Online artists market LocalGood is a labor of love for Desiree Vuocolo of Baywood Avenue. Vuocolo recently launched LocalGood as an avenue for local artists to sell their work in a collective space. Artists donate a portion of all of the sales to local charities and then LocalGood matches that figure dollar-for-dollar. And, each item is specially crafted by artists across the U.S., including some items made in Mt. Lebanon.
“When you’re buying from these artists, you’re going to hear their stories, you’re going to hear their experiences, and you’re going to have a one-of-a-kind piece that your family and friends will cherish,” Vuocolo said.
LocalGood brings together artists creating a wide array of media, from ceramics pieces to jewelry, paintings and photography. Karen Krieger, Holly Lane, who has spent the last 30 years as a full-time artist, sells everything from hand-crafted ornaments to uniquely designed accent mirrors through LocalGood.
“It’s an easy way for you to give back. You get something for it, but you also have given something away,” she said.
How it all started
Vuocolo, who admittedly is not an artist herself but loves going to art shows, has dreamed of creating a site like LocalGood for nearly eight years. For her, there’s something special about buying a hand-made, one-of-a-kind piece that has a story behind it.
“I think that we’re really hungry for human connection in normal times, let alone during a pandemic when we really are longing for it,” she said. “I get chills just thinking about it, because that human element and connection makes that piece special and it’s not just a commodity. It suddenly becomes something that somebody’s love was poured into.”
Knowing that many artists struggle to create their art while also marketing and selling their products, Vuocolo, who has a background in operations, knew she could help. “I thought, what better way than to be able to take my skills and give it to a community that I love and then also starting to celebrate all of the fantastic work that they do in the community,” she said.
After moving to Mt. Lebanon three years ago, Vuocolo, a single mom who already had a lot on her plate, made new connections and—with lots of help from people near and far, including Chris Jezowicz of Not a Robot agency—she was able to get the site off the ground. With the pandemic causing art show cancellations, she found an even greater need for the site. For her, this was a passion project.
“This has been my love letter to the community,” she said. “The mission has always been about making sure that we can help artists be self-sustaining.”
For Vuocolo, Mt. Lebanon turned out to be the perfect place to start her passion project.
“What I’ve experienced in Mt. Lebanon, I’ve never experienced anything like it. This community, the outpouring of support for charitable and local places has been amazing,” she said. “People are super thoughtful and kind and they care about where their money goes and they care about supporting local.”
Artist helping others
The three goals of LocalGood are:
- Helping artists to sell their work and be self-sustaining. That means meeting them where they are, even teaching them to take photos of their work or how to upload their designs to the Internet.
- Creating a community among the artists so they can work together and also provide a human connection for their buyers—each artist on the site shares their own story.
- Partnering with different charities, including the Foster Love Project in Dormont and the Western Pennsylvania/West Virginia Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.
“Charities have been absolutely thrilled,” Vuocolo said, noting that during the pandemic organizations are struggling to bring in money with fundraisers canceled. Artists have been just as grateful for the opportunity.
Krieger, who once worked as a metalsmith and now focuses on paper related pieces, said Vuocolo’s drive and passion made her want to be a part of the site. Seeing that the site partnered with The Foster Love Project personally resonated with Kreiger, who has an adopted daughter.
“I want to support that in any way that I can,” she said.