Tag Archives: makers

Profile: Peacock Soap Company

Beyond the Gift

The unique origins of locally-owned Peacock Soap Company

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

To celebrate her 10-year anniversary, Kristie Paxton and her husband spent a week driving along the west coast. One night, they found themselves at a cute, very hospitable, Bed and Breakfast in Oregon. The owners had one room left to offer the Southwest Virginia couple, and it had a bathtub, but no shower.

“They felt so guilty about it that they stocked the room with soaps and lotions,” Kristie recalls. “They didn’t really sell them, but they allowed me to purchase some. I brought them home, used them up, and requested more.”

Soon after, Kristie decided to start making her own soaps for personal use. With a little help from the Bed and Breakfast owners and a few books, she quickly found that her new hobby yielded enough product to sell to the community as well. She opened Peacock Soap Company, lovingly named for her grandmother’s affinity for raising peacocks. For the past eight years, she has made and sold soaps, lotions, and other toiletries at local stores and the Grandin Farmers Market. Recently, she expanded her line to include beeswax and soap nuts.

“[Soap nuts] are literally a nut grown on a tree,” Kristie explains. “The nuts are grown in India. I buy them and package them. They are a really interesting alternative to laundry detergent.” Kristie has started using soap nuts in her home as well. “They are completely reusable,” she adds. “You can throw them in the washing machine five or six times and then compost them.”

Peacock Soap Company stands out from the competition with unique scent offerings. Their beer and wine soaps actually contain beer and wine, and the sugar content makes each soap extra sudsy. (This would be a great stocking stuffer for the wine or beer lover in your life!) Additional scents for the winter season will include Crackling Firewood, Ginger Snap, Evergreen, and the signa-ture Peacock Bar.

Kristie also makes hand and body lotions, lightweight face lotions, lip balm, and liquid soaps. You can find her, on occasion, as a fill-in vendor at the Grandin Farmers Market. Her products are
also sold at Downshift and the Treehouse Collaborative. Additionally, Kristie will participate in the KrisKindle Market at the Clifton Forge School of the Arts this month! Stay updated on Peacock Soap Company and purchase directly from a link to their Etsy page by following them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/peacocksoapco. Finally, if you see Kristie at the Grandin Farmers Market, be on the lookout for a special touch on her table!

Another nod to her grandmother, Kristie displays her packaged soaps on her grandmother’s china. “It’s kind of sweet because I get that question a lot about where my name came from,”she says. “It’s nice to be able to tote her along.”

Hayleigh is a freelance writer, independent author, and writing consultant. In 2017, she published her first novel, The Huntsman: A modern retelling of Red Riding Hood. She spends a lot of time traveling and exploring new regions for inspiration, but Roanoke will always be her home. www.hayleighworgan.com.

Virginia Made: RIOT Rooster

Holiday Shopping

Support local artisans and small businesses while celebrating RIOT Rooster’s 10th Anniversary!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

To say we are excited about RIOT Rooster is an under-statement! This month, RIOT Rooster will celebrate its 10th year, and will host their two-day event at 16 West Marketplace. Come on out to shop small, relax, and celebrate with your favorite Bella girls on Friday, November 16 from 5-10pm and Saturday, November 17 from 9am-6pm!

As returning fans of this event already know, there are many reasons to love and support RIOT Rooster. In addition to the importance of supporting local, small businesses, RIOT Rooster is a place that puts the fun back in holiday shopping. Unlike other shopping events in the area, it is open to the public with no admis-sion fee! Community is the main focus here, and you’ll find that in the details. Always family-friendly, special features include a fire-pit lounge and the Cactus Joe Choo Choo, which will offer free down-town rides to attendees.

Several artists participating this year are making limited edition items to commemorate the 10th anniversary of this special event. First up, one of our personal favorites: Piper Lane, of Magpiper Metalworks (www.facebook.com/magpipermetalworks), is creating a “ring for the resistance”. She will offer ten of these limited edition, adjustable rings, exclusively for RIOT Rooster.

