Business Briefs: January 2024

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The Crozet Holiday Market is the brainchild of Flannery Buchanan and Chelsea Powers, co-owners of Bluebird & Company. Photo: Malcolm Andrews.

Expanded Holiday Market Draws Hundreds

Despite the cloudy skies and afternoon rain, hundreds of shoppers poured into downtown Crozet Dec. 9 for the Crozet Holiday Market. The market, designed to highlight the existing Crozet businesses as well as small businesses that set up temporary stations inside or nearby, attracted the curious and generous from all over the area. They left with bags full of local pastries, wine, whiskey, jewelry, books, clothing, and unique handmade items. The shoppers were satisfied, and so were the vendors: one local vendor took home more than $5,000 in just a few hours. 

Rachel Willis of Cakes by Rachel sold out immediately last year, but baked hundreds of extra cookies and cupcakes to be ready for this year’s event. “So much gratitude for the crew at Bluebird and all the vendors who participated,” Willis said. “Not only is it a wonderful event for our businesses, the market is a beautiful boost to our quality of life here in Crozet. It warms my heart how Chelsea and Flannery are working to bring our community together.”

Santa relaxes before his big day and greets shoppers at the Crozet Holiday Market. Photo: Theresa Curry

Chelsea Powers and Flannery Buchanan are the geniuses behind the market, and the owners of Bluebird & Company and several other Crozet businesses. Powers said she’d like to see more local businesses participate in some way, and they’ll work to promote that. Many businesses, including Starr Hill, Mud House, the Yellow Mug, Julie Ellyn Designs, RESET, Santosha and Piedmont Place, participated by providing a space for small vendors and saw the sales of their own products or the visibility of their businesses increase. 

There were benefits besides the sales, the vendors acknowledged: “This was our first time at the market as a vendor and what an incredible opportunity to chat with other small businesses and meet the faces behind them,” said Dannah Boston of the Esthetics Company. “Also, a beautiful time to be connected with the many wonderful members of the community of Crozet. So grateful for the masterminds that put this together and made it so enjoyable.” Boston, the owner, is a medical esthetician and will now offer esthetic services in Crozet four days a week at RESET. 

Dannah Boston of The Esthetics Company at the Crozet Holiday Market. Photo: Theresa Curry.

Those who toil away in solitude are happy to meet each other. “The market was such an exciting gathering of talented and creative makers,” said Gina Warner, founder of the Badass Women’s Book Club, a gathering designed to illuminate, connect, and support women. “It was so rewarding to see shoppers who value those contributions and want to support small and emerging businesses. Huge thanks to the Bluebird team for creating this welcoming space.”

Laura Grice of Cakes by Rachel dispenses cookies and cupcakes in the Bluebird & Company annex. Photo: Theresa Curry.

Dana Wheeles of Deerhawk Art Studio felt the same way about meeting fellow artists. “Thanks to the markets organized by the team at Bluebird & Co., I feel a real connection to the artistic community in Crozet,” she said. Every year I’m able to spend time with fellow makers and talk to customers I wouldn’t necessarily meet without this extraordinary event.”

The market is a huge undertaking for the two women, who both have children, multiple businesses and community commitments. Will they do it next year? “There will absolutely be another market next year,” Powers said. “We love throwing it and bringing the community together.” 

Established Crozet businesses like The Yellow Mug made space for small, independent businesses during the Holiday Market. Photo: Theresa Curry.

Buchanan said she couldn’t help but be touched by the crowds enjoying the day, walking around Crozet’s downtown and getting to know the town she loves. “Most of all, I was struck by the thought that they’re all here showing support for small businesses,” she said. “They could easily get everything from box stores or mail order houses. The fact that they’re here, choosing Crozet over big businesses, means so much to me.”

It’s an investment, said Powers, but not the kind that results in financial gain. “We see throwing the market each year as an investment in the heartbeat of Crozet, empowering entrepreneurs, and sustaining the unique character that makes the community thrive.”

Kid’s Craft Studio Opening at Piedmont Place

Rose Guterbock is a serious artist, specializing in figurative oil painting. Her most recent solo exhibit at Shenandoah Valley Art Center in Waynesboro, “Power and Pain,” showed the extent of her ability to bring complicated and conflicting emotions to visual life as well as her willingness to incorporate all kinds of media and gadgets into her thoughtful work. 

