Arhaus: Old World Feel with a Modern Twist

June 27, 2010 at 4:50 pm (Shop Local)

“What transforms four walls into a space for inspired living? This question was the original impetus behind the home lifestyle brand Arhaus in 1986. Fast-forward 22 years to the answer: outstanding design quality. Despite [its]  massive size, Arhaus feels homey with a large selection of inviting home furnishing staples such as long tables, soft sofas, inviting bedroom sets and cozy home libraries. Arhaus, however, excels in its delightful accessories; timeless vases, candelabras, chandeliers and our favorite, the recycled collection: hand-designed pieces created from recycled materials that give an old-world feel with a modern twist. ” [Factio Magazine]

In 2004, Lapidary Journal said, “For jewelry designer Lauren Van Hemert of Raleigh, North Carolina, part of moving forward is carrying the past with you, preserving elusive memories and reinventing antique artifacts for a modern age.” [Lapidary Journal, October 2004)

Last week, I entered into a business relationship with Arhaus Furniture, in which the company will carry The Ephemera Collection in two of its stores. And who better to sell my “antique artifacts for a modern age” than a company whose products have been described as “old world feel with a modern twist.”

With 34 stores in the U.S. and an online boutique, Arhaus  has earned quite a reputation because of its exclusive line of handmade products and the unique presentation of these goods in a setting that has been described as unlike any other in the industry.

“We really make our stores look incredibly dramatic where it is a real shopping experience to go through our stores,” says Arhaus chairman and CEO John Reed. Touches such as hand-painted murals on the walls, old-fashioned tin ceilings and mosaic inlays set the stage for Arhaus’ version of retail theater. “Our vision is to have the most exciting home furnishings store in the country,” says Reed. [Retail Magazine, July 1, 2004]

Arhaus will carry The Ephemera Collection in its Tysons Corner Center store in McLean, Virginia, as well as its flagship store at Legacy Village in Cleveland. The stores will sell an assortment of earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, including customized monogrammed bracelets.

Luggage Label Monogrammed Bracelet


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Shop Local: The Scrap Exchange

June 20, 2010 at 3:55 pm (The Road Less Traveled)

I am often asked, “where do you get your objects?” I get many of my found objects from flea markets, auctions, and friends. Some of my most recent acquisitions, however, came from The Scrap Exchange, a creative reuse store in Durham.

According to The Scrap Exchange website, its mission is to promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse. Since 1991, The Scrap Exchange has been collecting industrial discards and distributing these reclaimed materials through its retail store, community events, parties and workshops.

Patterned after The Reverse Garbage Truck, located in Australia, The Scrap Exchange is one of about 40 creative reuse organizations in the United States.

Materials can be purchased by the piece, by the bag, or online. Mixed bags filled with as much as you can stuff inside sell for $3.50 for a mini bag to up to $15.00 for a large bag. Last time I was there, I filled up a mini bag with game pieces, bottle tops, fabric scraps, bobbins, empty film canisters, computer keys, and plastic tubing.

“To make saleable products from reused items, people have to be very clever, because they need to be able to repeat or manufacture the item,” says Mary-Jean Newton, the co-founder of MAD (Making a Difference), an offshoot of Reverse Garbage. “If it has a function, people who normally wouldn’t buy art or design have another reason to buy it. And if it’s helping the environment, people will remember how important their consumer choices are.” [The Sydney Morning Herald]

In this video, The Scrap Exchange Executive Director Ann Woodward discusses the importance of creative reuse in our community.

The Scrap Exchange is open seven days a week and is located at 548 Foster Street in Durham, NC. For more information call (919) 688-6960. See you there!

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It Is By Teaching That We Teach Ourselves

June 13, 2010 at 6:07 pm (Artist Musings)

Last week, I mused about the apprentice/mentor relationship and two artists I had the privilege to mentor, Cynthia Luhrs and Kimberly Hodes. While I was happy to help both Cynthia and Kimberly by giving them advice and feedback on how to start their craft businesses, neither one of them ever worked with me in the studio.  However, one other young artist did.

