Story & photos by Isadora Pennington

Kim & Kristen Bell of Treehouse Kid & Craft
Kim & Kristen Bell of Treehouse Kid & Craft

Even before Thanksgiving I was thinking about buying gifts for my family and friends. I learned the hard way that waiting too long to shop for the people in my life usually results in poorly thought out, last-minute presents like gift cards and stuff I grabbed on a hurried run to Target.

Lucky for us Intowners, there are plenty of alternative spots to pick up unique gifts made by local artisans. Whether you’re looking for gifts for kids, for your partner, for a friend, or for yourself, these shops have plenty of cool offerings to choose from.

Buying locally made items from independent shops does a lot to further the economy by funding the continued work of the artist behind the product. Over time, I’ve become familiar with quite a few local artisans whose work is on display and for sale in some of my regular haunts.

Mariana Davis of The Beehive

Behind the scenes at many of the hippest shops here Intown are some truly inspirational and passionate people. I recently met with some of these local business owners who shared their thoughts on indie gifts from the other side of the counter.

“Smaller shops are more familiar with their customers, what their customer likes,” said Kristen Bell of Treehouse Kid & Craft in Decatur. “We can offer more services like free wrapping and good customer service that can impact shoppers in a big way.”

Lynne Tanzer of Hodgepodge Coffee House

Treehouse, located on DeKalb Avenue near Thinking Man’s Tavern, is a sensory overload, with cute and non-commercialized gifts for all the kids (and kids at heart) in your life. They also have an event space in the back that they rent out for birthdays and the like. The company began in Athens where the main shop is still in operation, and Kristen’s sister Kim recently opened this branch in Atlanta.

Malene Davis of the Beehive, one of the oldest collectives in the city, said shopping locally helps sustain communities. “When a dollar is spent at the Beehive on a local product, that dollar is then paid out to the designer for sales; thereafter, that same dollar goes forward to sustain the community where that designer and her/his family lives,” explained Davis.

Sara Lamond of Fig & Flower

Beehive, located in the Edgewood Retail District, offers jewelry, clothing, gifts and much more. With informational cards on many of the displays, customers can better understand who and where the products came from.

“Local businesses are so, so important,” said Lynne Tanzer of Hodgepodge Coffee House. “They employ local people, support and sponsor local events and charities, allowing community to thrive. We are more invested in our customers and go the extra mile to make you happy because we know you personally — you are our kids’ teachers, our dentist, and our neighbors.”

Joseph Strong, Florence Wetterwald and Susan Pritchett of Blabla Kids

Beyond the inherent value in helping a local artist to make money from their work, Lynne appreciates the ability to feel like she’s making a difference in the artists’ lives.  “I can’t explain the joy that comes with writing a commission check and knowing that it’s going to our neighbor to buy their kid new boots for school or toward their grad school tuition fund. It’s magic!”

Hodgepodge has a strong artist customer base, and the shop has regular art shows. Shelves and walls near the counter display a wide array of small-scale, locally produced gifts and artwork.

Margeau Bull of MadeAgain

Rebecca Hannah of Young Blood Boutique in Poncey-Highland also spoke of the benefit to supporting local shops and artisans beyond the inherent boost to the community. “Local businesses are the flavor of a city,” she said. “We’re lucky to have so many amazing, locally owned shops and restaurants in Atlanta, and for us, these places contribute immensely to a richer life experience.”

Stop by this shop for great jewelry, a wide selection of funky greeting cards, hangable art and plenty of cool gifts, sure to please even the most difficult person on your gift list. As of Dec. 1, the shop will now be opening for extended hours starting at 10 a.m. for all your shopping needs.

AC Smallwood of Byrd’s Box

Different stores vary in their approaches to the management of their stock. For example, Made Again features artist exhibitions at the shop. “Made Again is not only a multidiscipline art gallery from local artisans, but it is a resource hub for artists wanting to excel their companies,” said owner Margeau Bull.