Next, Giant Star (www.facebook.com/giantstarco), a collaboration between Josh Gibson of Giant Step Design and Stratton Delany from Starlight Bicycles, will offer a limited edition RIOT Rooster tee available only at this year’s event. They will also sell their popular stock designs of regional natural assets such as McAffee Knob and The Cove.

Finally, Robin Gross and Andy Dillon of Transcendent Glass (www.facebook.com/TranscendentGlass), a knitting and glass-making business, will create their own limited edition collaborative piece for RIOT Rooster. Keep an eye out on social media for more details as they are available!

With what we know about RIOT Rooster, 16 West Marketplace will be filled with talented artisans, and there will be something special for everyone! This is the place to find handmade, upcycled, recycled, and odd and useful gifts for all of the people who are hard to shop for on your holiday lists. Set aside time to browse and enjoy the environment—you won’t even have to leave for food and beverages!

Existing businesses will be open inside 16 West Market-place, including Little Green Hive and Wok n Roll Kitchen. The Roanoke City Democratic Committee will also serve craft libations on both days, with all proceeds benefitting the West End Center.

This event is eagerly anticipated by those who attend every November, so don’t miss your opportunity to get there on Friday night and take advantage of swag while you shop for the limited-edition items throughout 16 West Marketplace! Stay tuned to RIOT Rooster’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RIOTRooster) for vendor updates, giveaways, and more!

 

Hayleigh is a freelance writer, independent author, and writing consultant. In 2017, she published her first novel, The Huntsman: A modern retelling of Red Riding Hood. She spends a lot of time traveling and exploring new regions for inspiration, but Roanoke will always be her home. www.hayleighworgan.com.

Virginia Made

Meet April Chavez of 704 North Design Co. 

The holiday season is upon us. The hustle and bustle of November is welcome as plans are made for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The last two months of the year are here with promises of warm gatherings with family and friends, food and laughter. There’s a mood of festivity in theair as plans are made and gift shopping begins. Makers like April Chavez, owner and artist of 704 North Design Co finds herself especially busy during this time. Her painted signs of Blue Ridge inspired mountains and inspirational sayings are in high demand during theseason. 

As a stay-at-home mom, art is an outlet for April. Born and raised in Iowa, when she moved to Lynchburg 15 years ago for college, her family came right along with her. Now married with two children, family remains at the top of her priority list. While her children are at school, the ins and outs of 704 North keeps this maker busy. Beginning the business with more than just wood signs, April has now found her niche and business is booming. 

Lynchburg is known for having a strong community who support local business owners and makers. That support along with a growing social media following and requests for herproducts in local stores and boutiques set April on the path to owning her own business. Realizing the demand for her work, she soon found herself with an Etsy shop and setting up at local markets. The recurring theme of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains is one of 704 North’s most popular designs. April’s inspirational signs also stand out as a declaration of her faith and personal motto to live a life worthy of the gospel ofChrist. 

April prides herself in the work that goes into each piece. From start to finish the designs are cut, sanded and painted by the maker. Other aspects of the business such as photographs and social media are all a part of her hard work. Local shows sometime become a family affair as her children and husband tag along to help set-up or simply just to bring meals or support. Much of the business was learned by trial and error. Fortunately, her parents who run a small business as well as her husband who also has a business provide sounding boards for ideas. 

Running the business is not all fun and games but what makes it worthwhile is the joy of customers as they fall in love with a piece and joyfully take it to its new home. 

All work and no play makes a dull day but even while painting April finds entertainment listening to conspiracy theory podcasts. Binge watching CW shows or Netflix is usually on the agenda with her husband on off days. Surprisingly enough, April is an avid sports fan and dreams of a vacation that includes going to the Masters. You can find her with her children taking trips to the skatepark with her son or taking her daughter to dance. Spending time with family is a priority most days because, as rewarding as 704 North Designs is, family is the greatest reward of all. 

For more details, find 704 North Design Co on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by Faith Jones

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer. Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and travelling. www.thehillcityhandmade.com 

Virginia Made – Guy Piper

Meet Marion Hedgepeth

Written by Faith Jones of Hill City HandmadeEvery day our social media feeds and timelines are full of hilarious memes. Most of the time they’re attached to instant thoughts of “that’s so me!” or a flash of a friend’s face who fits the description to a tee. “The mind of a creative person is like a web browser that has 2,857 tabs open all the time.” One would be hard pressed to find a maker who would debate this popular quote to be untrue. Marion Hedgepeth is one who agrees wholeheartedly. 

