The past year, small businesses have had to scramble for creative ways to push through a pandemic. For The Local Artisan Collective, it takes art boxes, online art classes, increased shipping and a supportive community of artists and patrons.
Store owners Jenny Venegas and Stephanie Howerton said they’ve had an “outpouring” of support from the community, especially during the holidays. They say many patrons gave generous tips and donations to help pay the light bills.
“Someone gave us $100 and said, ‘We want to see you here in six months,’” recalls Howerton.
Last September, the artists at The Collective donated art to auction, and the online event brought customers who paid above retail for items. “It was really humbling,” Venegas said. “I was in tears that night.”
Speaking of the response from customers at the auction, tears welled up in Venegas’ eyes again. “People are cheering for us,” she remembers thinking at the time. “I can push through and figure out how to get through another month.”
In many ways, COVID-19 now shapes what artists create and encourages new collaborations. Ogden Nature Center and The Collective teamed up to sell handmade masks by Howerton and other artists. Glass blower Mike Hurst started making “coronaments” that sold out quickly over the 2020 holiday season.
The artists are increasingly creating art together, collaborations that probably would have never happened if not for the coronavirus outbreak, according to Howerton. Hurst also makes calligraphy pens and uses artist Roxanne Vigos’ ink. Leather-crafter Earl Talbot and René Venegas of Galleon’s Gold Jewelry are making leather bracelets adorned with metal coins. Vigos (Sago Adornment) and Howerton (Our Children’s Earth) are teaming up for clothes making, and Cory Erikson is making purses out of Vigos’ plant-dyed fabrics.
Charity Judkins and Cally Ortiz of Modern Elemental Ergon fuse together the art of wood burning and painting. Judkins creates patterns into beautiful recycled wood using 2,500 volts of electricity and Ortiz enhances them with landscapes of color.
Over 80 artists of all ages, some between 13 and 18, showcase their works and teach classes of all kinds, from sewing and jewelry-making to Cricut machine vinyl lettering, woodwork, painting and many more.
Art kits and date night boxes include all materials and instructions for a creative night at home and can be purchased online or in the store. Three to five classes a week, online and in-store, are offered — and now are attended by people nationwide not just within 30 miles as before the pandemic. Howerton and Venegas had never offered online classes before 2020 and now think they’re here to stay for their popularity even after the lockdown.
If the Local Artisan Collective hadn’t been there, many artists would have lost their main source of revenue at festivals and shows that were canceled. Now, the creative community at The Collective is stronger than ever; more than a shop to sell art, it’s a place for mentorship, mutual partnership and business support.
“It was really important to us that we help artists along the way,” Howerton said.
Join The Local Artisan Collective, shop, or find art classes at localartisancollective.com.