ST. MARYS - For years, St. Marys resident Nichole Lowther traveled the craft show circuit selling her creations, including her signature Pillow Powls, a stuffed owl she originally created for her young son's bedroom.
The stuffed owls were a hit and many people asked Lowther if she would make one for them.
However, her dreams were a little larger than the oversized owls. She dreamed of opening her own gift shop where she could sell her own crafts, and those of other talented artisans.
Michelle Gordon, Nicole Lowther’s mother, models an apron made by Joyce Maston, her mother and Lowther’s grandmother. Gordon is holding a basket made by Umurisa of the Abibumbye “People Who Are Together” Association in Rwanda. Each basket has the name and co-op that the artisan represents.
The candles were made at the Potting Shed Candle Co. in St. Marys.
That dream became reality when on March 7 she opened All Together Now, a store specializing in handmade gifts, decor, furniture, and other unique items.
Located at 909 Second St., in St. Marys, across from Wendy's on W.Va. 2, the store supports the Fair Trade nonprofit organization and the use of natural and recycled materials. Fair Trade helps people in developing countries build sustainable businesses to improve their lives.
"I always had different things I wanted to try and ideas to support a family," she said. "The timing on this (business) seemed right and we found a great location."
If You Go
* All Together Now is a gift shop in St. Marys specializing in handmade gifts, decor, furniture and other items.
* It is located on West Virginia 2 across from Wendy's.
* Hours are Monday 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and closed Sunday.
* Items included for sale are those that support Fair Trade, a nonprofit organization that helps people in developing countries build sustainable businesses that help improve their lives.
The house where All Together Now is located was for her a perfect building at a perfect location. It was a former gift shop that had only been closed for about a year. Having the shop located in a two-story house gave her a unique opportunity to present her items, she said.
There are seven rooms on two floors and each room has its own theme.
"I try to envision different themes," she said. "Each room has kind of a different feel."
Each room is decorated with items she believes enhances the vision she is attempting to create. Among the themes are the Living Room, the Kids Room, the Artists Room and the Country Room.
While many of the handmade items sold in the store are made by her or 10 members of her family-including her husband and her father who are talented woodworkers, her mother-in-law who does stained glass and her grandmother who makes aprons-other artisans' wares also are for sale.
"My entire family plays a role in the shop, including our two boys," she said. "That is another reason this worked out, I am able to take our 4-year old with me to work until he starts school in the fall. Our 8-year old comes over after school. My parents, grandparents and mother-inlaw are also eager to watch the kids or help anyway. Most of them have items in the shop as well."
Lowther is confident her shop will succeed.
After a good opening, April was slow, however, things have picked up in May and she is hoping the trend will continue into the summer months, in part because of the unique items being offered, such as the handmade basket collection from Rwanda.
Many of the items come from groups such as Azizi Life, a Christian nonprofit cooperative that gives Rwandan women the opportunity to sell the hand-woven baskets and other items they make. The money goes to the co-op and is paid to the women allowing them to help support themselves and their families and gives them the satisfaction of having their creations appreciated by others.
"Their stuff is so unique," Lowther said. "It's wild."
All of the items are listed on the store's website, alltogethernowhandmade.com.