Bull said the photography, design and marketing assistance that the company offers to participating artists is another way that her small business is able to give back to the community it serves. Made Again features art, furniture, jewelry, bath products and more at Inman Quarter in Inman Park.

Jessie White and Rebecca Hannah of Young Blood Boutique

“We work hard to support the artists and makers in our community by being accessible and giving 60 to 70 percent of profits back to the artists,” said AC Smallwood of Byrd’s Box, a shop that began as a pop-up and has become a permanent fixture on Auburn Avenue. “We partner with local charities and organizations to make sure that our impact to the community is as positive as possible.” The shop sells clothing, art prints, zines, gifts like candles and jewelry produced by local makers.

Sara Lamond of Fig & Flower Natural Beauty on North Highland Avenue said the real value of shopping local is the old adage of “putting community back in our communities.” The shop sells carefully curated bath and body items that use only the safest, purest and most sustainable ingredients. “I’ve met so many of my neighbors through the store, many of whom I now consider my friends. When you shop local, you’re supporting a neighbor, a neighborhood, and building connections that make those neighborhoods great places to live.”

Shannon Mulkey and Christy Petterson of Indie Craft Experience

“It’s important to shop local to be part of a community and support our friends’ growth and dreams,” said Cami Adair of Blabla Kids. The small shop is tucked away in Virginia-Highland and is unique in that they design their own products like the famous knitted dolls in the studio shop.Though it’s not realistic to buy everything locally, there is something special about being able to know you’ve contributed to your community. “It creates synergy and good karma,” Adair said.

Shannon and Christy of Indie Craft Experience (ICE) agree that supporting one another within the community is imporant. ICE is an organization that brings together tons of vendors for their seasonal pop-up markets, and now has opened a permanent storefront in Candler Park. “Buying directly from an artist means you know exactly where your money is going,” said Christy. “That’s pretty powerful!”

See more photos of these shops and read more of their interviews below!


 

Treehouse Kid & Craft: Kristen Bell
533 W. Howard Ave
treehousekidandcraft.com

Q: What sets your shop apart?
A: I think shopping locally always creates a special experience.  There are several reasons why we think TREEHOUSE is one of those places that sets us apart from other stores.  One,we love it when you bring your kids into our shop to play!  Two, we also put a lot of energy into or displays and making our shop be an inspiring experience.  We hope that this inspires our customers to go home and make something! Three, customer service is our top priority!  We have a genuine love for our products and what we stand for.  We are always willing to help our and give suggestions to customers and we always have free wrapping!
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Q: Why is it important to “shop local”? 
A: There are so many reasons why I think it is important to shop local.  Shopping local can directly impact each one of us in a huge way!  Not only does more money stay in our community but it also has some major environmental  benefits as well. I also think the overall shopping experience is completely different.  Smaller shops are more familiar with their customers, what their customer likes, and also we can offer more services like free wrapping and good customer service that can impact shoppers in a big way.
 –

Q: Which local artisans are stocked in your shop & how do you choose the items you stock?
A: We currently offer a few local companies like Blabla, Tin Cup, Color your World, Little Lux, Methane Studios,and many local authors.  Since we are new to the Decatur area we have just started talks with a few other local designers and makers.  We look forward to making relationships with more as time goes on!

Q: How did you get started in this business?
A: Throughout my life, supporting local and small businesses has always been a priority to me.  When I was expecting (6 years ago) I was finding it hard to find baby and child items in my community of Athens, GA.  And so TREEHOUSE kid and craft was born!  I started planning and shortly after the birth of my daughter, Maypop… I opened up shop in Athens.  Several years later, my sister started working for me….commuting from Atlanta to Athens. A few months ago, we decided to join forces and open up a sister run, sister shop!  And now were are thrilled to call Decatur our home and offer a creative experience to it’s community!


