At first glance, Wonder Made seems to be a retail shop selling handmade goods. Look again, and you’ll see that there is much more to this tiny shop.
Walking inside, a visitor will notice handmade books lining the shelves and crafted, intricate, feathered hair pieces neatly organized atop display tables. Necklaces constructed from motorcycle parts decorate the jewelry display to the right, and to the left visitors will find homemade candles, creams, powders, and “thank you” cards that they can plant in the ground and grow flowers from.
There’s no sign on the door yet, but Wonder Made’s (19 Warren St., Concord) shop interior already speaks of the charm, innovation and creativity of Concord’s craftsmen (actually, mostly women) — it also offers a workshop space, craft space, class space, and an opportunity for artists to expand and explore. The shop, which features work from more than 40 craftsmen, aims to touch on everything a craftsman or artist could ever want.
The most significant detail to note, however, is the welcome you receive when you walk through the door.
You’ll be greeted by Jessica Santacruce of Pembroke, Laura Loci of Concord or Patricia Huntley of Concord, the three women running the show. They’ve taken time out of their busy lives to build this outlet; all also juggle full-time jobs and/or families.
“We’re trying to build community in a lot of different ways,” Loci said. “Wonder Made is very dreamlike, and our goals are very dream- and wonder-like, but our goals are also very practical,” she said. One of the shop’s goals is to get people to shop local, to support one another. “If you need baby powder, you don’t have to go to Walmart or Target. You can get that here from one of the moms who makes it,” Loci said.
The Wonder Made group came together in January after Loci, who is a tattoo artist, saw that the space next to Bona Fide Tattoo (21 Warren St., Concord) was opening up. Two months later, the trio opened Wonder Made. Now they’re looking to become a nonprofit.
It’s a lot of work, but at the same time, it’s not work at all. For Santacruce, putting this space together helps her feel as though she has more control in her life.
“You get so caught up in your nine-to-five life, and sometimes, you don’t always do the things that make you feel alive. Coming here for a sixth day working is not an issue for me. Having a studio place I can use is something that I didn’t have when I was out of school. We hope to provide that to other artists — a place where they can get away and do what they love to do,” Santacruce said.
One thing you’ll see at Wonder Made that you might not at for-profit stores: innovation. Many people are selling recycled, constructed and invented items.
Huntley, a mom who is expecting another soon, sews mom essentials like burping cloths and nursing aprons.
“Sewing became a therapeutic hobby the past few years, but it’s great having a place to put it when I’m done,” Huntley said.
Carla Cochran is another who found an opportunity through Wonder Made. She found the shop just a couple weeks ago. Having worked the craft fair circuit, she’s excited to have found somewhere new to share her product, ThePracticalCat. It’s a mat that you can put on your couches, chairs or sofas so that your cute kitties won’t scratch up the pillows and cushions.
“It’s an opportunity to sell through a storefront, which is one of the best services they provide. I’ve been to some of the boutique pet stores, and I didn’t like what they would have done — they wanted to mark up my item 100 percent,” Cochran said. Here, she can sell her kitty mat at an affordable price. Having worked in a health profession her entire life, she says Wonder Made allows her to “re-create” herself.
The organization provides some classes, too. There’s a three-part basic sewing class, Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m., July 22 through July 25 ($75). There’s a “Sew a Circle Skirt” class, Friday, July 13, from 6 to 9 p.m. ($30); a Kids’ Pillow Case sewing class on Friday, July 20, noon to 2 p.m. ($30); and a belly dancing class each month (donations accepted).
“The people that are doing this are doing it for the love of it. You have to want to do it. Nobody is going to become famous or rich by becoming a member and selling their work, but we do hope that we can provide people with individual empowerment for their lives,” Loci said.
They are still in the beginning phases. The opportunities are endless, and Wonder Made is looking for more people to become a part of their community — which, pet-lovers will be happy to learn, is dog-friendly. They’d like to start a knitting group for refugee women.
Wonder Made’s success is, however, dependent on the people who join. In order for it to be a community organization, the community needs to come in and participate.
“We can only give what is given here,” Santacruce said. Call Wonder Made at 412-855-3935.