Uniquely New England: The Village Studio showcases local artisans
The Village Studio is a veteran- and women-owned business in North Andover, MA. Below, the team shares some details on their business and the importance of supporting local.
Describe your business in 50 words or less.
The Village Studio is the only handmade-only gift shop in North Andover, MA, representing more than 140 artisans from throughout the six New England states. We are also a sewing/design studio where the owners give sewing lessons and collaborate with customers to curate unique items from home décor to keepsakes.
What makes your business unique?
Our commitment to supporting solely locally handmade artisans and our respective backgrounds in the handmade space are what separate The Village Studio from other gift shops in the area.
While other shops in and around North Andover sell both handmade and commercially made items, The Village Studio is focused 100% on handmade products from New England artisans. Several of our artisans reside right in North Andover, in fact, and every product we offer is hand-picked to ensure a unique and wide variety of options for our customers. Our commitment to these criteria can sometimes put us at a disadvantage compared to shops that offer commercially made products; however, we are extremely proud to represent our local fellow makers and remain steadfast in our commitment to them.
The three owners of The Village Studio all have deep roots in the handmade space. Johanna Myers began sewing at the age of 5 and has made everything from doll clothes, to wedding gowns to windows treatments and everything in between. Customers are known to come up with some very unique ideas, but Jo rarely backs down from a good challenge. She also enjoys repairing vintage sewing machines and is passionate about teaching sewing to adults, teens, and kids as young as 7. The word has gotten out around town, so Jo is rarely without a wait list of students.
Sally Finnimore owned and operated her own small business called Tray Chic where she crafted upcycled home décor. In 2017, Sally partnered with the North Andover Farmer’s Market and spearheaded the town’s first artisan market dedicated to showcasing the wares of artisans from all around New England. The market was very successful and grew from 50 to over 100 artisans in years 2 and 3. Sally’s ultimate dream was to open a year-round handmade shop and 4 years later her dream became reality.
Melissa Mack inherited her love of quilting and crafting from her mother and grandmother. In 2010 she started MomCat Quilts with her mom and aunt so they could spend time together doing something they all enjoyed. As Melissa’s interests broadened, MomCat Quilts expanded to MomCat Handmade. MomCat has been attending craft fairs and artisan markets for 12 years while also selling their items in various shops in Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire. When the opportunity arose to combine her passion of making with her interest in operating a formal business (in the town where she grew up!), Melissa jumped at the chance.
What does your business look like?
In addition to the handmade store, The Village Studio offers custom keepsakes including t-shirt/memory quilts, baby quilts, and memory bears. We also make a wide variety of soft home furnishings including draperies, cushions, pillows and more. Every project is unique, and we meet individually with each client to talk through the project, go over fabric choices, and review the budget. All projects are done by the owners themselves to ensure that our stringent quality standards are consistently met.
Teaching is another arm of The Village Studio which makes us different from other shops. While we do host one-night “DIY” workshops, The Village Studio also offers one on one and small group lessons teaching topics that we consider ourselves highly skilled in. Our most popular offering is Sewing with Jo, where Jo teaches students individually how to sew over the course of 5 classes. Whether they are complete beginners or just want to advance their skills, Jo caters her syllabus to each student and meets them where they are at. We have also introduced a Beginner’s Cricut class where, over 2 classes, Melissa teaches students how to use the Design Space software and how to create many of the projects that are popular amongst crafter’s today.
The Village Studio is a brick-and-mortar shop located in the Machine Shop Village neighborhood in the town of North Andover, Ma. Some items are available for purchase online, but we encourage our customers to visit our store located inside an old mill and explore our downtown area including several amazing cafés and restaurants.
Why is it important to support businesses like yours?
When you buy locally handmade goods, you are supporting your neighbors, friends, and family and contributing to a thriving community that offers both entertainment and opportunity. Buying local quite literally breathes life into your town, ultimately encouraging more diversity, more business, and more culture. It’s a cycle that feeds itself and we are so honored to be a small part of it.
Do you want to say anything to your customers or guests?
Our customers are our lifeline. We are happy to do the legwork to bring together a truly diverse set of offerings from talented artisans throughout New England, but we rely on the community to support us so that we can continue to support our artisans. We appreciate and encourage our customers’ input and ideas and we look so forward to meeting you at The Village Studio.
How has your business changed or adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The Village Studio opened in June of 2021, just as the region was beginning to re-open. All precautions are taken to ensure a safe environment for ourselves, our customers and our students. Masks are neither encouraged nor discouraged; please do as you see fit for your personal safety. For those who do not wish to come into the store at this time, we encourage you to follow us on social media where we consistently showcase items we have available for purchase. If you see something you like, message us and we are happy to invoice you for it and offer curbside pick-up.