Embellish Asheville Has a Birthday!

What started as a dream has now flourished into a reality with embellish celebrating its one-year anniversary in downtown Asheville. 

A year ago, owner and boss lady Barb Skupien, set her sights on opening a store that would house locally handmade goods from independent designers and makers. Her vision was to keep it thoughtful, elegant and more importantly, a place that was inviting and warm for customers to enjoy.

Even at her own party, Barb is busy working!

Today she has succeeded in accomplishing just that (oh so well) …and why not celebrate those achievements with a party? All while inviting the community and her trusted designers to join in on the fun.

On October 6th, we hosted the festive event featuring signature cocktails by Bittermilk, a vendor out of Charleston, SC who takes the work out of making awesome cocktails with their collection of handcrafted mixers .

The cocktails were ahhhh-mazing!

For our guests’ sweet tooth, we featured a tiered popcorn stand with none other than local popcorn aficionado Poppy’s Popcorn whose storefront is located on Merrimon Ave in North Asheville. Her ability to make a sweet and salty caramel popcorn that you never want to stop eating is phenomenal.

The best part of the evening was the realization that everyone in attendance was having a fantastic time. That and of course the fact that local designer and all around lovely person Dawn Rentz held an exclusive trunk show with her collection of handbags, cocktail napkins and pillows. 

The overall feeling of the evening was that of community - old friends connected with new friends, walk-in customers enjoyed shopping the handmade jewelry selection and others simply enjoyed hearing the story of how embellish was born. 

Local designers getting to know each other, Rachel Weisberg and Ali Reznikoff.

While running a small business can be as nerve-wracking as running a small country, it is comforting to know that our sweet little shop is supported by so many. For that, we are incredibly grateful and can’t wait to see what embellish Asheville has in store for us in the future. 

Dawn Rentz Textiles

What a busy summer it has been here at embellish!  Not only did we manage to stay cool despite the unrelenting heat that swelled the streets of Downtown Asheville, along with the constant chaos of tourists (not a bad thing) but we also found time for a sit down with one of our favorite local designers in her North Asheville studio.

Dawn Rentz, creator and founder of Dawn Rentz Textiles is no stranger to running an independent business. After receiving her degree in ’92 from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Textile Designs she soon started a hand block-printed home linens business.  However, after a few years, her heart led her to painting, which she continued to do for the next 24 years. 

Dawn in her studio

Although she still paints, she found herself going back to her roots. In this case – textiles. She found inspiration in organic shapes and various plant forms and started hand carving her own textile stamps. Soon this inspiration turned into her creating a new line of textiles including handbags, cocktail napkins and pillows. The process starts with hand drawn shapes, which she then carves into rubber stamps. 

Hand carved rubber stamps

From there Dawn creates a fluid design and then uses special ink to screen-print the design onto linen, canvas or twill. The process is intricate and requires each step to be meticulously executed.

Working the ink through and pressing into the fabric

The outcome is pure beauty, with their rustic modern aesthetic and simple line work. It’s elegant yet unrefined.  And each textile is given individual attention, no mass production here.

Textile Fabrics

Cocktail Napkins

After the textiles are printed, they are hung to dry before being steamed and pressed. Then they are sent off for sewing, where they are paired with leather for handbags or turned into beautiful linen pillows. 

Fold over clutches

For many local artists and designers, there is always the challenge of not only creating something you love and believe in, but also transferring that love onto the consumer. In our opinion, Dawn Rentz has done just that – her vision and dedication to her “art” has created a unique and modern line of accessories that appear effortless. Of course, now that we have seen the process it is the effort she puts forth that creates this effortless quality. 

To see more of Dawn's amazing work, stop by our storefront - we are hosting an exclusive trunk show on October 6th at 6pm. 

Independent Designers: Simplicity Behind Success

It’s an exciting time to be a small business and better yet, an independent designer. More and more the creative workforce is leaving the typical Monday thru Friday desk jobs to venture out on their own, in search of success and a better quality of life. And we as consumers are reaping the benefits. Their products are innovative, fashionable and downright amazing. 

embellish Asheville owner Barb Skupien in her domain.

embellish Asheville owner Barb Skupien in her domain.

