Initiative combines art and business to craft success


If the recession has a plus side it is that many people have returned to the basics of life. “Do it yourself” has taken on a whole new meaning. And, in many instances, it has triggered a revival in arts and crafts as well as a renewed appreciation for folk art and creativity.

That is the essence behind a new citywide brand and promotional campaign, Handcrafted Alexandria. Scheduled to launch in late March, it will combine the resources of 14 art and retail businesses “to pack a bigger promotional punch” than any of the businesses could accomplish on their own,” according to Claire Mouledoux, the project’s director. 
In this case the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

With a $13,000 grant from the Alexandria Marketing Fund, to be matched by Handcrafted Alexandria, “The campaign will include advertisements, a website, email and direct mailings, social media presence, a reusable shopping bag, special shopping events and more,” Mouledoux said.

“The Handcrafted Alexandria campaign will raise awareness of the large concentration of art, craft supply and classes and specialty culinary businesses in Alexandria. Both visitors and residents of the Greater Washington area will learn that they can come to one area for a wide variety of creative businesses,” Mouledoux said.

She is joined in that analysis by Danielle Romanetti, owner of fibre space, located at 102 N. Fayette St., who, along with Mouledoux came up with not only the same idea but also the same name when she opened her yarn shop and Mouledoux was director of communications for the Torpedo Factory Art Center.

“When I opened my shop last July it was part of my business plan to try and start an organization like Handcrafted so that businesses could help one another,” Romanetti said. “I then learned that Claire had the same idea and even the same name for the organization.” 

“It is also another way to put Alexandria on the map for being a place to come for special hand-crafted and unique items. It’s a good time for handcrafted items because people are going back to more things that they can do themselves,” she said.

Romanetti’s shop is a prime example of that theory. Selling knitting and crochet supplies as well as staging events both at the shop and off site, she has found that many people want to learn how to do things themselves. “Business has been very good since we’ve been open,” she said.

Other campaign partners in this endeavor include the artists at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, La Muse, Potomac Bead Company, Ten Thousand Villages, Artcraft, Arts Afire Glass Gallery, The Art League Gallery and School, Carafe Winemakers, Del Ray Artisans, Gossypia, Imagine Artwear, Knit Happens, and Oerth Gallery.

In addition to monies from the Alexandria Marketing Fund, they have also received a $5,000 award based on an application from The Art League for a Tourism and Arts Grant sponsored by the Virginia Tourism Corporation and Virginia Commission for the Arts. The financial contributions of the partners received the match from the Marketing Fund when the Torpedo Factory Art Center presented the proposal to the city last September.

“I am thrilled about this,” said Rosemary Covey, president of the Torpedo Factory Artists Association. “It is something we’ve wanted to do for some time to connect the artists at the Art Center with businesses. It’s a very good collaboration.” 

“We hope to differentiate Alexandria as the best location in the area to find creative businesses,” Mouledoux said. “The city itself is reflective of Handcrafted with unique character, nooks and crannies, and personal stories behind objects and structures that you see.”