Lexie Bianco, 28, views an arts festival as an opportunity to build her budding business.
Bianco, a Catonsville native, will be one of 156 vendors at the 41st annual Catonsville Arts and Crafts Festival where she will sell hand-painted glassware, part of her business called The Glass Goddess.
The week before the event is crunch time for Bianco, who can be found painting wine glasses, pint glasses and jars with different designs and patterns then baking the glassware.
Sunday's event, which originated in 1969, is organized by the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Frederick Road between Bloomsbury Avenue and Melvin Avenue.
It is expected to attract between 20,000 and 25,000 people this year, said Teal Cary, executive director of the chamber of commerce, though the Ravens' afternoon home game against the Cincinnati Bengals could diminish the size of the crowd.
"The goal of the event is to highlight Catonsville — to draw people here. It's held to introduce Catonsville to those outside of the community," Cary said.
Vendors from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, as well as the Baltimore metro area, participate, she said.
Many retailers, restaurants and civic groups are also part of the festival.
Bianco said craft festivals are the perfect place to sell her hand-made items. She also participates in the annual Arbutus Arts and Crafts Festival in May held on East Drive.
Bianco, currently in school for a master's degree in art at Towson University, said she has always enjoyed being creative.
Her business is not just a way to make money — it's fun too.
"It's a good way to unwind and I like that it makes people happy," Bianco said. "They tell me how much they like them and how they're going to put them on display, so it's a good feeling."
The idea for her business developed when she painted a set of Baltimore-themed wine glasses for friends as a wedding gift.
"They loved it. Their reception of the gift and how happy they were and how fun it was for me to see them, started the idea that I could actually make a business out of this," said the Howard County public school art teacher.
She began developing an inventory at home and first sold the hand-painted glassware at the Arbutus Arts and Crafts Festival in May 2013. The most popular designs are those with a Maryland or Baltimore theme such those with an Old Bay or Maryland blue crab design.
In the final week of August, she was busy painting wine glasses with blue crabs, which she expects will sell quickly.
She sells the glassware from her Oella home and will even deliver to those who live in the Catonsville area.
Wine glasses are $15 individually, $14 each when sold in a set of four. Pint glasses are $13, $12 each when sold in a set of four.
Bianco said participating in events such as the annual festival on Catonsville's main street gives her the opportunity to introduce her product to new customers.
She has also found Facebook to be a useful marketing tool to grow her business and stay connected with customers. So far, her business strategy is working — she has 259 likes on Facebook.
Her booth at the arts and crafts festival can be found across the street in front of the Catonsville Gourmet, which is where she was last year.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun