Cornucopia of Craft: a garage-turned-boutique in Asheville, NC showcases handcrafted items from around the world
Freshstyle Magazine, Mar.-April 2014
Stepping into Garage 34 in downtown Asheville means accessing a veritable world of handmade goods. There are baby shoes from Uganda, scarves and purses from India, bracelets from Burma, and even pet toys from Nepal. While most clothing labels chart a path back to Asia and other global locales, sales at Garage 34 put money back into artisans’ hands.
Those items from India, for instance, offer prostituted women an alternative for supporting themselves. The baby shoes come from the Asheville-based nonprofit Sole Hope, which partners with Eastern Ugandans, training adults in both places to make shoes using colorful fabrics fortified by bike tire inner tubes. The pet toys come from A Cheerful Pet, which employs Nepalese women to fashion their unique designs. Fashion Compassion, a nonprofit based out of Charlotte, NC, helps women get out of the sex trade by training them in jewelry making. These are just a few of the people and places behind the product lines at Garage 34.
For owner Kendra Foskey, who opened Garage 34 three years ago, the shop not only supports nonprofits and local artisans, but also brings the itinerant world of the festival marketplace into a single locale. Foskey grew up attending festivals with her artist mother and now sells her own handmade items that include scarves, wedding dresses, and other handicrafts at Garage 34. Now Foskey’s own three children can be found helping out in the store from time to time. “Really my story is probably an extension of my mom and me, and our story as a family,” she says.
Adding to the eclectic flair of Garage 34, the shop offers classes in association with Asheville’s Elevate Life and Art program. They host dance apprenticeships, tutoring, and classes in graphic design, knitting, and sewing.
“To me it builds community,” says Foskey of the expansive network of skilled craftspeople and creatives who share their work and expertise at the shop.