The Beehive: Malene Davis
1250 Caroline St, C120
thebeehiveatl.com

Q: What sets your shop apart?
A: The beehive is Atlanta’s first boutique collective of its kind. We have been around for over 10 years and are still the only collective in town that remains completely designer owned and run. What this means is that when you come into the beehive to shop, you are shopping for a product that was made locally (95% of our artists live in the city of Atlanta) and you are speaking with a designer who actually sells a product in the store. While many of our counterparts tout themselves to be a collective, or to be “local,” they are not designer run or driven, and many of their products may be handmade, but weren’t made in Georgia…. These are important distinctions for someone to know if they are truly seeking to “shop local” and support local design. We know each and every one of our designers closely and can connect the customer with them when needed. Having that access, being able to visit a designer studio, being able to get custom orders when requested is truly what it means to shop locally, and we deliver that service to our customers each and every day.

Q: Why is it important to “shop local”?
A: The quick and simple answer is that a large portion of the dollar stays within the community where it was spent. As an example, the beehive has over 90 designers who live, work, eat, pay taxes, and support school systems in Atlanta. When a dollar is spent at the beehive on a local product by a customer, that dollar is then paid out to the designer for sales; thereafter, that same dollar goes forward to sustain the community where that designer and her/his family lives. It’s a cyclical effect that helps all, keeps the dollar local, and helps sustain the communities and small neighborhoods that are beloved in Atlanta.

Q: Which local artisans are stocked in your shop & how do you choose the items you stock?
A: We currently have over 90 local designers who sell in the store (I’m happy to send you a list of all of them if you’d like…. If you’d prefer several artists from each genre, let me know and I’ll get that list to you. Otherwise, it’s a VERY long list). 🙂 Some of our more notable local designers include Block & Hammer, Amy Pieroni Designs, Katherine Smith Jewelry, CLIMB, Crafts & Love, The Little Nest, Flower Crown Society, and many, many more.

Q: How did you get started in this business?
A: I started out as a small independent jewelry designer and decided to take that creative trek in life after taking a short break from the business world when I returned to Atlanta to get married to my husband, Bryan (I attended Spelman College between 1996-2000 before leaving for law school at Syracuse). He challenged me to grow a business from the ground-up in one year’s time, and I took on that challenge full-force, with Beehive Co-op being one of my first retail locations. I became an integral part of the store’s operations, learning infrastructure, taking the time to get to know other designers interpersonally, and to learn the in’s and out’s of how a boutique works. I saw both positive and negative things about the way the business was run at that time, and thought there were processes that could be improved. When the opportunity arose for the business assets to be purchased in 2009, I jumped on that opportunity, moved it to our flagship location in Edgewood Retail District, and have been able to grow the business by 15% – 30% every year since opening doors in April 2010. We continue to grow today as Atlanta’s longest-run and strongest designer collective, and are now opening our second location as a Pop-Up concept in Vinings Jubilee for holiday 2015. We see only great things in store in the coming months and years for the Beehive community.


 