Garden Scape Ring by Jessica Papke

In 2004, I met NC State Design student Jessica Papke, also known as Rosy Revolver. Jessica purchased a bracelet from me at Cary’s Ole Time Winter Festival and later contacted me to see if I would meet her for coffee. What started over coffee, ended up being a two year apprenticeship, in which Jessica not only helped me in the studio, but also accompanied me to shows, including the American Craft Council Baltimore Fine Craft Show.

JJ Papke, Valediction Earrings

Today Jessica runs a successful jewelry business, mostly selling her wares to an international audience on Etsy and branding the Rosy Revolver name. She is in the process of building a studio space in Fuquay-Varina, which she calls “heaven on the top floor of an old bank on Main Street.”

Jessica says that working in the studio with me was a dose of inspiration. “I think it was mostly just about learning to pay attention to detail, focus on quality, and constantly striving to expand and improve upon skills,” she says.

“Some of the best advice Lauren ever gave me was to toughen up,  stand by my ideas and not care so much about what others may think,” she adds.

There is no question about how the apprentice/mentor relationship benefits the apprentice. But there are few words to describe how much of a positive impact that relationship has on the mentor.

According to, “Mentors have the potential to not only pass on their skills but to give those who could never have the time or the money or the know-how, the ability to invest in their passion. They can ensure that crafts stay alive and vibrant for future generations.”

In my case, teaching Jessica, Cynthia, and Kimberly enabled me to take a fresh look at my own business model, re-evaluate what was working and not working, and re-invest myself in my work.

I think Swiss Philosopher Henri Frederic Amiel said it best.

“It is by teaching that we teach ourselves, by relating that we observe, by affirming that we examine, by showing that we look, by writing that we think, by pumping that we draw water into the well.”  Henri Frederic Amiel

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We Are All Apprentices in a Craft Where No One Ever Becomes a Master

June 6, 2010 at 11:40 pm (Artist Musings)

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Ernest Hemingway

In 2003, I met polymer clay artist, teacher, and author Irene Semanchuk Dean. I brought her to Raleigh to teach a workshop for The Capital Area Polymer Clay Guild, which I helped establish. Irene became my friend and mentor, and I credit her for encouraging me to sell my work and helping me become a professional artist. Irene spent a lot of time giving me the advice and tools necessary to start my business. I knew then that the best way to pay her back was to pay it forward.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to help several other designers start their own businesses. Most of them sought me out and asked for help or advice. Many of them have since become my friends. 

"Letters" by Cynthia Luhrs

“Lauren’s advice and experience helped me from making newbie mistakes so I was able to focus more on growing my work,” says Cynthia Luhrs. “Having someone to bounce ideas off and provide feedback was also invaluable to helping me grow my career.”

Artist Kimberly Hodes says that one of the most valuable pieces of advice I gave her was, “decide what you are going to do and do it better than anyone else.”  She adds, “Success does not come without hard work. Once it comes, there is no resting on your laurels, it’s a continuous and ongoing struggle to keep your name and work in the public eye.”

Kimberly Hodes Designs

Both Cynthia and Kimberly say that I helped them, just as Irene had helped me, by giving them the tools necessary to properly price their work.

“Just starting out, I was much too low and Lauren really helped me out there,” says Cynthia.

“Price everything so that if someone approaches you about wholesale, you are ready,” adds Kim. “Don’t undersell yourself!”

Now Polymer Clay Artist Celie Fago and her apprentice Jennifer Kahn have made it easier for potential apprentices and mentors to connect by creating

“There’s a generation of established, successful, working crafts people who are trying to grow their businesses, to change with a changing world. There’s also a younger generation, brimming with potential, with native web skills, who are also seeking sustainability in a changing world, and a way to make a living from their hands but lacking the skills to do so. So it seems there should be a place where these folks can connect. Where symbiotic relationships can be formed. This is that place.” []

I know first hand the benefits of being both the student and the mentor and applaud Celie  and Kahn for creating an online “meeting place” for mentors and apprentices to find each other.

Both Cynthia and Kimberly say I taught them to push themselves to be better artists, and I have to say they both have done the same for me.

“I learned to trust my instincts in my work and continually push myself to better,” says Cynthia.

“Keep evolving, if you don’t change and grow, your customers will get bored and move on,” says Kimberly.

Lesson learned. Mission accomplished.

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