Marion’s maker journey began at the age of ten years old when she learned to knit. During her senior year in college, she opened her first handmade shop on Etsy. As with all things after college, life happens. A full-time job and being a full-time wife and mother took priority until 2015. Things began to change as she and her husband moved to Richmond from Lynchburg and she became a stay-at-home mom. Marion knew that this was her chance to begin rebranding her knitting business into Guy Piper (Handmade + Vintage). 

Inspired by the middle names of her daughters, Rebecca and Olive, Guy Piper has taken off in the last three years. Marion’s one stop shop for clever mugs and handmade accessories (including tote bags), speak to customers through pop culture and current events. If you’re a fan of those quirky ladies of the Golden Girls, you’re sure to find that quote from Sophia, Rose or Blanche on a mug. Yes, the one you wouldn’t dare say aloud. The handsewn tote bags of Guy Piper provide inspirational quotes on the outside and bold patterns that reflect her love of fabrics on the inside. A recently renovated sunroom in the Hedgepeth home serves as her studio and workspace. Yet another creative DIY Marion took on herself. 

As if she doesn’t have enough on her plate with one successful business, this maker is also the co-owner of Merry Bee Photobooth Co. “I have always described myself as a ‘restless creator’—meaning I’m always moving from one project to the next. I’m not quite happy if I’m not working on something.” Though it’s often tough to juggle homeschooling, running a store, photo booths and being a mommy, the future looks bright. Marion envisions Guy Piper expanding beyond her online shop and local craft markets and into retail stores.

Aside from working creatively, Marion enjoys her garden and hanging with her peeps. That would be peeps as in the four chickens she calls her BFFs. The surprises from this maker don’t end there. One of her life goals is to have a pet dwarf caiman someday to feed her crocodile/alligator obsession. That someday depends on a change of heart from her husband, which does not look promising in the near future.

For now, Marion is content spending time with her family and snuggling with her peeps as often as possible. www.guypiper.etsy.com

 

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer.  Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and travelling. Faith’s motto is, “Paris is always a good idea.”  www.thehillcityhandmade.com

 

Virginia Made: Sew Brave Designs

Meet May Gonzalez

Written by Faith Jones of Hill City Handmade

“April showers bring May flowers.” How often have we heard this old adage quoted? Every April, as we experience rainy days more often than not, we try to look on the bright side. We think about the reward and beauty the gloomy days will bring. That philosophy can be applied to May Gonzalez and the inspiring purpose that was birthed from her storm. 

Born in the Bronx and experiencing foster care in Texas, May eventually found her way to Richmond, VA. She jokes, “Oh boy, I have a Lifetime story, I’ve seen a lot in my 31 years.” In April 2012, May and her husband lost their first child to Trisomy 13, a genetic disorder which is considered incompatible with life. After receiving the news at 19 weeks, they made the difficult decision to go through with the pregnancy. Caleb was born “sleeping” at 32 weeks. Amidst the devastation and loss, May turned to sewing to deal with the grief. What began as hand sewing personalized pillows and baby moccasins soon manifested into much more.  

With her passion ignited, May began to focus on what she really loved, bags. Armed with a sewing machine (gifted from her mother-in-law), a few lessons from her husband’s aunt and plenty of YouTube videos, Sew Brave Designs was born. The name for the business came to her in a dream. “It was pretty clear from God. I wanted to combine my experience in life with my passion. I love sewing and I wanted to remind people that they too can be brave no matter what they face.”  

The handmade bags feature bold flowered fabrics combined with leather and are not only beautiful but make a difference. A portion of the proceeds for each one is donated to Noah’s Children in Richmond. The Bon Secours organization provides for the physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of patients and their families. Each donation is made in memory of Caleb and he lives on each time May sees someone carrying one of her creations. 

