I have some very exciting, unexpected news! I now have a little shop within the Mall of Saint Paul, a two floor mecca of mostly vintage pieces and beautiful collectible things in Saint Paul, Minnesota! There are over 60 vendors within the space including me now. We each have a little room or shop as I'm calling it, that we fill with whatever treasures we want to sell. I am integrating things that I've made including some cyanotypes, fabric earrings, napkins, greeting cards and whatever else I have around my studio...combined with pieces that I have collected from thrift stores and from my travels that I am ready to let go of. I am thinking of my little shop as a craft fair meets a flea market meets a thrift store meets a garage sale in the best possible way. It's colorful, eclectic, well organized and affordable.
It's funny how things work out and align sometimes when we pay attention. Like Steve Jobs said, "You can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards." I have loved collecting beautiful things and curating creatively since I can remember. Decorating my room as a kid, putting together crazy outfits in high school, thrift store shopping starting in college, buying little treasures when I traveled somewhere...those are just parts of who I am but how they connected to my life as an artist and my business didn't come together until now.
A creative lightbulb went off a couple of months ago and I thought, what if I did a pop up shop with pieces I collected and some of my art mixed in? I envisioned having colorful things like coffee tables, lamps, dish towels, vases, art, earrings, greeting cards...all set up in a beautiful way. People would come and wander around, chat, connect and take something home with them to add into their own lives. They could have the experience of treasure hunting and reusing without the chaos of sifting through so much stuff. I would curate the experience for them with my style and aesthetic. I shared the idea with Kelly, my wife, and a few close friends and they loved it. Then I let it simmer for a couple of weeks and got stuck on what the right space would be for it to happen in. I thought of the places I've sold my art before but farmers markets and craft fairs didn't feel quite right. Someone's house? We have too many pets to host here and it would be confusing to make it obvious what was for sale and what wasn't. Then Kelly went to the Mall of Saint Paul to buy a desk for her office. Kelly being the big thinker and extrovert that she is, chatted with the owner while she was there about how it works to sell things, if someone can sell their own art and if they had any spaces open. He said there was one space available downstairs and I could sell my art, things I collect and basically whatever I want. Kelly came home and told me about it and it felt like puzzle pieces sliding together in such an unexpected way and we both said, "uh, this is actually really perfect!" We went back over so I could meet Bill, the owner and see the space and I decided to trust my gut and go for it. I put my name down on the spot and go for it.
There is no grand plan for this and no road map really since I haven't seen my version of this done before. I have no marketing strategy, none of that. I'm flying by the seat of my pants, trusting my instincts and learning as I go. The thing is, it feels so right and it's REALLY FUN. It feels like so many parts of who I am and what I love coming together in a new way. Now, it's not without a cocktail of hard feelings as I do this-fears that it won't be good enough, that I won't do it "right", that I will spend too much money thrifting and not sell the stuff, that it won't be perfect...but I'm trying to feel those feelings as they come up and not let them stop me from doing something I really want to do. I'm also trying to embrace it as an opportunity to practice not being so fucking hard on myself all the time and that there is no perfect in anything and that's a dumb thing to aspire to anyway because it takes all the fun out of it.
So, here are the details if you want to come and visit! The Mall of Saint Paul is located at 1817 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55104 on the corner of Selby Avenue and Fairview Avenue next door to the Blue Door Pub. My little shop is downstairs and is open whenever the mall is open which is Tuesday-Sunday 11am-7pm. There are tons of things to look at throughout the entire place, so be prepared to wander and explore! I won't be there regularly except to stock my shop and work a shift here and there, the staff runs the show and manages all of the sales for everyone.
If you visit, I would love to hear what you think! If you find a treasure, you can take a photo of it and share it on Instagram if you into that kind of thing. Tag me @emmafreeman so I can see what you found!
(And this is my newest attempt at reviving my blog. We'll see what happens but I may start to share more here about my work and my life.)