A perfect plan for creative spirit Carey Allan
Photos by Steve Smith, VisionFire Studios
Carey Allan has always lived her life in an environmentally conscious way. Whether at home or through her artistic endeavours, Allan makes every effort to reuse or recycle items, intent not to create waste.
“As a family, we have always been very environmentally conscious. It’s so important,” she says. “It’s something so small that you can do in your own home that can make such a huge impact.”
Allan does everything she can to avoid throwing things out, so she is always coming up with ideas to repurpose or upcycle items she no longer has a use for in her home.
It’s a philosophy that is also critical to her business plan.
Allan owns and operates Groovy Market Goods in New Glasgow, a retail store that sells a variety of upcycled items from various vendors far and wide.
Groovy Market Goods opened in October 2019 and has been an outlet for Allan’s repurposed creativity.
“It was mostly my own crafts in the beginning, but it has grown and is more like a Farmer’s Market where I sell items for vendors on consignment,” Allan explains.
The items range from clothing made from repurposed sari silks in India, pottery with driftwood, hula hoops decorated with scrap material, journals made from recycled paper, t-shirts made with homemade stencils, and vintage hoodies repurposed with scrap materials.
The list of items gets larger around the holidays when more vendors bring their items into the store.
“It’s really amazing to see what people can do,” says Allan.
Allan used to live and work in India, so she has contacts there that she purchases the silk sari items from. She says saris are typically five metres in length but through wear and tear they will get holes or rips in them, so her friend will use two or more complimenting saris to create skirts, dresses, and even pants.
And Allan herself uses her pottery skills combined with repurposed driftwood for selves or hanging pieces.
“This time of year, I like to use items I’ve found on the beach and combine the shells and glass with the driftwood.”
One of Allan’s vendors will bring items in that he has found while cleaning the local beaches for her to use.
“He also takes the rope that he finds on the beaches and cleans it to make dog leashes and toys.”
But the items Allan repurposes aren’t strictly ornamental; in fact, some of them can even be used as a means of physical activity.
“I make a weighted hula hoop that I decorate by wrapping scrap pieces of old clothing or sheets to make different coloured bands.”
Upcycling has become a bit of a theme for Groovy Market Goods.
“It feels good knowing you can reuse and save these items from going to the landfill.”
Groovy Market Goods is Allan’s second business on Provost Street in New Glasgow. A few years ago she operated Perfect Diversity, a clay café where customers could paint the pottery objects she had created.
And while Perfect Diversity is no longer an operating business, its essence and sense of community have taken on a new form in Allan’s Groovy Market.
When the busy downtown street went quiet during the height of the pandemic, Allan turned to her passion for pottery, filling her time making cups, each one a unique design and pattern.
The practice was more than just a way for Allan to keep busy and use her talents; it was a means of getting something back that she had lost over time.
“When Perfect Diversity was open, I had this friend that would come in every day and paint. He was going through some struggles in his life, and he would come in to paint. It helped him work through what he was dealing with in his personal life, and for that moment in time, he was happy,” explained Allan.
“I’d watch him paint and see the calm and happiness come over him and it made me feel like I was missing that in life.”
That was Allan’s inspiration for Cups for Community.
Allan set out to make 365 unique cups, one each day for an entire year. Some of them are made with interesting, repurposed objects or decorated using items she would find around her home, making sure to keep them all a different theme or pattern.
Once each cup was finished, Allan would write a page in her journal about that piece and her feelings and emotions while working on the cup.
However, like most of us, life can often get in the way and we lose sight of the track we started on, so to prevent herself from straying from her path, Allan created Cups for Community.
Now that each cup has been made, Allan is posting a photo of one cup per day, for 365 days on her business Facebook page, Groovy Market Goods. The photo is accompanied by the journal entry for that cup, and it is then auctioned off to raise funds for local non-profit organizations.
“I wanted to make sure that I would stick to it, so I thought if I was raising money for a cause that I care deeply about, and getting the community involved, I would have to follow through.”
The project will be complete at the end of December with hopes that $10,000 can be raised to be divvied up between Viola’s Place, Tearmann Society, and Roots for Youth.
“I’ve already been able to raise $8,000 so I am hoping that I can reach that $10,000 goal,” she says. “And if there’s any left-over, I would like to donate some to the Community Garden in New Glasgow.”
Allan says that not only did the process of making the cups allow her to experience that happiness and sense of purpose but being able to bring the community together while also helping organizations that are dear to her felt amazing.
By the end of December 2021, this project will have encompassed three
years of Allan’s life from start to finish.
“My family has been so patient with me, allowing me to spend my time on the mugs and dealing with mugs all over the house,” she laughs.
You can follow along with Cups for Community or bid on a cup on Allan’s business Facebook page, Groovy Market Goods.