minutes to mold all the clay and cut them out, baking it is like half an hour, and then I have to sand it which takes about five to 10 minutes to do,” Zibbon said. “And then I have to glue them on with gorilla glue and wait for them to dry, so I usually let it sit for a day.”’

Zibbon’s booth displayed an abundance of polymer clay jewelry — a testament to the time and commitment that this young artist devotes to her business.

Just one 360-degree turn around the market and it’s clear that the consumer demographic captures a range of ages and interests. When asked about the type of customers Horti Cultured Home attracts, Savage explained how she appeals to a diverse clientele.

“You know it’s funny because I get a lot of students and younger people who love plants, macrame and sun catchers,” Savage said. “But then I also hear a lot of the older women who were alive in the 70s who did macrame back in the day, so they love seeing it again.”

The Artisan Market is an essential event in maintaining and promoting community throughout Binghamton. Approaching her second year selling at the market, Savage touched on her experiences with the others involved.

“It’s nice to meet people,” Savage said. “I love doing it here. The girl that runs it is so nice, it’s very well-organized, and has really good foot traffic. I just love it because everyone is so helpful and everyone wants to see everyone succeed.”