By Sylvia Shipman, Assistant Features Editor — The Chattanooga River Market is a weekly market designed to promote local small business owners and is only a walk from campus.
The Chattanooga River Market provides a platform for locals to sell their goods and services. Without the market, many of its vendors would have no outlet for doing so.
One of the newcomers to the market is Summer Kelly, a hair stylist from Pleasure Island, North Carolina. However, she doesn’t style hair in the traditional sense; she specializes in hair wraps, dreads and braiding.
“I do [hair] wraps because it’s a fun and different way to express yourself,” Kelly said. “You can personalize them so that no other person will ever have exactly the same wrap as you.”
Kelly started putting wraps in her hair in high school, and she has been making her own form of hair wraps for about three years now.
“[My hair wraps] have totally changed and evolved to become what they are now,” Kelly said. “It’s been a cool journey, for sure.”
Kelly enjoys hair wraps as opposed to dreads because it’s a much less permanent, more versatile way to wear her hair.
“With hair wraps, you don’t have to commit to a permanent change like dreads or dying it,” Kelly said.
While she prefers hair wraps, she admires the beauty of those who are brave enough to take the step to get locks.
“Dreads are permanent. You have to lock or mat the hair to keep it in the desired lock and there’s no turning back,” Kelly added. “Hair wraps are just wrapped around your regular hair.”
Kelly was delighted when she found out she would be able to have her own stall at the Chattanooga River Market and feels very fortunate.
“Man, there’s such an incredible community within the market,” Kelly said. “Everyone’s always ready to help each other out.”
Other vendors that she knows at the market are the two men who run Nomadic Treasures, a clothing brand that makes lots of mystical festival attire.
“All their pieces are cool, affordable and unique,” Kelly said. “They also make jewelry.”
While the two vendors mentioned above sell items with a gypsy vibe, the market also features fresh produce and artisan foods in addition to crafts.
The Chattanooga River Market is put on by Public Markets, Inc. and is classified as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit. As Public Markets, Inc. states on its website, “through our weekly public markets, we encourage commerce, entertainment and trade in downtown Chattanooga and the surrounding region.”
Kelly describes the overall vibe of the market to be that of an “easy breezy Saturday” filled with music, laughter and smiling faces. Anyone who makes the trip to the market will be met with a variety of sounds, sights and smells in this summer experience. It even offers a yoga class at 10 a.m. sharp, and customers must bring their own mat.
The Chattanooga River Market takes place at 1 Broad St. downtown, right next to the Chattanooga Aquarium. The Chattanooga River Market opened this month and runs until October on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.