If you’ve ever browsed the indie goods at Shop Made in DC, you know it’s a go-to for lovely things crafted by local talents: The candles! The clothes! The cool stuff you just have to have! Now, two store locations are on their way to Virginia and will peddle products from our own talented makers.
“Opening up in Virginia was a no-brainer for us,” says Shop Made founder and CEO Stacey Price, who plans to debut stores in Alexandria and Richmond this summer, adding to the five retail spaces and incubators she and business partner Michael Babin operate in DC. She and Babin launched Shop Made’s first location in Dupont Circle in 2017 with a seed grant. Today, it has stores in Georgetown, The Wharf—popular among NoVA residents due to its proximity—the Canopy hotel in Logan Circle, and The Roost. But where the District stores carry products made within a 5-mile radius of the city, the Virginia iterations will only house products crafted by entrepreneurs in the commonwealth.
“Virginia is so big,” says the Adams Morgan resident, “and there’s so much talent.” She and Babin are planning to go heavy on NoVA and Richmond-area makers, with items from folks in Virginia Beach to points north represented. At the Alexandria store, more NoVA lines will be available (though that doesn’t mean you can’t pop in to find a new piece from a Richmond brand), and vice versa. As in the DC boutiques, you’ll find apparel, paper products, original art, and various things you’ll realize you can’t live without.
It’s all part of Price’s longtime goal to build up the people behind the product. Born in industrial hub Martinsville to parents who worked in manufacturing, Price attended Radford University and earned her master’s degree in corporate and professional communications. After college, she managed a workforce-development grant at Virginia Economic Bridge. It took her into southwestern towns filled with small businesses that lacked the crucial dollars to boost their brands. “I remember telling my director that I want to start a nonprofit to take away these barriers for local small businesses, and he laughed at me,” says Price.
The experience was one of the building blocks of her business model today. “That’s been a big part of how we proceeded—not only connecting people to the product, but also changing the consumer mindset by showing how things are actually made,” says Price. “And that’s the value.”
The idea for the Virginia iteration was born before COVID hit, though the pandemic changed their approach to opening. It began in December as an online shop. While the digital arm has been a benefit, Price and her team (including Virginia-focused program manager Rachel Rader) can’t wait to get the storefronts open. “I’m such an in-real-life person,” she says. “Our shops have been such a wonderful showcase. Walking into the store and seeing that all these people are your neighbors is pretty amazing.”
When the NoVA store debuts, expect to see earrings from Fredericksburg’s Cindy Liebel Jewelry and aromatherapy bath salts from Alexandria-based Nourish & Refine, among other temptations. There will also be a focus on BIPOC-owned businesses. “That is where the nation should be, and that is who we are,”says Price. “We’re humans who believe in social justice. Making sure we have a place for minority businesses and people of color and having a variety of makers is always important to us.” She and her team are constantly adding the work of new entrepreneurs to their shelves, classes, and workshops, and currently have an open registration for Virginia businesses. “We’re pretty obsessed with finding new talent.” // shopmadeinva.com