(Custom made wooden signs featuring the Tourism Windsor Essex and Pelee Island WE Made It YQG, and Barrels, Bottles, and Brews campaigns were unveiled in Windsor, Ontario’s Ford City on the outdoor wall of Michael Difazio Reclaim Artistry on Wednesday, September 12, 2018. From left to right Gordon Orr (CEO of TWEPI). Tom Bain (Essex County Warden), Michael Difazio (furniture maker and artist), Drew Dilkens (Mayor City of Windsor), and Lynnette Bain (TWEPI Vice President). Photo above by Eric Bonnici / Eyes On Windsor.)
W.E. Made It YQG, a fantastic program featuring an online guide to handcrafted products and food items by local artisans and makers, was launched by Tourism Windsor Essex and Pelee Island (TWEPI) along with the unveiling of custom made wooden billboards created by Michael Difazio Reclaim Artistry. The official program reveal took place in Windsor’s Ford City on Wednesday, September 12, 2018.
WE Made It encourages visitors and residents alike to explore Windsor Essex County’s talented local artisans, makers, retail shops, and foodie stops. “This program is designed to discover the hidden gems in our community,” says Lynnette Bain, TWEPI Vice President. “WE Made It helps visitors and residents to explore the back roads, the side streets, and the neighbourhoods in each community, it’s about celebrating what makes our communities and the people that make up our communities unique. If you believe in YQG, then shop local and buy YQG made.”
Lynette explained the three main categories of WE Made It. “We have the Artisanal Makers Functional and Decorative Items, such as Gallop Leather, Swinging Soap Company, and Wreaths and Florals by Janice. Retail category, stores that focus on locally produced items and act as incubators for small artisan retailers, such as, The Urban Art Market, Lee and Maria’s, and Pelee Artworks. (The Food and Drink Category) Some great bites and drinks to bring home and get a taste of Windsor Essex, like Robbie’s Gourmet Sausage, Walker’s Candies, and Red Lantern Coffee Company.”
The artisanal products highlighted by WE Made It range from being consumable (like homemade sausage or cold brew coffee), to functional (like clothing or furniture), to decorative (like jewellery or sculptures) and sold commercially at retail or at a market.
TWEPI kicked off the Barrels, Bottles and Brews program in 2016 to showcase the products, services, and experiences offered by local wineries, breweries, and distilleries. TWEPI CEO, Gordon Orr, explained that Barrels, Bottles, and Brews “has sort of progressed to this (W.E. Made It), a showcase of products made right here in our own backyard, including unique gifts that people can take home with them.” Gordon pointed out some of the local artisans and crafters in attendance including 30ml Coffee Co., Rare Apparel, Parkhouse Museum, Michael Difazio, and The Grand Cantina.
City of Windsor Mayor, Drew Dilkens, a member of the TWEPI Board, told the crowd that he is thankful for the WE Made It program because it captures the unique things that make up Windsor Essex. “When we go out shopping together we are always looking for something unique,” says Dilkens referring to his wife, “that’s why this program is so perfect. WE Made It is a great campaign, small businesses are very meaningful in our community to showcase.” Dilkens also said, in partnership with the WE Made It program booths will be available for artisans to showcase and sell their products during the 2018 edition of Bright Lights Windsor later this year.
Essex County Warden, Tom Bain, also a TWEPI Board member, talked about Windsor Essex being ranked in the top 7 Intelligent Communities worldwide. The Intelligent Community Forum made recommendations for improvement. “We heard over and over again, you’re a hidden jewel,” says Bain. “But you don’t get the word out enough. So I want to thank TWEPI and everyone for coming together because this (WE Made It) puts that word out there.”
TWEPI has partnered with the Windsor Essex Small Business Centre on the WE Made It program. “We have been working with entrepreneurs and small businesses owners for over 25 years,” says Shannon Dyck, Windsor Essex Small Business Centre Manager. “The message we find is always the same, how do we get the word out that we exist, how do we market ourselves better?” WE Made It will help get that word out.
The Small Business Centre will be hosting the WE Shop Local Show at the Fogolar Furlan Club on October 25, 2018. The event will feature over 50 local vendors and is being held in partnership with the WE Made It YQG program.
TWEPI also unveiled a W.E. Made It billboard situated in Ford City that will highlight the program for the duration of the year, and leave a lasting legacy for display in either Tourism Information Centres or at future trade shows. The billboard was handcrafted by local artisan Michael Difazio Reclaim Artistry.
“WE Made It is giving people like me the opportunity to be put in the spotlight,” says Michael Difazio, owner of Michael Difazio Reclaim Artistry. “Rather than being some crazy artists in the corner, we put a lot of passion, heart, and love into our work. It’s giving artists like me the opportunity to promote our small businesses.”
“This program really highlights districts and areas that may not be top of mind for visitors – and shows the magnitude of how entrepreneurs are the backbone to our growing communities.”
For more information, to discover local artisans and crafters, or to apply to be listed in the WE Made It YQG program (a free service) please visit http://yqgmade.ca