Hodgepodge Coffee House: Lynne Tanzer
720 Moreland Ave SW
hodgepodgecoffee.com

Q: What sets your shop apart?
A: We really love the underdog; The person just starting out, that Atlanta hasn’t seen yet: that’s who I want in the shop. I like finding folks straight out of art school or encouraging that stay at home mom that her embroidery IS good enough to be her side business.
We do have some Atlanta staples that you can find elsewhere because they speak to our customer, but you will ALWAYS see something that you won’t find ANYWHERE else. I work really hard to ensure that.
  –
Q: Why is it important to “shop local”?
A: So that your money stays in your economy! Local businesses are so so important- they employ local people, support and sponsor local events and charities allowing community to thrive. We are more invested in our customers and go the extra mile to make you happy because we know you personally- you are our kids teachers, our dentist and our neighbors. I can’t explain the joy that comes with writing a commission check and knowing that it’s going to our neighbor to buy their kid new boots for school or toward their grad school tuition fund. It’s magic!
   –
Q:  Which local artisans are stocked in your shop & how do you choose the items you stock?
A: At the moment we stock Lindy Lane original art, Ashley Anderson original art, prints and hand illustrated ceramics, Morgan Ashley original art and prints, Sign Me Up Signs hand painted signs, Audriana Sanahuja textiles, Yo Soy Candles, Mechanica jewelry, Lynx handmade jewelry, Queen of spades jewelry, Monica Alexander fine art , J&A wares jewelry and keychains, and I have two vendors from outside of GA, those are Worthwhile Paper goods and Scribble Studio mugs who used to be based in Alpharetta, but moved to Florida.We change vendors every 3 months: so on December 1st we will have SQuishiepuss wall art, Big Yellow Dog (stationary), Be Good (jewelry), Crazy Monkey Trucker (wall art) , A Sensible Habit (stationary), Lyndsay Marbury (prints and originals), Studio 23 (nail polish), Michele Maule (greetings cards and art prints), Gerald Jones (body butter), and Ashley Beresch (cards and prints).There’s no real formula to choosing the items we stock- mainly it’s a feeling. We lean toward folk and street art for sure. Our customer enjoys handcrafted items, that are thoughtful, unusual and we’ll sell more of anything that has a swear word on it.

 

Q: How did you get started in this business?
A: My business partner Krystle and I were dissatisfied with our jobs and got to talking about what we’d do if we knew we couldn’t fail. Krystle made the BEST desserts I had ever tasted and I loved art and coffee, so Hodgepodge seemed like the only logical thing to do.


Fig & Flower: Sara Lamond
636 N. Highland Ave.
cosmeticsstoreatlantaga.com

Q: What sets your shop apart?
A: What sets Fig & Flower apart is that I created the store not only to sell makeup, but to spread a message about the ingredients we use in our daily lives on our skin or in our homes. I love playing in makeup an all, but there’s a deeper message here about purity, quality, and sustainability.

Q: Why is it important to “shop local”?
A:
There’s the whole adage about putting money back in communities and all, but the real value of shopping local is putting community back in our communities. I’ve met so many of my neighbors through the store, many of whom I now consider my friends. When you shop local, you’re supporting a neighbor, a neighborhood, and building connections that make those neighborhoods great places to live.

Q: Which local artisans are stocked in your shop & how do you choose the items you stock?
A: We carry local soap company, Revive Bath + Body, the internationally regarded skincare line HollyBeth Organics, and Eureka! Balm, which utilizes a 100 year old recipe for its vapor and sore muscle rub. We choose our brands based on purity of ingredients and quality of performance. I also like to support local and small business when I can, and we only carry American made brands at the moment.

Q: How did you get started in this business?
A:
With a whole lot of blind faith!


 

Blabla Kids: Florence Wetterwald and Susan Pritchett
1189 Virginia Ave.
blablakids.com

Q: What set your shop apart?
Susan: We have a sign above the shop door that says ” l’atelier”. It means “workshop” in French, and we are next door to our design studio. Our store has one of a kind pieces, “experiments”, and many things that can’t be found in other stores to whom we sell. We also carry our entire range of product, bedding and decor, and all doll designs, including hard to find rarities.

Our store windows are often interesting because Florence our designer, who is also a French artist, likes to expand on the image of Blabla through her work in paper maché, a look that you can recognize on our website or in our books (soon to be published by Random House).

Florence: Our store is not a typical store because it is an integrated part of our headquarters where we operate our wholesale and website business. It is a little bit like our science lab. We sell our entire collection here but you can also find one of a kind samples and retired items. We experiment with merchandising and often use the space for photoshoots because of the beautiful natural light.

It’s also a dynamic place because our entire team is around. Our sales team and our marketing team is in the back of the store and the design studio is next door. We bounce ideas off each other all the time and work together on projects. Our store is located at the corner of Virginia Ave and Rosedale Dr., off the beaten path but it is a destination for our customers. Customers and fans from as far away as Japan and Australia have come here on purpose.

