Get Your Juices Moving

Photos and story by Stephanie Hintz

Courtesy of Handmade Business

Teaching others how to create--that's Alissa Henrickson's outlet. "We all work for our art. It's a labor of love," says Henrickson. "No one is an artist overnight."

Henrickson is the owner and founder of Creative Juices Artisan Shoppe, located in downtown Kimberly, Wisconsin. She founded Creative Juices 12 years ago, and since then has grown her business to include a retail/gallery store, yarn shop, classes and workshops, and has opened a second location about ten miles away in Appleton, Wisconsin.

A model enterprise

Men

Creative Juices owner, Alissa Henrickson, shows some of the men's line made by Long Rifle Soap, Co.

Creative Juices offers much more than its creative name suggests; Henrickson has developed and implemented a unique business model that truly works. As much as Henrickson admits that she loves to dabble in many avenues of art and crafts, she realized early on that she would not be able to keep up with adequately stocking her store with her own products. So, she decided to employ the help of other talented artists--and allow them to take on a sense of "ownership" in the process.

The artists that have their handmade products for sale at Creative Juices do more than just supply the shop with unique, one-of-a-kind handmade items. They take turns manning the shop, assist with displays, lead classes and workshops, and in a space in the rear of the shop are able to work on projects right on location. It is truly a hands-on, live-art experience for artists and customers.

"It's a great opportunity for makers," says Henrickson. "I came up with the concept, as I wanted to give artists the opportunity to share time in the store and work on building up our [artist] community." She says artists can bring projects there to work on, field customers, and help contribute to the store's dynamics.

Henrickson requires potential artists who wish to work with her to submit an application. When artists are approved, their time in the store is on a volunteer basis and their items for sale are done so by consignment; the artists set their own prices. They are free to exchange items and replenish as needed, so long as they follow the inventory programming in place. Volunteer artists are trained on working in the store and how to operate the point-of-sale systems.

The artists can also offer classes and workshops in their respective mediums. A price-point and material list is established, and then Creative Juices supplies the materials for the course or workshop. Artists also have the option of providing materials if they wish.

"I've had my work in different shops over the years, and pulled different elements from them when I developed my program," Henrickson said. "I wanted something relatively paperless."

All of the work for sale at Creative Juices is handmade in Wisconsin by Wisconsin artisans. For tourists and locals that frequent the shop, that authenticity is very important to them and enhances their shopping experience.

While Henrickson collaborates with over 50 regional artists, there are a few brands that are quite active within the shop. Square One Soapworks, LLC; Made by Marney; Ginger and Waldo; Recorked; Kristine Marie Jewelry; Long Rifle Soap Co.; Calyrew Paper; Eclectic Woodworks; Because of Hope; and of A Design Studio--to name just a few. Henrickson says she looks for quality when evaluating artists and she tries to be encouraging and offer suggestions if an artist who applies isn't a good fit for her store at the time.
Men

Unique handmade crochet hats are just a few of the whimsical items found on the shelves at Creative Juices Artisan Shoppe.


Classes, workshops, and parties--oh my!

Upcycled Wine Bottle Vases

A variety of handcrafted photo frames, upcycled wine bottle vases, handcrafted soaps, and jewelry are some of the smaller cash-and-carry items dotted throughout the store.

As mentioned earlier, Henrickson loves to teach and collaborate with others. An avid fiber artist and jewelry designer, she has led numerous workshops and classes in knitting, crocheting, stamping, scrapbooking, and beading.

Some of the workshops that have been held at Creative Juices have included: soap making, knit and crochet, creative card-making, and scrapbooking. Some gatherings have a more casual twist, like the regularly occurring Fiber Arts Group. Led by Henrickson, the group meets in a lounge inside the shop and makers of all skill levels bring along whatever project they are working on and knit and crochet together. The comradery between the members of the group is close, and sometimes even non-knitters stop by for coffee just to visit, talk, and join in the company.

Other classes that have been held include learning to knit, beginning crochet, stamp camp, Fair Isle knitting, and intro to entrelac knitting.

In March 2017, Creative Juices hosted a "Make and Take" event at the WBAY Home and Garden Show in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where guests could make projects such as decorative garden stones, string art, and painted boards and signs, and then take their items home with them.

Keeping the artisan movement alive, Creative Juices also offers creative party packages; rooms can be reserved for project-based birthday, bridal, baby, and bachelorette parties, for example. Henrickson has even traveled to other locations to lead Make and Take employee team-building workshops; one fun workshop Henrickson recalls was with the Green Committee at Secura Insurance.

Hand-Poured Candles Packaged In Unique Upcycled Wine Bottles

Hand-poured candles packaged in unique upcycled wine bottles are signature pieces by Recorked.

Handmade jewelry by Kristine Marie

Handmade jewelry by Kristine Marie illustrates how elegance can also be bold.


"That was an Earth Day workshop. I started with your basic slideshow, and then employees had to work together to make a picture frame. It was great--it was so much fun," Henrickson recalls.

Creativity on-the-road

Upcycled Tote Bags by A Design Studio

Upcycled tote bags by A Design Studio are both practical and eco-friendly.

In addition to serving customers in both Creative Juices locations, Henrickson also takes her handmade work on the road to local and regional art and craft shows. This summer and fall she can be found exhibiting at the 60th Annual Winnebagoland Art Fair, De Pere Downtown Art Walk, Wisconsin Lutheran College Art and Craft Fair, 42nd Annual Arts Festival and Beer Garden, Venetian Festival-Lake Geneva, Art Street Green Bay, Crafty Apple Fest, Wo Zha Wa Days Art Fair, Octoberfest Appleton, and the Greenville Fall Craft Fair.

Participating in these shows helps Henrickson widen her customer and artist base, keeps her work fresh and relevant, and offers valuable opportunities for networking and sharing Creative Juices and all her business has to offer.

Keeping the juices flowing

Henrickson has plenty of future plans for Creative Juices to keep her business's creative juices flowing. "We started with 17 artists, and now are up to 50," she says. "We are going to work towards more artist and community involvement--that's key to making it work."

When it comes to emerging artists looking to expand their horizons, Henrickson has this advice: "Don't be easily swayed by popular opinion; do what you love and don't be discouraged."

She adds that new artists don't need to accept every bit of advice they are given. "It can be discouraging at times," she acknowledges, "but just seeing the happy looks in your customers' faces--then you know you can make it."

For more experienced artists, Henrickson suggests that they approach each day with an open mind. "Sometimes you don't know where your art will take you. Keep a positive attitude and maintain your passion. Tomorrow is another day, so keep looking ahead and ask yourself, 'what can I do tomorrow?'"

The talented entrepreneur is tough and rugged with a side of soft sweetness. She is truly appreciative of the impact her work has on others. Once, she made a necklace for a customer that read, "The love between a mother and son lasts forever."

She learned that the woman had given birth to a child when she was just 16 years-old and chose to give her baby up for adoption. Years later and married, she struggled to conceive again. "Here she was, trying to have a baby and she couldn't," Henrickson reminisces. "Then, out of the blue she gets a call from her long-lost son who had finally found her, and they reconnected."

Henrickson says to hear those stories and to see her customer's reactions when they are over the moon with the pieces they buy from her--that's the best.

"The best part of running my business is the customers. I love creating things for my customers that they really like and love--that's the reward."