Unique Local Crafts Highlight The Valentine Museum Store

Visitors to The Valentine get a unique experience when stopping into the museum store — a glimpse of creative gifts and wares made by artists who call Richmond home.

“So many times when you travel somewhere, you can get a key chain, you can get a snow globe, you can get something that says the name of where you were, but it was made nowhere near where you’re visiting,” Caitlin Orrison, retail and visitor services manager for The Valentine told 8News Reporter Evanne Armour.

The Valentine seeks out unique items that have been made by locals in the community.

Britt Hayes, who started Cricket Cove Soap Co. in 2011 out of her Glen Allen home, now has a selection of her soaps featured in the new museum store.

She took a hobby and turned it into a thriving business.

“Being a mom and still having kids that need to be driven everywhere, it is important for me to be here,” Hayes said of her third-floor soaping studio.

Her handmade soaps, created with a focus on natural ingredients, are being sold online and in more than a dozen stores, including at The Valentine.

She even made a line of scents specifically for The Valentine. She pulled the inspiration from the Wickham House.

“As you walk into the Wickham House, there’s a mahogany bannister, a glorious mahogany bannister,” she said. “And on the bottom of it, they have hand-carved magnolia buds and blooms, so it was just logical that we were going to do a magnolia soap.”

Customers have placed orders on her Etsy shop from around the world. People in Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Italy are lathering up with her handcrafted creations.

“It’s just been fun and a little mind blowing that my product that I make here in my little tiny third floor is going all over the world,” she said.

But she says local support is just as crucial to make her business — and other local businesses — work.

“It’s so important to keep the money within our community, and I think Richmond has a very, very strong supportive base of that,” said Hayes.

Those browsing the aisles of The Valentine Museum Store will also see the art of Scherenschnitte, or German paper cutting, crafted by the hands of Janet Lynch.

Lynch has been creating the unique pieces of art for nearly three decades after seeing another woman snip away at a pattern at a craft show.

“I was just in awe and fell in love with the art and then went home and picked up a pair of scissors and started cutting,” Lynch said.

Some of her pieces, including Christmas trees, ornaments, and cuts of the state of Virginia, are for sale in the museum store. While Lynch does sell her work online and at her art gallery on River Road, she said that an outlet like The Valentine can make all the difference for a local artist.

“We’re getting our work out there,” she said. “Just going around doing small shows is okay, but when you get out in a big place, it just helps to put your name out there a little bit better.”

And the goal of the museum store is to give other local artisans the chance to showcase their work on the store shelves. Orrison says the store will never look the same.

“You get to see it change and evolve as we sort of dig deeper and discover more and more of the vast talent that’s out there,” she said.

Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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