Through the annual sale, students learn how to run a business and build relationships with their peers and clientele
Beautifully handcrafted candles, organic makeup and intricate jewelry are just a few items you can find at the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) Visual Arts Conservatory’s Winter Market, but having the opportunity to sell unique merchandise is only a small piece of what makes the market so special for the students who participate.
This annual two-day event transforms the courtyard and a few classrooms of the Dance, Music, and Science (DMS) Centers into a veritable bazaar of goods, crafts and artwork, all of which is created, produced, and sold by student vendors. Not only do the students learn how to earn a profit, they also gain invaluable knowledge and experience that can help lay a path for their future.
“Winter Market provides students with an opportunity to engage in a commercial aspect of art-making that they otherwise would not engage in during their time at OCSA,” said Caroline Fleet, an instructor in the Visual Arts Conservatory and a lead coordinator for the Winter Market. “Budgeting for and ordering supplies, calculating profit margins, customer relations and marketing are just some of the topics covered with participants in the weeks leading up to the event.”
Alisha Lin, a junior and one of the student vendors in the Winter Market, has a strong passion for her work and said the sale has benefited her in a few ways. Because of the community-driven nature of the event, she said the Winter Market has allowed her to improve her communication skills and willingness to meet new people.
“Winter Market is a transformative experience. I went from being the most timid seventh grader to one of the most experienced vendors at the market,” Lin said.
Beyond gaining indispensable life skills, the Winter Market is a great way for students to give back to their conservatory and the causes that are important to them. Lin said one of her biggest inspirations is being able to support a cause that is close to her heart, and strives to make a difference with her work.
“As a cancer survivor, I am passionate about donating to foundations like Ronald McDonald House of Orange County (RMHOC) that support cancer patients and their families,” said Lin.
Winter Market vendor and OCSA junior Darlene Chen shares Lin’s passion for philanthropy and has already started donating to charities.
“This program has taught me that money can be a channel to serve those in need,” said Chen. “Besides donating 20 percent of the proceeds to OCSA, I am privileged to partner with Christian Missionary Fellowship International by sponsoring at risk kids through an additional 15 percent of the proceeds.”
Ultimately, students can choose to participate in the Winter Market for a variety of reasons, but regardless of what those reasons are, many come away from the experience with a sense of accomplishment and recognition.
“In addition to teaching valuable skills, the sale provides validation for many of the students involved,” said Fleet. “Many have never received monetary compensation for their artwork before, and the Winter Market is the first time many students begin to understand that, yes, art can be a viable career option.”
OCSA Public Relations & Communications Intern