Dominique Martinez-Powell | @dmartinez_powell.photography
For more than 30 years, the Craft Shop has been hosting holiday craft sales of products contributed to by local artists and craftsmen, to allow the community, students and staff to have access to these businesses.
The Craft Shop is taking applicants for this year’s Valentine’s Day Craft Sale until Feb.11th.
This year’s Valentine’s Day Craft Sale will be on Feb.14 at Southern Illinois University (SIU) Art Gallery, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s on the first floor of the SIU Student Center near the escalator. It is free to attend and open to the public.
This year new artists decided to take part in this Valentine’s Day Craft sale, as there wasn’t one last year. The shop decided to bring the sale back to help people find unique gifts for their loved ones.
Stephanie Dukat, coordinator of the Craft Shop and organizer of the sale, said this is the third one she’s been in charge of, but has been attending since 2013.
“It is an important event in our community to host craft sales, to give people the opportunity to showcase their work at SIU,” Dukat said. “Without it, I don’t think we would have as much access on campus to handmade and locally made goods.”
Dukat is also an SIU Alumna of the Master’s Program in Ceramics and said the shop will be selling some of the crafts students made in their downtime.
“When we are preparing for a class, we’ll make some examples, or if we have downtime, we’ll make items to sell at different craft sales,” Dukat said.
She also had a message for artists, saying their crafts don’t necessarily have to exemplify love.
“They can have more of, like, a unique gift or have a unique item.” Dukat said.
Arionne Smith, a recent SIU alumna with her B.A. in Fashion Design and Merchandising and owner of Custom Dreams, said it is her first time participating in the sale, but not her first time attending.
Custom Dreams is a home spa experience, where Smith makes organic products to help relax at home and she also personalizes unisex loungewear. She has her own YouTube account where she takes people through her entrepreneurial experience behind the scenes creating a small business in a small town.
“I sell body butter, candles, bath soaps, and personalize onesies for women and sweatpants and t-shirts for men,” Smith said, “My website is ShopCustomDreams.com and my YouTube is Custom Dreams.”
Smith said her products help with stress and stress-related illness. She offers specific products that she said help with anxiety and depression and even offers a ‘Women’s Health Bath’ designed to help women with cramps.
“For Valentine’s Day, I am very excited. My brand has a lot of aphrodisiac ingredients in it. It’ll be great for couples,” Smith said. “I am going to be bringing organic shower steamers, they’re like a little pod that has essential oils and little ingredients to help with headache relief and sinus relief.”
Smith is looking forward to the sale to increase the exposure of her business and meet with customers one on one to help accommodate their specific needs.
“I’m going to be helping the community, a lot of people are in high-stress environments right now. It will help build more awareness in the area,” she said.
Smith won’t be the only vendor selling handmade candles. 618 Candle Company is participating again this year.
Meghan Buehner and her husband own The Printing Plant here in Carbondale, where they have a gift shop in the front of the store known as 618 Candle Co.
“One of the products we decided to start at the beginning of Covid was a candle company. I spend my days making products and making candles, and seeking wholesale accounts,” Buehner said.
Since the expansion of the gift shop, 618 Candle Co. created a full line up for the Valentine’s Day sale.
“We’ll be bringing special Valentine’s Day gift baskets,” she said. “We will also have local products that we carry in our gift shop, locally made seasonings and barbecue sauces, locally made root beer, and coffee. Also, we are licensed to sell SIU merchandise: farmhouse Saluki signs, luggage tags, and picture frames featuring the Saluki logo.”
These craft sales help local businesses venture out and find new customer bases.
“We built you know, numerous relationships with new customers and worked alongside other businesses, it’s been absolutely invaluable to get the exposure from the craft shows.” Dukat said.
Since the show is organized locally, the vendors do a lot of collaborating with one another to help with growth.
“Exposure is the best thing that comes with the shows, and recurring customers. Just getting our name out there and building relationships with other businesses, and keep encouraging us to shop local and support each other,” Buehner said.
Self-employed southern Illinois local Jessica Lynn, who administers a local grassroots nonprofit, is a farmer and an herbal medicine maker who will have items for sale.
Her company, Restorative Roots Herbs, accompanied by three others, Bridget Ryan, Adriane Koontz and Ellen Esling, make seed to bottle small medicinal batches of herbal products they grow on their individual farms.
“Herbal tinctures, fire cider, herbal teas, several types of herbal salves, a facial serum, clay herbal facial masks, and incense herbs,” are what to be expecting at the sale this year, Lynn said.
“My herbal remedies are all about caring for ourselves, each other, and the earth,” she said.
Lynn said outreach will be the most positive attribute she looks forward to gaining this year.
There is still room for more vendors and come showcase their work, and meet other local artists, craftsmen and business owners.
People looking for a gift for a loved one, or even for themselves, can stop by the Art Gallery on Feb.14.
For more information, visit the Craft Shops website https://studentcenter.siu.edu/activities/craft-shop/craft-sales.php.
Staff reporter Kamaria Harmon can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @QuoteKamariaa. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.