Jessie Phillips used to sell produce. Rachel Macintyre used to work for Apple. Now, they’re the proprietors of a Reno business that’s gearing up to offer full-service marketing for artists.
Jessie and Rachel are the brains behind the pop-up market series Wandering Wyld and The Virgil, the event venue/co-working space in a former church near Wells Avenue. Their next venture, Wyld Market, is slated to open in 2022 at Reno Public Market.
Their story is one of a business partnership made in heaven.
Jessie, who grew up in Southern California, started out working at farmers markets in Santa Cruz more than a decade ago. She admired the DIY ethic she saw in farmers and small producers. And the idea of “knowing the person that makes your goods” stuck with her as she built a career in digital marketing for the food and beverage industry.
Along the way, she developed a lot of patience for complex logistics. If there were a Girl Scout badge for “Vendor Management,” she’d probably be wearing it. “When you have 60 local, small business owners—or people who don’t even consider themselves to be small business owners—it’s a lot of wrangling and a lot of organization,” Jessie said.
Meanwhile, Rachel had spent 15 years working in the tech industry—though she sounds more like a people person than that might suggest.
“I really pride myself in building relationships,” she said. “That’s my jam. Connecting people is the thing that I’m most passionate about.”
A few years ago, she moved to Reno from Portland, where she’d been inspired by the Portland Saturday Market, a longstanding, weekly arts and crafts market with an eager following. “There was this permanent venue where creatives can come and share their craft with the community,” Rachel said. In 2018, she started Wandering Wyld, which holds temporary art markets at places like The Eddy and The Village at Rancharrah. The markets gained momentum, but she knew something was missing from her long-term plan.
“Really quickly, after our first season, I learned that I was lacking in skill sets that would make it more successful for the makers—and that was primarily marketing,” Rachel said. “I met Jesse when I was looking for someone to help us with social media.” The two hit it off from the get-go.
“Jesse gave me a lot of really critical feedback that made me feel like I wanted to go out and do better,” Rachel said. One day, not long into their acquaintanceship, she asked Jessie, “Are you interested in trying something new?”
“I had this vision that we would be able to offer truly end-to-end business services for our creatives,” Rachel explained. “So we don’t just provide them with a platform to share their craft, but we can truly help them develop a business as well.” Rachel had no salary to offer. Jessie signed on anyway.
The partners soon found that their personalities are as complementary as their skill sets. “We push each other in different ways,” Jessie said. “We push each other to be better. We’re both down to take risks, even though I’m a really cautious person … Rachel gives me the courage to take a leap. So I think we’ve done some really experimental, kind of ballsy things that have panned out because we’re both really hard working.”
“We both feel super lucky to have the balance in the business partnership,” Rachel said. “We deal with a lot of small business owners who are craving a partner. They want that help, but they don’t know where to find someone, or they’ve had a failed partnership.”
“Something that we’re both committed to is being present with our community,” Rachel said. “And so it was attending every Truckee Thursday, and literally meeting every single vendor over and over again to build rapport. … So that when we say, ‘Hey, we want to do this crazy thing and open a pop-up collective for six days; give us all your inventory and we promise you we’ll sell that,’ they trust us.”
In July, three years into their partnership, Jessie and Rachel signed a letter of intent with Foothill Partners, the California development company behind two new retail facilities that will also house art spaces—the partially open Reno Public Market (formerly Shoppers Square) in Reno and the soon-to-open Oddie District in Sparks.
“This wall is going to be glass,” Rachel said, barely audible over the clamor of building machines. She gestured toward a cavernous, half-built interior of exposed metal beams and roughed up cement floors. Eventually, the space will be one of Reno Public Market’s shiny new retail units. “And in here is a fine arts gallery,” she said. That gallery will belong to neighboring future tenant Makers Paradise, a branch of the Berkeley-based makerspace. “The whole storefront is going to be open with rolling gates,” Rachel added.
Once it’s open, Wyld Market will offer a menu of art sales and marketing services that’s so far unprecedented in Reno. (But Options include consignment arrangements, under which the shop will conduct the transactions and take care of the marketing, or lease agreements for artists’ stalls. “You own them—you operate them within our space,” Rachel explained. Stalls will be available for long-term leases, or just for a week or a month. And, for artists who want an even lower-commitment plan, there will be day table rentals. This is good news for, say, artists who don’t have time to mount a year-round marketing campaign, but who know they’ll sell well the week before Mother’s Day, for example.
Artists will be able to book any of these arrangements online through an easy-to-use portal. “The idea is that it’s a very plug-and-play, user-friendly experience,” Jessie said.
Wyld Market’s target opening date is in spring 2022. Meanwhile, the proprietors plan to keep a high profile for the artists they work with. The pop-up markets have expanded into South Lake Tahoe, and Jessie and Rachel are planning several events, among them a Wells Avenue block party in the fall and a holiday pop-up sale at a not-yet-confirmed location.
Cover photo + illustration: Kris Vagner