At embellish Asheville we feature some of the most talented independent designers in the region - jewelry artists, potters, handbag creators, textile geniuses and leather experts, just to name a few.  And a large percentage of those designers are participating advocates for the Reduce Reuse Recycle movement with many of their products being made with repurposed materials. 

The beauty of being an independent designer is two-fold. On one hand, there is the freedom, the freedom to create their own unique vision and to bring it to the consumer. The other is that of sheer simplicity. A simple idea, executed perfectly could easily be the key to success!

Conduit-Press Leaf Pressed Leather

Talia Halliday, owner and operator of Conduit-Press creates handmade leather goods, journals, handbags and these beautiful leaf bowls. She uses actuals leaves from her yard and presses them into repurposed leather. She believes in taking something “lost and forgotten” and transforming it into something “new and beautiful.”

Mini-weaving necklace by Twenty Two West Studio

Mary Hamby owns and operates the Twenty-Two West Studio in Chatanooga. A self-proclaimed fiber artist, Mary creates miniature weavings on a loom smaller than her hand. The finished product is unique, beautiful and completely wearable. Mary supports other artists in her community, and uses Twenty-Two West as a space for collaboration as well as private studios.

Oak Leaf Pottery - Allison Gross

Allison Gross worked as an art educator and part-time cake decorator before pursuing ceramics full-time. Now she is the creative muscle behind her own outfit – Oak Leaf Pottery of Spartanburg, South Carolina. All of her rustic pieces are wheel-thrown and handmade, with her inspiration coming directly from nature and her time spent camping with her family.

We understand that being independent means the freedom to imagine and create your own vision, but there are many challenges and obstacles that come with that. There is no time clock, there is no true “day off.” Independent means working hard, everyday, sometimes on your own and always, always creating something new. We here at embellish feel fortunate to carry products from such amazing designers and are proud to continue to support those hard-working individuals, because the independent movement can only be sustained through togetherness. 

Moms We Love

At embellish we proudly feature jewelry and accessories from a wonderfully diverse mix of makers and celebrate the hardworking, local, independent designers who spend hours honing their craft. From that diverse mix comes designers who wear many hats – business owner, jewelry maker, team cheerleader, social media aficionado, The Boss, wife (or husband) and in many cases - Mommy. 

In the spirit of Mother’s Day we wanted to honor a few of our favorite designers -  Melissa Lowery and Laurel Denise.

Melissa Lowery: 

Owner and creator of SSD Jewelry, Melissa has been handmaking her own jewelry for over 15 years. Her aesthetic lies in combining recycled and/or vintage metals with homemade patina recipes to create unique and refined statement pieces.  

Melissa dropped off her latest order after attending the LEAF Festival in Black Mountain.

Melissa dropped off her latest order after attending the LEAF Festival in Black Mountain.

"My goal is that my jewelry will connect with someone—visually and emotionally and that my production process will leave a small of a "footprint" environmentally as possible." 

The business is a family affair with her husband, Brian taking care of all her media work and her two daughters attending shows and festivals with her while also selling their own artwork - during the LEAF festival they successfully sold t-shirts to festival goers. 

Melissa here at embellish with her two daughters, Logan and Austyn and husband Brian. 

Melissa here at embellish with her two daughters, Logan and Austyn and husband Brian. 

Laurel Denise:

In 2005, Laurel Denise Smith was working in Washington, DC and she had a dream where she was using new tools and materials to create jewelry – "tools and materials I’d never used before!" Six months later, due to her slightly obsessive and, well, “determined” personality, she had a website and her first orders. The rest, as they say, is history.

#Inspiration from Laurel Denise - via Instagram

#Inspiration from Laurel Denise - via Instagram

She now spends her days making beautiful things filled with inspiration and happiness in Charlottesville, VA where she lives  happily with her husband, daughter and new baby. You can find her juggling mommy-hood and jewelry making in her studio, opting to bring the little ones with her to work as she continues to grow her business. 

Laurel Denise gets help from her daughter and studio maker - via Instagram. 

Laurel Denise gets help from her daughter and studio maker - via Instagram.