Embellish Asheville: How it started, and why it still matters
Welcome! I’m glad you’re here!
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Life is busy and I don’t take your time for granted! I’ve decided to add this blog to this website for many reasons, but mostly to have a space to share relevant information, sometimes our opinions and a story or two! Starting with how this wonderful shop came to be.
The short story is, I was considering returning to an old job after a year of travel. But my very handsome (and editor) husband suggested that I chase my pipe dream, and here we are, sort of!
I’ve always loved jewelry and accessories, please note the pure joy on my face holding my grandma's handbag! Not the department store kind, the unique kind, the special kind, the handmade kind. Almost always the kind I couldn’t afford — think Sundance Catalog circa 1990. Am I dating my self?
I fondly remember my Aunt Barb’s (I’m named after her) jewelry collection. It was a clear plastic shoe-holder type thing that hung on a closet door. It was FULL of every bead and bauble and chain you could imagine, and she let me play with all of it!
It was the beginning of the end. :)
Starting in Chicago
That pipe dream was a little shop dedicated to small independent designers and makers that was accessible and affordable. An elusive find in Chicago, where we were living at the time. There was nowhere for me to shop in my own neighborhood, so I opened my own place.
I had no idea what I was doing. None. My education and work experience did not lend itself to entrepreneurship or retail.
But, I was passionate about supporting small makers and finding beautiful, unique wares to share, so I went with that. I read a few books, had a couple of good friends share their wisdom, got an SBA loan and I more or less worked it out!
Taking it to the next level in Asheville
Fast forward many years, we moved to the picture perfect town of Asheville, North Carolina. Again, there wasn’t anywhere I could find indie-made jewelry and accessories with a minimal and modern aesthetic at an affordable price point.
So, almost seven yers ago, I rented 59 Broadway Street, a space three times that of my original store (what was I thinking?!) and opened Embellish Asheville. This time I knew a little bit more and I was warmly welcomed by Asheville as well as tourists from across the country, and around the world. It was great.
You know what’s coming next, right? Yeah, Covid. March 2020 took everything I thought I knew, all my expertise and stomped on it.
Getting it all online
But, like most things, there’s a silver lining. It’s this website.
For as much as I love retail, I had a narrow notion of what it could be, that being brick & mortar. I did not want a website, I did not want to sell online. But the pandemic forced my hand, the shop was shut down for 9 weeks, I needed a way to sell my products and here we are. Turns out, there’s just as much creativity and heart that goes into this website as does the shop.
Don’t tell anyone, but I kind of love it some days.
And why this still matters? Because so many people love indie accessories and jewelry and supporting makers and artists! And we support over 60 makers right now; our success is their success. Many are one-woman shows, some a bit larger — but all are independent, running their own small businesses, paying people properly for their talent, time and effort. They make beautiful things, some simple, some sentimental, some badass, each with their own unique character and style. And that's important, don't you think?
And it’s my honor to share it with you.
So far, so good. :)
And if you find yourself on the North side of Chicago, go see my dear friend Carrie, the owner of Embellish Chicago.
xo ~ Barb