Though faced with the showers of life, May Gonzalez has found her flowers. She and her husband have since been blessed with two fun-loving boys, ages five and seven months. Life is not always easy but they face it together. Assuming there isn’t a Golden Girls marathon on, you might find May enjoying a date night involving tacos and movies or just hanging out and laughing with the family. Wherever she is, whatever she’s doing, you can be sure that May is counting her blessings and enjoying the flowers after the storm. 

www.sewbravedesigns.etsy.com

Faith Jones is a local entrepreneur, creative, and believer.  Her businesses include Faith Inspired and The Hill City Handmade. Faith has a degree in Art and Photography and is a former high school art and culinary teacher. She enjoys spending time with her family and travelling. Faith’s motto is, “Paris is always a good idea.” www.thehillcityhandmade.com

Just Creative People

Find your creative inspiration at Studio Six!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

Grace Brian (left) and Maggie Perrin-Key (right) met in November 2017. They connected immediately, and decided to open an art space together, Studio Six, located in The Aurora Studio Center in Downtown Roanoke. Their serendipitous meeting led them to realize that they had the same vision for an art space that welcomed creative people within the community through workshops and portfolio consultations. The artists complement one other, creating a fulfilling and nourishing space where their talents flourish.  

(Grace and Maggie photo by www.paigelucasphotography.com )

Both Grace and Maggie began developing their crafts at a young age. Grace received a sewing machine at age 10, and Maggie started oil painting during a summer camp in fourth grade. In her early years, Grace never considered fashion design as a career option. While planning for college, she didn’t think of it as something she wanted to pursue. After attending Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts (VCU) for a while, she went back to sewing and found that the stigma she had originally attached to fashion design kept her from seeing the bigger picture. More importantly, sewing made her happy. She decided to transfer to the College of Textiles at North Carolina State University, where she became interested in sustainability within the textile industry. 

As a young adult, Maggie continued her pursuit of the arts. First at VCU, and then at Hollins University. At Hollins, she studied printmaking, bookbinding, and papermaking. She also began exploring fiber art and textiles. 

“Coming from somewhere that was so arts-centered, I didn’t realize how important it was to have so much support for studying the arts. Originally, Maggie and I wanted to make a place where anybody, specifically young adults who are looking to pursue a career in the arts, can come and get that support. Guidance is important because a lot of people get to the art school application and they need a portfolio and they haven’t been working on one, don’t know what to do, or don’t know how to photograph their art,” explains Grace.

That initial idea morphed into something bigger, however, when the two decided to offer workshops within their space. The workshops have taken off, and with their success, Grace and Maggie have expanded their vision.

“I wanted an art space that was not as daunting and was more on community level where young people felt like they could come and hang out with us or make something,” says Maggie.

“There is a human desire to create things. It’s rewarding and confidence-boosting when you see something that you made. We want to be that outlet that gives people that opportunity. To be able to make something and create something gives you power and knowledge. In addition to knowing you can now do this, you will also know what goes into a painting the next time you see it. Consumer education is so important to me, so I think that when we are talking about the arts, this is consumer education in a way,” Grace adds.

Grace and Maggie offer portfolio consultation and open studio opportunities throughout the year. They also host popular workshops including Zodiac Embroidery, DIY Pom Pom Wall Hangings, Live Model Figure Drawing and so much more. Visit their Facebook page (@studiosixroanoke), Instagram (@studiosixroanoke), or visit their website at www.studiosixroanoke.com for more information on upcoming workshops and events!

Virginia Made: Lane Paper Works

Meet Sydney Lane of Lane Paper Works!

Written by Faith Jones, Hill City Handmade

In a complicated world, there’s something to be said for simplicity. Simple shapes and colors are the signature that twenty-four-year-old Sydney Lane has become known for. What began as hand drawn greeting cards has now grown into illustrations and custom portraits. Lane Paper Works has emerged to be the area’s go to source for uniquely illustrated family portraits, localities (Roanoke, Lynchburg, and Nashville to name a few), and pets. Each of Sydney’s digitally drawn designs capture her subjects in a cartoon-like way that has become instantly recognizable as her work. After graduating with a degree in Graphic Design and starting Lane Paper Works, she never dreamed that it would all take off so quickly.