Rose Guterbock delights in her interaction with young artists and crafters. Submitted photo.

The interactive nature of her work is a given with Guterbock, who said she’s never been content with painting alone in her studio. Many in Crozet know her through “Rose’s Inspiration Station,” a mobile art cart, that she makes available at scheduled events and wheels into parties to the delight of children and their families. She’s taking her love of connection with young human beings further with the February opening of her “Kid’s Craft Studio” in the corner space at Piedmont Place, just across from the Crozet Creamery. 

The plan was hatched when Guterbock was asked to curate the impressive contemporary art collection in the hallway gallery at Piedmont Place. This led to a discussion with owner, Andrew Baldwin, about renting the long-vacant storefront, first occupied by SmoJo’s and then by Essentials.

Guterbock’s excited to be part of the market offerings at Piedmont Place. “I’m hopeful that families will stop by for a sandwich from Crozeli, or a scoop from Crozet Creamery,” she said, “and do an art activity at the studio while taking in some contemporary art.” She wants the new studio to be a hub of inspiration, imagination, and artistic exploration for children five years old and older.

Artist Rose Gutterbock is the newest resident of Piedmont Place. Rose’s Inspiration Station will occupy the corner opposite the Creamery in February. Submitted photo.

“I want to use art to help young learners build confidence and self-awareness through artistic experiences,” she said. “I’m excited to open a storefront so kids can explore their creativity, develop artistic skills, and most importantly, have fun while doing so.”

The Kids’ Craft Studio at Piedmont Place will offer a number of project-based crafts, she said. Young artisans will first select a project from a menu of options and upgrade their project by selecting items from the “creative delights” library. Projects can either be completed at the studio, taken to-go, or gift-wrapped. The studio will also offer an assortment of art-related merchandise.

More information about the grand opening celebration and the studio is available on rosesinspirationstation.com.

Exercise Tips from Crozet’s Newest Fitness Business

Leslie Dice, soon to open MTHD 434, a high-intensity, low-impact studio, said she can relate to everyone who dreads facing their own New Year’s resolutions to get fit. “I was that person,” she said. 

Leslie Dice will open MTHD in February. Submitted photo.

After being extremely active as a competitive cheerleader, she became quite sedentary. “I didn’t work out at all,” she said. To try to get back on a healthy course, she joined a gym, but “I didn’t go,” she said. Something about wasting her hard-earned money by not showing up prompted her to attend an unfamiliar (to her) barre class. 

She half-expected the teacher and students would be annoyed with her. “Instead, they were welcoming and kind.” That incident has stayed with her ever since. She realized that fitness should feel fun and not scary, and continued to work on her health, becoming a barre trainer and then opening The Basement Studio last year. 

She has some ideas for those intimidated by the thought of appearing in public in spandex, let alone showing up at an unfamiliar studio. 

“Tell the teacher, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing,’” she said. “Plenty of people have asked me if I’m judging them, but I’m not.  I’ve found it best to say to people who are nervous that, yes, this is hard and scary, but I’ll be right beside you.

It’s okay to ask for modifications, too, if you have an injury or have issues relating to age or chronic conditions, she said. “Just walk in, say ‘Hi, I’m new. What do I do?’” 

You don’t have to go to a studio, she said, to embark on an exercise program. “If you’ve never run, start small. Run a quarter-mile and walk home. Remove your focus from how bad you are and put all your attention on the fact that you’re doing it.”

Studios are helpful in that the time and expense can make you accountable. “But you can find an accountability buddy, too. Arrange to meet at a certain time and place. You’ll be less likely to change your mind.”

Even if you’re exercising alone, you need to make a definite time and stay with it, she said. “Put it on your calendar. Make it non-negotiable. If you say you’re going to walk every day at noon, then do it. Soon it will be second nature.”

MTHD 434 is looking for staff, and offering training for new staff in late January. To find out more about employment opportunities as well as how to join, go to MTHD434.com

Biz Bits

Ryan Becklund, the owner of Botanical Fare in Charlottesville and Bar Botanical in Crozet, said her Crozet restaurant on the roof of Piedmont Place will now be open Wednesdays from 4 to 10 p.m., with some wine specials, and will open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Fiesta Azteca will open in mid-January at the former Ivy Road House at Routes 250 and 240. It will be operated by the owners of the present Jalisco at Clover Lawn, which will close. 

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