Opening a business in a doomed building seemed like the natural thing to do for Ashley Faries and Amanda Almazan.
The 26-year-old twin sisters have been making use of discarded materials since they were young – tailoring and redesigning hand-me-downs to stand out from their five older siblings.
As adults, they’ve made bracelets out of wallpaper and earrings out of old bottle caps, and they have wielded power tools to refashion an old salon station into a desk.
So when Faries’ marriage engagement fell through in 2012, she “repurposed” her personal wedding funds to help start Lucky Pie art gallery at the corner of Chatham Street and Harrison Avenue in Cary.
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The sisters couldn’t fill the 1,900-square-foot space when they first moved in. Now, the floors and walls are covered with eclectic, custom-made jewelry, paintings, furniture and art made by local artists.
But in a year or so, their downtown building is expected to be demolished to make way for a new mixed-use project. So the sisters are looking for a new space, and they’re asking for the public’s help to raise money to expand the business.
Faries and Almazan haven’t targeted a particular location, but they’ve looked at spaces in Cary and Raleigh.
“We’re putting everything we have into finding a new space,” Almazan said. “And we’re hoping (the fundraiser) will help us expand so that we can offer more programs and feature more art and more artists.”
The sisters are using the website kickstarter.com in hopes of raising $24,000 by Oct. 22.
Kickstarter takes an all-or-nothing approach to helping people raise money. If potential donors pledge the needed amount for a project by a certain deadline, it gets funded. If the needed funds aren’t pledged by the deadline, the fundraiser expires and no money changes hands.
The Lucky Pie owners say most of the money they’re asking for will go toward adding an outdoor patio to their future space and customizing it so they can operate as a cafe.
Their Kickstarter page includes a detailed list of how the money will be used, and offers gifts to people who pledge certain amounts.
For example, they’re sending a pair of earrings made by local artist Ivania Gutierrez to those who pledge $25 or more, a set of decorative hanging orbs by local potter Paul Halpin to those who pledge $75 or more and a paper maché moose head to those who pledge $500 or more.
As of Friday, about 30 people had pledged a total of $1,800.
The sisters knew from the start that their current space was destined to be demolished.
Along with its location on a high-traffic road, the building’s fate was part of its appeal. If Lucky Pie failed, the sisters would lose less money because rent was cheaper than other locations they considered.
Faries and Almazan say they’ve succeeded without having to borrow any money because they feature art from artists that are new or simply overlooked by other art galleries with complicated standards.
“Some places look at an artist’s resumé as much as his actual work, or only take art that they think can sell,” Almazan said.
“We don’t care about your resumé, and we’re not really interested in stuff that’s made to appeal to every customer,” she said. “We look for stuff that’s unique, stuff that the artist made because he’s passionate about it.”
Cary artist Diane Johnston said she has benefited from the sisters’ openness. Johnston began making earrings from wire and beads a little more than a year ago.
Johnston often went to Lucky Pie for inspiration before the sisters agreed to sell her work. Since then, she’s sold about 50 pairs of earrings and more than a dozen necklaces.
“(The sisters) are change agents for budding artists,” Johnston said.
A move to Raleigh?
Faries and Almazan have met with Ted Boyd, Cary’s downtown manager, about staying in Cary. They’ve also caught the attention of Raleigh City Councilman Bonner Gaylord, who recently said he wants to help them move to a space they’ve looked at on Glenwood Avenue.
Gaylord said he wants to “determine if there’s any way we can help these fledgling businesses that are trying to open a location in Raleigh.”
“I don’t think we can do anything directly,” he said. “But I think there’s a way we can indirectly get that word out.”
Colin Campbell contributed to this report.