Exactly one year from its internet launch, the company opened a storefront location on 11 S Main Street in Chatham. The quaint building features not only her own handcrafted designs but those of fellow makers. With a passion for supporting small businesses, the contents of the store consists of artisan gifts, each piece carefully selected from talents across the region. There are many advantages and challenges to going from a website to now running a store. Sydney has not given up her website or selling at handmade markets, she now has not only her products but all of the store inventory to take into consideration when making decisions.

Every day her she remembers the advice of her grandfather, who recently passed, “Do your best.” Sydney holds these words close to her heart as she goes through the day to day operations of planning out store products, display windows, and sales all while still creating for herself. While there are many pressure-filled days running the business, Sydney feels extremely humbled to have a supportive family and loyal customers who follow her work and shop in Lane Paper Works.

A self-proclaimed cat lady who takes pride in the unique names she gives her cats, Sydney also enjoys music. Her love of music keeps the tunes in the store changing to match her mood for the day. Every day is a fresh start. New and old customers to interact with and get to know, window displays to design around the season, and new work to create. Most importantly, every day is a day to be thankful as an artist and as a supporter of artists. Giving back is just as important as profiting. Her grandfather’s favorite three words of encouragement are featured in one of her prints whose proceeds benefit the American Heart Association. In addition, Lane Paper Works also supports another charity, A21 with proceeds from Sydney’s “Strong Women” print. “It is about 10% luck and 90% hard work, day in and day out. However, it is worth it—so worth it.”

For more information, visit www.lanepaperworks.com. She’s on Facebook and Instagram @Lanepaperworks. Enjoy a special discount during April for our readers! Enter code “lovelybella” for 25% OFF!!

Local business: Hawk + Owl Weaving

Meet Jen Whitcomb of Hawk + Owl Weaving

Interview by Samantha Fantozzi

How did you get your start with Hawk and Owl?

So my business came about from the need to just be creative again. I studied art in college and a couple years ago I stumbled across Maryanne Moodie; an Australian, well-known female weaver. And within the weaving world, she’s super popular. She made me want to learn to weave. Her weavings were super colorful, and full of texture and I thought ‘I really have to try that’: so, I did. And people really wanted to by them, which was a surprise. I didn’t plan on that becoming an actual business. But when they started reaching out to me, I opened an Etsy shop and it took off from there.

How did you come up with the name?

It’s about my kids. I have twins; boy and girl. My daughter was a really bad sleeper, so she was the night owl. My son was the opposite. They used to share a room, so it was totally insane. One would be awake, and one would be sleeping. So, when it came time to come up with a fictitious name, I had a hard time deciding and I finally landed on something funny that reminded me of them. Plus, my husband is super into birds, he can do like 400 different bird calls so it’s kind of a thing within our family. Not too much to do with weaving, just more of a family connection.

What kind of weavings can customers expect to find in your shop?

My color selections change seasonally, as do the designs. I don’t really plan out my designs, they’re mostly geometric, free-form weaving. They come in a variety of sizes from extra-large to small, and I also take custom orders. I try to have between 10 and 15 things in my shop at a time. Closer to the holidays I offer more smaller pieces like tassels and pom-poms. But, on a regular basis, just a broad selection of random geometric and bright pieces.

How long have you been weaving?

Not long, I would say 3 ½ years. I picked it up pretty quickly. I made my first loom. I took a premade frame that had canvas on it that was meant for painting. I stripped the canvas off and used the frame and hammered in some nails. After that, I started ordering professional looms. Made my first loom and just went to town: didn’t take too long to get into it.

Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve done?

I made a piece as a submission for a New England based magazine called Taproot Magazine. It was really big and had lots of heavy fringe. I photographed it on the Blue Ridge parkway and I still have it. It was fun to make, and it’s become one of my favorite pieces.

Find Jen on Facebook at Hawk + Owl Weaving; Instagram at hawk_and_owl_weaving; and hawkandowlweaving.com. Her website contains a small portfolio of her work. If you wish to make a purchase, you can either click her Etsy shop from her website or go to the shop directly at etsy.com/shop/hawkandowlweaving. She also posts about upcoming events, such as workshops and pop-up events, on her website. She does classes through Wool Workshop in Roanoke and will be having one this April.