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Denton business showcases local artists’ crafts, cards and collectibles

Denton business showcases local artists’ crafts, cards and collectibles

The DIME Store is located off the Denton Square and sells the work of over 40 local artists, crafters, makers and collectors. Sasha Calamaco

Denton business showcases local artists’ crafts, cards and collectibles
June 19
22:19 2017

When buying decorations from retail shops, most might not know the faces behind the art. However, at the DIME store gift shop, each trinket comes from local hands and friendly faces.

Located on S. Locust Street right off the Square, the Denton Independent Maker Exchange, or DIME, store is home to many local artists who passionately provide the community with handmade art and gifts.

From decorative succulents and eccentric jewelry to clever greeting cards and artsy posters of popular Denton stops, the gift shop prides itself in being a local-owned and operated business since its opening in 2013.

“I just really enjoy making things,” said Shawna Smyth, a card designer and UNT alumna. “Making art makes me feel like I’m really apart of the community. Even though I’m more of a homebody, I can still reach out and interact with people through my art.”

Smyth first began creating cards at 4 years old for holidays and family birthdays, and she instantly felt satisfaction from the silly humor.

“I still use terms now that I did when I was little,” Smyth said, laughing. “Like ‘neato burrito’ is still something I put on cards to this day. I would probably describe my humor as goofy and silly, like those ‘dad jokes.’”

Smyth began selling her cards to the shop in 2014. She then began to receive a consignment rate a year later when her cards took off.

“I was such an admirer of the store and I had to be a part of it somehow, someway,” Smyth said. “So when they told me to bring sample cards in, I ran to Jupiter House and sat for two hours to design about 10 cards, then ran them back to the store.”

As a local dedicated to supporting fellow makers, Smyth knows firsthand how supportive the DIME store is to creators and artists like herself.

While Denton provides galleries and music spaces for some artists to display their work, the DIME store allows other artists to showcase unique forms of art.

“It’s such a nurturing, safe place to start out and grow,” Smyth said. “Many of us are branching out and selling to places around the world, but we all started here. I’d say that 99 percent of us are local to Denton, [with] the other 1 percent being Austin.”

Art education graduate Savannah Kurka is another Denton resident maker who found her calling and used it to build her brand through the shop.

Makers who are a part of DIME’s co-op have their work displayed and available for purchase in the shop. Sasha Calamaco

“I took a digital fabrication class in college and completely fell in love with the process of laser cutting,” Kurka said. “I just remember thinking, ‘OK, I have to do this.’ So, I invested every penny into buying a laser cutter, sold all my furniture and turned my small college apartment bedroom into a studio.”

Specializing in plant accessories, wooden jewelry and laser cut prints, Kurka began working at the shop two years ago and has only continued to grow her personal brand, Savvie Studio.

Selling to over 40 online and in-person shops around the country, Kurka’s reach is because of Denton’s creative community.

“When I first came to UNT, my goal was to be a teacher because that was the only way I saw making money as an artist,” Kurka said. “I think that if I hadn’t met the community through the store and the handmade community at large, I probably wouldn’t have pursued my brand at all.”

Graduate student and regular shopper Adilah Zafor enjoys the shop for its local and personal aspect.

“I love the wall art they have because it’s from local artists,” Zafor said. “The art is always different and personal. My favorite piece of wall art is from there.”

Most makers try to buy local from the DIME store to support home-grown businesses and to fund Denton’s local business economy.

“It’s a really great way to connect to the community at large,” Kurka said. “It’s just so neat to be able to walk through my house and say ‘Oh, my friend Shawna made that print.’ Like, I’m going to purchase soaps and candles and things no matter what. I like that the things that beautify my home make for great stories to tell other people.”

At the DIME store, shoppers know that they are getting a genuinely indigenous experience and a unique, personal gift with every purchase while also benefiting a familiar face’s livelihood.

“I feel that community is such a key factor to living a really fulfilling life,” Kurka said. “It’s really nice to not always have to get out of my house to feel the community, but to know I’m still thinking about them by the items in my home. It creates a greater sense of purpose.”

Featured Image: The DIME Store is located off the Denton Square and sells the work of over 40 local artists, crafters, makers and collectors. Sasha Calamaco

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Kayla Henson

Kayla Henson

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