Q: Why is it important to shop local?
F: It’s important to shop local to be part of a community and support our friends growth and dreams. It creates synergy and good karma. That said we don’t think that people should only buy locally. We do not advocate total protectionism. We believe that the world should see itself as a big community instead of antagonistic parts, it would create a more peaceful planet…but that is the romantic in us…in light of the latest events in Paris.

Q: Which local artisans are stocked in your shop and how do you choose the items you stock?
F: We mostly carry our own products which are knitted dolls and home decor accessories for children. They are designed here in our studio and made in Peru by skilled artisans. We sometimes carry other local children brands which we like to support like the adorable Willaby clothing line or we invite artists in our store, like Tim Arnold, an all time favorite silhouette scissor cutter extraordinaire.

Q: How did you get started in this business?
S: Blabla was created in 2001 by us, Susan Pritchett and Florence Wetterwald, two good friends with the same philosophy of life and beauty.

While visiting Peru, we came across entire villages of expert knitters who had been keeping the tradition alive for generations. Inspired by their talent and touched by their gentle spirit, we decided to start our own company of knitted products for children. We have now been collaborating with the same artisans for over a decade.

With a commitment to fair trade, and keeping environmental awareness in mind, blabla’s mission is to continue to inspire joy and laughter. We feel very lucky to be able to bring a little bit of tenderness to so many children every day.


MadeAgain: Margeau Bull
299 N. Highland Ave
madeagainatl.com

Q: What sets your shop apart?
A: Made Again is not only a multi-discipline art gallery from local artisans, but it is a resource hub for artists’ wanting to excel their companies. We offer a full-service list to them for product photography, brand development, business mentorship, marketing, event space, art exhibits, online and retail platform sales, so they can focus on creation while leaving the business to us. We are their story-tellers and highlight 2 artists a month on the front of our building and through social media to showcase the behind the scenes to their process, bio and how their process is sustainable. Made Again artists have to follow our sustainable criteria within their production and disposal to be represented. We provide several ways for inclusion, whether it be making products from recycled or repurposed pieces, using vintage or antique components, sourcing materials locally, or even using new material wood sources found in abundance.

Another differentiating aspect is for the client and designer benefit. We are a custom-made hub, working directly with our artists, so we help create any piece of furniture, fine art, lighting, or textile done to their specifications under one roof and offer a personalization in customer service.

Q: Why is it important to “shop local”?
A: Local businesses are what shape our community landscape; thus differentiating us from other cities. Most importantly, by patronizing local business, we are supporting our community’s local economy. It is something tangible we can feel and take action in our everyday lives and make businesses thrive. Made Again manages over 90 different artists, so by shopping at one local business you can support a multitude of creative entrepreneurs’ businesses in one stop.

Q: Which local artisans are stocked in your shop and how do you choose the items you stock?
A: We have over 90 different Atlanta artists under our roof, so I may here awhile 😉 but we choose based on aesthetic, quality, and uniqueness. Our showroom is a carefully, curated selection of Atlanta’s best talent. We scout endlessly and are always surprised at what this city holds around the corner, whether it be new talent emerging or a seasoned artist who may have been intimidated to take the first step to be considered for a gallery.

Q: How did you get started in this business?
A: I started the company as an artist having gone through art school and was spit into the real-world without any guidance on how to commercialize myself and make money. I took many opportunities since school to explore the world in many different industries, including business and marketing school, talent management, but was always drawn back to providing artists the “easy button” to get the exposure and services they need to jump start their business whether growing or established.


Byrd’s Box: AC Smallwood
171 Auburn Ave.
thebyrdsbox.com

Q: What sets your shop apart?
A: Everything in the shop is carefully curated by myself and my business partner, Nina. All the displays were built by us, or by friends/neighbors. We work hard to support the artists and makers in our community by being accessible and giving 60-70% of profits back to the artists. We partner with local charities and organizations to make sure that our impact to the community is as positive as possible.

