With the advent of Etsy, there's never been a better time for creative people to follow their passions and turn them into a cottage industry.
Now Houston's crafty entrepreneurs have a place to sell their creations locally. Roundtable Goods opens on Saturday on 19th Street in the Heights, combining the wares of local artisans in jewelry, art prints, clothing, perfumes, soaps and other home goods.
Roundtable is the brainchild of Juanita Baker, who sews modern-vintage fashions under the name Festive Nest Designs. A veteran of craft shows, Baker says she got tired of the travel and the steady encroachment of wholesale goods into what was formerly an exclusive market for artisans.
"The last time I was at a craft show, I was across the aisle from someone selling discount sheets. People look at that and think, why would I buy your $40 aprons? They don't even look your way." says Baker. "I thought that it was time to just step out there."
"People are saying 'Don't go to Walmart, don't shop international, keep the money here.' Okay, if you don't want me to go there, where do you want me to go? This is a shop for people who are interested in buying local."
Looking for a better alternative for independent crafters to find like-minded consumers, Baker founded Roundtable and describes herself as a curator who has assembled 13 other small, complementary businesses to share the space, with each member contributing to the running of the shop and designing their own display.
Roundtable opens for the first time on Saturday, with a grand opening on Aug. 4 during White Linen Night. Baker plans to keep weekend hours through the summer and expand to four days a week by the fall, offering sewing classes on weekdays.
Roundtable is using its multi-faceted talents to offer specialized services, including some event planning and a handcrafted gifts and florist delivery service.
"Let's say there's a housewarming party and you can't make it but you want to send a gift," says Baker. "You can come in and pick something out or call us and order something custom and we pack it all together in a basket and add some flowers and deliver it."
Venders at Roundtable include quilted creations from Gotcha Covered Quilts, Gami Works' chiyogami-based jewelry, natural skin care products by Cassia Aromatics, quirky-cute digital art prints by Breeding Fancy, chic cat accessories (really!) from The Cat Farm, gluten-free cupcakes from BakeCake and much more.
While these goods are local and often custom, that doesn't mean they come with precious price tags.
"We're really looking to stay at a price point around $20 for gifts," says Baker. "People are saying, you know, 'Don't go to Walmart, don't shop international, keep the money here.' It's like, okay, if you don't want me to go there, where do you want me to go? This is a shop for people who are interested in buying local and who want something special."
Roundtable Goods is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Sundays from 12 - 6 p.m.