Monday, June 29, 2009

Meet the Neighbors: Kreatelier

This is a second in a series of blog postings about our wonderful neighbors on Hope Street.

Kreatelier opened in its current location eight months ago and rapidly established itself as a neighborhood favorite. We sat down with co-owners Pernilla and Line (pronounced "Lynne," seated right in photo) to talk about their experience.

For readers who haven't visited Kreatelier yet, we should explain that it has a three-part business model:
  1. they offer home interior services, including upholstery and window treatment fabrication.
  2. the retail store carries products Line & Pernilla developed themselves, plus compatible products developed by others. When you go in, you'll see a lot of things made from beautiful textiles, with a focus on personal organizers.
  3. in the back room they host sewing and crafts workshops for kids and adults. See the schedule of workshops and classes here. On days when the retail store is not open, they sometimes hold craft-themed birthday parties (though the demand for these has grown so great they have difficulty accommodating all the requests).

When Pernilla & Line moved their business out of a studio space in Pawtucket and into its current retail space, they had no way of knowing how they would be received in the neighborhood. "You can look at the square footage and the appearance of the neighborhood, but beyond that it's a gamble." But the merchant community was immediately welcoming: Studio Hop, Frog and Toad, Fresh Purls and the other neighbors have all been very supportive, and Kreatelier tries to return the favor. "When people buy a gift at our shop and want to enclose a card, we send them over to Frog and Toad. Asher and Erin have a great line of cards, which we don't carry." They've also been talking to our own Karen about organizing a craft class that combines sewing with knitting and/or crocheting.

They have been equally welcomed by the neighborhood residents, many of whom have become customers. Hope Street attracts all types of walkers: college students, young families with strollers, single professionals. Kreatelier's high eye-candy factor draws everyone in sooner or later. "People stop in all the time just to say 'Hi'." After the better part of a year in business, the store is still greeting first-time customers from the surrounding neighborhood.

Line & Pernilla are also supporters of the 3/50 Project (discussed in this earlier blog post), and they recognize that shopping locally is a two-way street. "When we first opened the retail store, we visited a gift wholesale show in New York." Almost everything they saw there was made in China (though sometimes they had to dig to uncover that fact). Since they've opened, so many local crafters and creative people have brought in their work that now the shop is about 50% locally-sourced, including Kreatelier's own line of manufactured goods, which are sewn in a small factory in Massachusetts.

Kreatelier also connects locally by contracting local services. The Groden Center provides a window-washing service, and the shop donates fabric remnants, packing materials and other re-usable cast-offs to Recycling for RI Education, a non-profit that takes clean, re-usable materials and recycles them to local schools, teachers and students as raw materials for art projects. In addition, the flowers in the barrel out front are from the Groden Center, and the new sidewalk trash containers on the street were fabricated at the Steelyard (the installation of both was facilitated by Hope Street Merchants Assocation, of which Kreatelier is a member).

Have you visited Kreatelier yet? What's your favorite thing about shopping on Hope Street? Tell us in the comments.

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