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All-Female Craft and Food Market Pulling into Gowanus This Fall

GOWANUS — They're looking for a few good women.

Two women who run an all-girls summer camp and after-school program are starting a new lady-centric venture this fall with Gowanus Girls, an all-female food and craft market.

The pop-up market will take place over two Saturdays in October at Gowanus Grove, an outdoor space on the banks of the Gowanus Canal at Carroll and Bond streets that's also the setting for a weekly daytime dance party.

The market is being organized by Samantha Razook Murphy, the founder of Curious Jane — which runs summer camps, after-school programs and field trips for an all-girl clientele in six cities nationwide — and Melisa Coburn, Curious Jane's marketing coordinator.

Curious Jane's programs are focused on design and creativity and teach girls skills such as toy design and do-it-yourself fashion projects. Girls who participate gain a sense of self confidence while also exploring their creative side, Coburn said.

Razook Murphy and Coburn, who are both moms, were looking to extend their gender-affirming brand and hit upon the idea of the market as a way to promote female designers and chefs and showcase the creative energy bubbling up around their Gowanus office.

Long a home for artists who use the neighborhood's large industrial spaces for creative pursuits, Gowanus has been injected with a new "sense of possibility," after a spate of new businesses opened recently, Coburn said. She counts pie shop Four & Twenty Blackbirds, Lucey's Lounge, Lowlands, Crop to Cup coffee, clam shack Littleneck and new bar Lavender Lake on that list.

"There's so much fabulousness and creativity happening in Brooklyn right now," Coburn said. "To focus on all-female designers and food, it's something that makes sense for Curious Jane families and for our audience, but it's also something that will draw people to the neighborhood and allow them to see the creative energy that's here right now."

Coburn and Razook Murphy were inspired in part by Brooklyn Flea, which runs outdoor markets in Fort Greene, Williamsburg and at the East River Waterfront. But unlike Brooklyn Flea, which stocks plenty of vintage merchandise, Gowanus Girls will sell only all-new products, including textiles, handbags, stationery and other creations by independent designers.

The 14,500 square-foot Gowanus Grove can hold between 40 and 50 vendors who will sell their wares at a mix of 10-foot by 10-foot tents and six-foot tables. Coburn says the "special setting" — which includes picnic tables, a bar stocked with sangria, beer and wine, and a dance floor and stage — will make for a unique shopping experience.

Gowanus Girls will be held on two Saturdays, Oct. 13 and 27, from noon to sunset. The dates coincide with Gowanus Open Studios, when the neighborhood will be full of visitors on foot looking for things to do, Coburn noted.

Gowanus Girls may have a musician or two to play music, and will likely have free craft activities to keep kids busy while parents shop. The free market will also have a fundraising element, with some proceeds donated to a local community-based nonprofit that hasn't been selected yet, Coburn said.

She and Razook Murphy say they'll carefully screen vendors who apply to sell at Gowanus Girls.

"We want to carefully curate the mix and think about balance so it's not all food or all jewelry or all handbags," Coburn said. "We want the focus to be on high-quality, exceptional goods that are displayed in a visually-appealing way." She added, "I want it to be you're walking down the aisle and you don't know where to look."

The deadline for vendors to apply for a spot at the market is Sept. 15. Find out more at the Gowanus Girls website.