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Friday, December 3, 2021

Shop ‘Til You Drop! Denton is home to a number of Etsy artisans offering unique local gifts for the holidays.

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If you’re looking to shop local this holiday season, we have great news — there are quite a number of Etsy sellers right here from Denton making unique, one-of-a-kind items perfect for gift giving.

If you aren’t familiar with Etsy yet, it is an online marketplace filled with artisans from around the world. From jewelry to home goods to bath and body products, you can truly find just about anything you’re looking for.

Here’s a look at five Etsy sellers living and working right here in Denton to help you shop local this holiday season.

Savannah Kurka

Owner of Savvie Studio

Savannah Kurka - Owner of Savvie Studio
Savannah Kurka – Owner of Savvie Studio

A resident of Denton for the past 11 years, Savannah Kurka opened the Etsy store for her business, Savvie Studio, in 2013. A graduate of the UNT with a BSA in visual arts studies, Kurka found she was able to merge her love of working with wood with digital fabrication methods like laser cutting she learned in school. “I loved the tactile warmth of wood, I loved designing on the computer — when I discovered that possibility it just clicked in my brain right away that this is something I really want to pursue,” she explains.

Kurka focuses on designing and handmaking modern plant hangers and nature-inspired home decor made from sustainably-sourced birchwood. Kurka hand-draws each design — all the pieces are cut out on a laser cutter and hand-assembled at her home in Denton.

Many of Kurka’s designs incorporate air plants, including plant hangers, plant stands, and plant wall art. In fact, one of her shop’s all-time bestsellers is a circle-design mini plant hanger made from dark-colored wood. Kurka says these plant-including designs make a great gift for plant lovers. “I like air plants because they’re really easy to care for so if you don’t necessarily have a green thumb, I feel like they’re still a good fit,” she adds.

In addition to her plant decor, Kurka recently added sun catchers to her Etsy store, which she already expects will be popular for the holidays. And she also makes keychains and other small items from excess wood leftover from larger pieces.

In addition to selling her items on Etsy, Kurka also sells through The DIME Store in downtown Denton. She says shopping locally for the holidays not only allows your dollars to be reinvested into your community but also gives your gifts a unique story. “Just having that real human connection element to our purchases and our gifts I feel is extra thoughtful to me,” she adds.

Shawna Smyth

Owner of Shawna Smyth Studio

Shawna Smyth - Owner of Shawna Smyth Studio
Shawna Smyth – Owner of Shawna Smyth Studio

Another local Etsy seller with a connection to The DIME Store is Shawna Smyth, owner of Shawna Smyth Studio. A resident of Denton since 2010 and a graduate of UNT with a BA in interdisciplinary arts and design studies, Smyth says she got the idea for her Etsy store when the owner of The DIME Store saw talent in her illustrations and suggested she try designing greeting cards, which was a product they needed at the time.

“So that’s when I went home and drew six designs and opened an Etsy shop with those six greeting cards,” Smyth recalls. “That was the start of it.”

Since launching her Etsy store in 2014 with those six greeting card designs, Smyth has since expanded her shop’s product line-up to also include stickers, enamel pins, and prints. All of her products feature designs of her own creation, digitally created through her iPad in her home studio.

Smyth says much of the inspiration for designs — which range from enamel pins saying “Neato Burrito” and giving a “Seal of Approval” — stem from her childhood. And the “puniness” of her greeting cards comes from her father who was a “really puny person, so it’s like a second language to me.”

Now with a successful Etsy store, Smyth hopes to continue to expand her business. She also enjoys helping other local Denton artisans with her role as an inventory manager at The DIME Store. “I love it so much — it’s really fulfilling,” she adds.

With so many ties to the local Denton artisans community, Smyth says it is important to shop local for the holidays as the money invested will stay in our community. “Everyone that I know through the DIME Store is very community focused — they shop at the community market and they like to hang out at the restaurants and bars here and support the community,” she says. “It just makes sense — if you spend your dollars with us, your dollars stay in your community and help build it.”

