With its dynamic collection of independently-owned boutiques, restaurants and cultural centers, Downcity offers a vibrant community of businesses intertwined with residential space. Smack in the heart of the neighborhood lies Craftland, an eclectic showcase of handmade goods ranging from jewelry and clothing to housewares and wall art. Co-owned by artist Margaret Carleton and jewelry designer Devienna Anggraini, Craftland celebrates handmade objects and the people who make them.
Like any good Rhode Island destination, Craftland wasn’t always located at their current 212 Westminster Street address. In 2002, at the beginning of the downtown revival, Craftland opened up as a holiday-only craft show featuring 25 artists. “We were a pop-up before pop-ups were popular,” says Devienna. Year after year, the roster of artisans grew, as did the local following. “It became a holiday tradition,” says Devienna. After seven successful years as a December-only shop, the owners took the leap and made Craftland a year-round storefront.
Today Craftland features about 100 artists from the USA and Canada, with roughly 60% hailing from Rhode Island and Massachusetts. “It’s a unique business model. We’re essentially a collective of small businesses,” Devienna explains. For some artists, Craftland is their first retail exposure. “We take on new artists all the time. It’s a giant step for some of them,” she says. As artists themselves, Margaret and Devienna know firsthand the challenges of selling at retail. In addition to featuring new artists, Craftland also offers workshops and classes to artists to help them with the business side of art. From social media tips to how to price items, Craftland provides support and guidance along the way.
A pioneer in the handmade scene in Providence, the colorful shop boasts upwards of 40 jewelry makers. “We have one of the largest collections of artisan jewelry in the state,” Devienna points out. Items that depict Providence and Rhode Island – jewelry, baby gifts, and art prints to name just a few – is another product line that Craftland is known for. “We get out-of-state visitors every day looking for unique souvenirs,” Devienna says, pointing out that the downtown shop is in walking distance of most hotels and universities. “People love that these items not only say Rhode Island, but are also made in Rhode Island.” Another thing to love about Craftland is that the entire store is tax-free. “It’s a 7% discount everyday!” Devienna says with a laugh.
On November 21, Craftland is debuting their very own line of products made exclusively by a handful of local artists. “We’re so excited about this line and the line-up of artists that are creating the items,” says Devienna. “It’s so rewarding to support local artists.”
As the holidays approach, Craftland is preparing for an extra special shopping experience. In December, the shop will grow to house wares by a staggering 150 artists. On December 4 at 5:30pm, the shop is hosting its annual holiday celebration. Customers get the opportunity to mingle with artists and learn about their mediums and methods. (The first 50 shoppers get a goodie bag, so be sure to get there early!) Each Thursday in December, the shop will donate a portion of its sales to local non-profits that support the arts and empower girls. A new website, with behind-the-scenes info about featured artists and an online shopping cart – will debut.
From encouraging new artists to making art approachable and affordable for customers, Craftland continues to be an innovative destination. Stop by in person or visit online for your very own handmade holiday season.
212 Westminster Street, Providence