Small businesses committed to tradition and artisanal craft gathered together in South Salt Lake for the first-ever Mosaic Bazaar in March.
Mosaic Bakery, an online delivery Lebanese and Armenian bakery, organized the event. Owners of the bakery hoped the market would highlight the artistic craft and dedication of Middle Eastern tradition.
Each business registered to sell at the bazaar fit the theme of “Commitment to Tradition,” selling their handmade goods to the public.
Mosaic Bakery owners Tereza Bagdasarova and Rodeina Soweidan started their bakery from their homes at the end of 2019. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit and saw small businesses that had been a staple in their community go out of business, they were not sure if they would make it.
With a pivot in their business plan, Bagdasarova and Soweidan decided to become an online bakery rather than continue to look for a location to rent. They now fulfill orders for their traditional Lebanese and Armenian pastries through their Instagram account @mosaicbakery.
Bagdasarova is Armenian and Soweidan is Lebanese, and they wanted to bring to life a market similar to what they experience in their home cultures — something similar to indoor bazaars or culinary markets that are common in the Middle East.
“Here there isn’t always an opportunity for businesses to come together indoors and have something that’s a unique way for people to come together. We wanted to give it a try, see what would stick and hopefully turn it into something that’s not only ongoing but more community driven,” Bagdasarova said.
Bagdasarova and Soweidan hoped the bazaar would give vendors who may not always frequent the typical farmers market an opportunity to showcase their work.
“We really wanted to envision a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean feel to it and get vendors who match that feel,” Soweidan said.
Hanifa Javadi is from Afghanistan and came to the U.S. as a refugee. Javadi works with other refugee women from Afghanistan in Utah to create jewelry, bags and other handmade goods.
Javadi said it is important for her to introduce her culture to people in Utah and show what they have in Afghanistan. Her business, Free Women, currently employs 26 women who help Javadi create the work she sells.
“I love to create, and most of the women from my country know how to sew. All of them have a machine at home,” Javadi said.
Javadi knows how difficult it is to transition to a new culture and language and offers these artistic opportunities as a way to earn an income for the women involved in Free Women.
“The women don’t know how to speak English and don’t know how to drive. That’s why I create this business to work together,” Javadi said.
Javadi sells her products online, at markets and will also fulfill specialized orders.
“I’ve made 100 silver keychains for BYU and 10,000 bags for Young Living. I worked with 26 women to create this,” Javadi said.
Most vendors that sold at the Mosaic Bazaar intertwine pieces of their heritage and culture into their art.
Tala Shibab, a Lebanese American, sells a variety of handmade items from painted canvas pouches, crocheted bags and hand-crafted earrings.
Some of Shibab’s earrings contain an evil eye, a symbol found in Latin American, Asian and Middle Eastern cultures that is said to ward off evil. Although Shibab herself does not believe it holds any power for her, she loves its cultural significance.
“A lot of cultures in the Mediterranean like Greece or Iran have it. It’s all over which I love, because it brings in different cultures together,” Shibab said.
Audrey Maynard felt grateful to be able to showcase her handmade candles at the bazaar.
Maynard’s business, That Retro Glow, sells hand-poured beeswax and coconut oil candles that she pours into thrifted and repurposed vessels.
“Every candle is just a little bit different. I let the personality of each vessel speak to me and say ‘I want to smell like this or that,'” Maynard said.
Maynard, who worked in higher education fundraising for about 20 years, decided she wanted to be home more with her family. She started That Retro Glow last year.
“My goal this year is to see if I can get into some local shops and make connections with other local business owners and entrepreneurs to see what I can do to complement their business,” Maynard said.
“I was so honored that the Mosaic Bazaar included me because I just stumbled upon this. I wondered if they would accept me, and the Mosaic Bazaar said, ‘If you do things the slow way and it’s a true handcrafted product, then please join us,'” Maynard said.