Cindy Saraga was a stay-at-home mom of middle school boys when she tip-toed into the crafting market.
“I took some pumpkins made with recycled mason jars to a craft fair in Fuquay,” she said.
When she made a few sales, she was hooked. In April, Saraga took her one-time hobby full circle and opened Southern Home Crafts in Apex, a store for local artists to showcase their wares.
“I thought I could make a difference in other people’s lives,” she said. “I could offer space for them that was not so outrageous in price. When I walked through this store, I knew this was it. It is where I should be.”
Saraga has 18 vendors and room for five more. She is careful to ensure that each artist provides unique goods.
When she was a vendor, she said, she didn’t like the feeling of directly competing with other artists.
“I don’t have two of the same things,” she said.
Southern Home Crafts charges artists a regular fee and keeps 20 percent of any sales. Artists are expected to keep their inventory fresh and replenished as needed.
Saraga said she works hard to help new artists whose sales are slow. Eventually, though, she may have to make the decision to sever the relationship.
“I give them a fair chance,” she said. “But I feel like I’m taking their money if it doesn’t sell.”
She hopes that within a year, she will have settled on the vendors she needs to match her clientele.
The small storefront has displays in every nook and cranny.
“That’s been the most fun,” Saraga said. “Taking reused items for displays.”
Old doors and benches have been repurposed to house artists’ wares.
Some of the more popular items currently in the store include reversible aprons, clothes and beds suitable for American Girl dolls and custom pottery.
“The pottery flies off the shelf,” she said.
Southern Home Crafts offers free children’s activities at least once a month. In September, children will have a chance to make bookmarks.
A conversation with a customer led Saraga to set a goal of forging a relationship with the new Dynamic Community Charter School in Raleigh. The school serves students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Saraga would like to provide crafts for the students which could then be sold at Southern Home Crafts, with profits returned to the school.
“It was laid on my heart to help this school,” she said. “That’s my mission. When I talk about it I get goosebumps.”
With the holiday season around the corner, Saraga has begun preparing her artists.
“We get lots of foot traffic. I’ve told them they have got to be ready,” she said. “It hits hard.”
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