By Yadira Betances
---- — LAWRENCE — Today and tomorrow El Taller will be converted into a holiday pop-up shop featuring handcrafted candles, jewelry, paintings, blown glass, photography and historical books about the city.
Jennifer Hilton came up with the idea for the extravaganza during the holiday, when throngs of people go to the stores looking for bargains.
The event begins tonight. Artisans include Kate Delaney of Lawrence, a freelance designer who makes notebooks and ornaments; Anna Elza, a student at Merrimack College who crafts bracelets and watchbands from colored pencils; Elissa Salas, the winner of a Gold Key and Silver Medal at the 90th annual National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and Marlene Marmolejos of Lawrence, a mixed media and graphic artist designer now studying at Emmanuel College.
Hilton came up with the idea three weeks ago as a way to build relationships with national brands, which will help her launch “american made magazine” in the spring of 2014.
“All of this collaboration speaks directly to the primary philosophy of ‘american made magazine’ that we are re-imaging America together,” she said. “The idea resonated with a lot of people who understand that America is made up of a diverse immigrant groups who own businesses, and Lawrence is in the hub of all of that.”
A native of Danvers, Hilton lived in Brooklyn, N.Y. for more than 20 years. She returned to Lawrence to work as financial network and marketing manager at Lawrence CommunityWorks. She is now a substitute teacher in the Lawrence Public Schools and a hostess at Cafe Azteca.
When she started doing research for her magazine, Hilton visited Haverhill and Lowell, and in the end opted for Lawrence.
“When I came here, I saw the magic. The city is full of history, has wonderful spaces, a commitment from its immigrants, the flavor of different cultures,” she said. “Cities like Lawrence need to show the rest of Massachusetts that they will be taking control of their own future because there is so much that people don’t know about.”
She said that is evident in the caliber of artisans, business people and community leaders participating in the holiday shop pop-up.
Hilton said she can identify with the resilience of Lawrence residents. She battled cancer while raising her daughter, Emilia Martinez. She returned to school and graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary communications from Empire State College of the State University of New York. Her daughter graduated the same year with a degree in art history and European studies from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
“The city and I have a lot in common. Like Lawrence, I refuse to give up; I won’t go down without a fight,” Hilton said.
If you go: What: Holiday pop-up shop Where: El Taller, 275 Essex St., Lawrence When: Today, 6 to 9 p.m., tomorrow 10 a.m. to midnight. After party Saturday from 7 p.m. to midnight.