If you’re looking for a fun place to get the perfect gift, look no further than Hope Street. Tucked into a corner is a shop that appears tiny, but it’s bursting with charm and handmade pieces, primarily from local artists. Kim Clark started Rhody Craft back in 2009 as a Saturday morning pop-up in her studio at Hope Artiste Village (HAV). She sold her jewelry along with the work of a handful of other local artists during the Farm Fresh Winter Farmer’s Market. “Two years ago, I relocated from HAV to Hope Street and a full time-brick and mortar,” explains Kim. “Initially, I only sold locally handmade art and crafts, but since then I’ve filled in the edges with a few fun, colorful, yet not handmade items. Rhody Craft still primarily showcases the work of over 40 artisans.”
The emphasis on all things local is probably the biggest draw of Rhody Craft. The first thing you notice is a ton of cool Rhody gear – t-shirts, mugs, glasses, baby onesies with the state flag, outlines of the Providence skyline and other cute ways to sport your home state pride fill the walls. And you can get more neat stuff, even if you don’t see it in the store. “We’ve curated the biggest, best collection of locally designed and printed, RI-themed t-shirts found anywhere. A good deal of our work is proprietary, meaning it’s designed by either me or a locally commissioned artist, printed locally and only available at the store,” explains Kim. “So for instance, when we get enough requests for a Rhode Island tea towel, and can’t source one we like or one at a good price, we design and print it ourselves and everyone wins.” Kim has also lived three blocks away from the store for two decades and sits on the board of the local neighborhood association.
There are a lot of eye-catching pieces that are unique and unexpected, like repurposed vintage crafts, beer can candles, colorful jewelry and tons of stuff with bright colors and interesting patterns. “It’s a great feeling to sell work I love, made by people I respect, and an even better feeling to send them consignment checks every month,” says Kim. “In the past two years I’ve learned a ton about running a full-time small business and it’s been an exciting adventure. I’m proud to be supporting local artisans and to have created several part time jobs.” Even though it’s a tight space, it’s packed with goodies galore.
Additionally, along with two friends, Kim founded Craftopia, “a super duper day of art, craft, food and fun that is a yearly juried craft show that just celebrated its eighth season at Hope Artiste Village,” says Kim. “I’m glad to still have a connection with the building where Rhody Craft got its start.” Check out the website for info on the next Craftopia (coming in November) event and its vendors, and to shop some of Rhody Craft’s favorite pieces online. Because who can resist showing a little local love?
780 Hope Street