Q: Why is it important to “shop local”?
A: When you shop local and independent, you are not just buying an item, you are strengthening the local economy by keeping more money in your community. Shopping local, and handmade, creates a greater network of support to the members of your community. You are helping your neighbors pay their rent, car payment, or buy groceries.

Q: Which local artisans are stocked in your shop & how do you choose the items you stock?
A: Some of our most popular local Atlanta lines are: Yo Soy Candles, Revive Bath Products, You’ve Been Noted T-Shrts, and Admiral Row Jewelry. Everything in the shop is handpicked with a focus on keeping it as local to Atlanta or the South East as possible. We strive to find product lines that have inspiring back stories, meaningful messages, or that give back to our community in some way. Another factor, that especially effects our bath & home good items, is finding items that are all natural and eco friendly.

Q: How did you get started in this business?
A: I’ve been a working professional actor since I was 18, and thought that would be my “life’s work”. My mum was a jewelry designer who sold her wares at local arts festivals, and eventually wholesale to boutiques all over the country. I worked for her and some other clothing/accessories lines as my “day job” in between acting gigs. My mum and I started to dream of owning our own shop, instead of just selling our goods to them. Sadly, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and passed away before we could turn that dream into a reality. After her passing, I began to search for opportunities to sell what was left of the jewelry line’s products. This led me to a grant program the city was doing to open pop-up shops along the Atlanta Streetcar route. I applied, with the help of my best friend and now business partner, Nina Dolgin, and we were accepted. This was the creation of The Byrd’s Box (named in homage to my mum, Robyn) and after the pop up program ended, we decided to stay on permanently.


Young Blood Boutique: Rebecca Hannah
632 N. Highland Ave
youngbloodboutique.com

Q: What sets your shop apart?
A: We spend countless hours each month searching for new-to-us artists, designers, or makers that are passionate about their craft. We put a lot of thought and intention into deciding which makers would bring something new or exciting to Atlanta. Often, a lot of the artists that we work with can only be found in our shop and creating a unique shopping experience is among the top of our priorities.

Q: Why is it important to “shop local”?
A: There are so many reasons! To start, shopping locally, or even regionally, is one of the most direct ways we can support the communities that we live, work and play in each day. Plus, local businesses are the flavor of a city! We’re lucky to have so many amazing, locally-owned shops and restaurants in Atlanta and for us these places contribute immensely to a richer life experience. Our customers are just the best people in the city. They’re all so kind and cool…they’re the reason we get to keep doing what we love, which is helping support makers in doing what they love.

Q: Which local artisans are stocked in your shop & how do you choose the items you stock?
A: Right now we’re stocking jewelry from Crafts + Love, leather goods from Neva Opet, ceramics from Honeycomb Studio, bath and body from Aster and Bay, and art prints from Katie Ridley Murphy, to name just a few. First, we look for high quality goods that we love…things we want to buy ourselves! Then we learn a little more about the artist like what their process is, what they’re passionate about, and then we assess fit within our current collection to make sure everything in the shop works together harmoniously.

P.S. Starting December 1st, we’re extending our hours and opening at 10am every day.


Indie Craft Experience: Christy Petterson
1390 McLendon Ave
ice-atlanta.com

Q: Why is it important to “shop local”?
A: We started the Indie Craft Experience in order to provide local crafters and artists with an opportunity to sell their creations directly to local shoppers. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that we provide an opportunity for shoppers that is every bit as important. Buying directly from an artist means you know exactly where your money is going. It is staying in your local economy and is supporting an individual who is making a living using their talent and skills. That’s pretty powerful! Plus, your gift giving becomes much more profound and special because you met the person who made the gift and hopefully had a really great time buying it. Now you have a gift to give and a story to tell!

 

Isadora Pennington

Isadora Pennington is a writer and photographer based in Atlanta.