Adeline Nichols

Owner of AdieKayeDesigns

Adeline Kaye - Owner of AdieKayeDesigns
Adeline Kaye – Owner of AdieKayeDesigns

A newer addition to Etsy, Adeline Nichols grew up mainly in Denton and moved back to the area two years ago. About a year ago, she opened her Etsy shop, AdieKayeDesigns, to sell her jewelry made from stoneware clay. “Clay jewelry is really popular right now using the polymer clay, but mine is a little bit different because I still use the stoneware type of clay, which is going to be the same medium used for potters doing plates and bowls,” she explains.

Nichols focuses on earrings and necklaces made through a multi-step process that includes kiln firing and the application of glazes to give her pieces unique color combinations. She currently works in a shared studio space here in Denton to create her jewelry.

Nichols’ jewelry designs have an organic quality that comes from her love of nature. “I love just spending time outside and I’m really passionate about hiking and being outside, so my main inspiration is definitely the outdoors,” she explains.

For this holiday season, Nichols expects her stud earrings to continue to be bestsellers, and she plans to stock her store with more holiday-inspired colors for her jewelry. She also plans to introduce some beadwork to her designs as well.

As someone who grew up in a family with a small local business, Nichols understands the importance of shopping local. “It’s just so awesome to see the community come together in that way, just to support one another,” she explains.

April Austin

Owner of Bead Brilliant

April Austin - Owner of Bead Brilliant
April Austin – Owner of Bead Brilliant

Another Denton jewelry maker on Etsy is April Austin, owner of Bead Brilliant. With more than 1,400 “favorites” and almost 11,500 sales on Etsy, Austin’s online shop has become quite popular since its launch in 2014.

A resident of Denton for 10 years, Austin began creating jewelry as a fun and relaxing hobby. “I was enjoying it so much I just eventually got to the point where I started thinking about the possibilities with it — this is a creative outlet that I really enjoy doing,” she says.

Austin’s jewelry passion is charms, so she made that the focus of her Etsy store. Austin designs necklaces, bracelets, and keychains with various charms. She builds the different jewelry elements together at her home in Denton. Some of her bestsellers right now include a cow charm necklace — “People really like cows!” — and a dragon charm necklace.

In addition to the items she has listed in her Etsy store, Austin also accepts custom orders and offers customization items such as birthstone charms that can be added to her jewelry.

With her obvious success so far, Austin plans to expand her Etsy store even further. She recently added about 100 new items to her shop. She also plans to expand a new product for her shop — glass globe jewelry, which are round glass charms filled with “confetti” in shapes like hearts and stars. “If you’re wearing a necklace that has the confetti inside, it will sparkle and change color, so it’s really pretty,” Austin explains.

And when it comes to shopping local, although Austin receives orders from all around the world, “it’s really awesome if we are able to support businesses within our own communities.”

Kristi Taylor

Owner of Keen Bee Studio

Kristi Taylor - Owner of Keen Bee Studio
Kristi Taylor – Owner of Keen Bee Studio

“Apparel for modern librarians, teachers, and humans” is the theme for Keen Bee Studio — the Etsy store of Kristi Taylor, who has lived in Denton since 2007.

A full-time librarian for the past eight years, Taylor currently works as a high school librarian in Lewisville ISD while also making designs for the t-shirts she sells through her Etsy store. Taylor says she started designing shirts for herself because she could not find the types of librarian-inspired t-shirts she wanted to wear. “All the teacher librarian shirts I could find were for elementary librarians and they were all cute and pink and I didn’t want that,” she explains.

After designing her very first shirt, Taylor says a librarian friend posted a photo of it on social media — the resulting interest and sales urged her to open her Etsy shop in 2015. Since then, Taylor’s store has racked up almost 28,700 sales.

Taylor creates her shirt designs on the computer through Adobe Illustrator. They are then direct-to-garment printed using eco-friendly inks. She says this process allows the shirts to last for years if washed following the care instructions on the tag.

Of the about 250 shirt designs currently on her Etsy store, for the holidays, Taylor believes her “Reading With my Gnomies” shirt will continue to be very popular, as will her new design of a Christmas tree made from books. She is also happy to “make custom shirts from scratch” for those who have an idea they’d like to see on a shirt.

When it comes to shopping in the Denton community, Taylor says it allows shoppers to buy something unique they couldn’t buy just anywhere and it makes it personal. “It’s about supporting people who live in your neighborhood and also knowing there’s a person behind the business,” she adds.

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