CLINTON, N.Y.-- A group of local women artists and business owners eschew the notion that competition is essential for success.
"People have emailed me, asking me what vendors I use for certain items," Rachel Bartunek, owner of local paper goods company Handmade Darling, said. "I'm more than happy to share with that."
Since moving to Clinton from New York City two years ago, Bartunek has actively sought out collaborations with other local artists. She is now the leader of Utica's chapter of the Rising Tides Society, which promotes collaborative business practices between community artists.
"We meet together to go over creative entrepreneurship," Bartunek said. "We believe in community over competition."
Bartunek's Handmade Darling is a side business. When she's not working full-time as a graphic designer, she creates custom paper goods for special events. Through the local wedding and event planning industry, she's met others who run creative businesses in their spare time.
"She contacted me to buy a print for her house and I was like 'oh my God, she likes my artwork, this is awesome,'" Hannah Frederick, a local photographer said.
"Rachel and I met through social media," Kelly McClain, owner of Bella Box Gifts, said. "It's really neat to be able to meet other creatives in other areas in central New York."
All three women regularly participate in Rising Tides events, and claim the organization's formula of collaboration helps them forge new contacts and makes the greater Utica region a more art-friendly atmosphere.
"They just bring you back up, just are so encouraging and so supportive," McClain said. "If someone's coming into town, we want to make them feel welcome, we want them to know what's happening in this area and why they should also love this area."
"They want that local vibe and they're not going to get it somewhere else," Frederick said.
"One friendship led to another and that really brought us together as a collaborative team," Bartunek said.