New Niles shop to showcase upcycled artistry, vintage goods
NILES — Bill and Elizabeth Keller are counting down the days until they can welcome customers into their new space at 218 N. Front St., where handmade wooden trays, charcuterie and cutting boards line one wall on display. Another wall is lined with bags made of upcycled materials.
The Kellers will open the door to The Upcycled Artisan at their first event on Nov. 14. The shop will showcase the Kellers’ handmade items, vintage pieces and other local makers in the area. Elizabeth will be using the space to meet with interior design clients, as well.
The retail space means more than a place to offer their wood working, handmade purses and décor — the space also allows their dream to grow a little bigger.
The Kellers will now both have their own workshops within the building, in addition to the retail space up front. The increased space means more creative freedom for both of them.
“I don’t know if we are crazy, insane or just excited to open this shop during COVID-19, but I think it’s just time,” Elizabeth said. “We found the space, and it was something we couldn’t pass up.”
The Kellers found the shop space for rent a few months ago. The landlord was available to show the space within 15 minutes of the call, and the couple decided it was the right move at the right time for both of them to bring their businesses to a brick-and-mortar. Elizabeth was also eager to rejoin the Niles downtown community.
“I’ve been here in the past, and I love the community,” Elizabeth said. “I love how they welcome businesses coming into town.”
She is most excited to bring a décor and design destination that draws people into the Niles area itself.
Elizabeth is a trained designer and acquired her degree in interior design. She also had a clothing line of her own while she lived in Perth, after graduating from the University of Western Australia. Her purse designs incorporate upcycled military, bank and mail carrier bags, as well as brighter designs made from found fabrics. She often uses belts to make the straps for each one. She is excited to bring her interior design business under the roof of The Upcycled Artisan as well, helping others design the window treatments and linens in their homes.
Bill is a traveling intensive care unit and emergency room nurse, and also a wood worker. He has been honing his craft more diligently over the past couple of years, but has been a maker since he was a child. He has been working with resin to introduce to his boards and pieces.
Though their areas of expertise are different, the two work together every step of the way. The shop has Bill’s handiwork going into personalizing the store, including a counter and window display area he built into the space. Elizabeth has been collecting vintage and plotting how to best display their wares, the vintage items and local feature artisans’ work throughout the shop.
“He’s the muscle, I’m the beauty,” Elizabeth said.
As the two get closer to opening their doors on Nov. 14, Elizabeth said they will be offering an open-house type atmosphere with cookies, beverages, discounts and raffles.
She hopes by January to be hosting crafting and making classes. Elizabeth said one of the classes she looks forward to offering is a “Wine and Design” type class, where she will help attendees design their own purses.
SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — COVID-19 cases are rising at a high rate in southwest Michigan, particularly in Berrien and Cass counties,... read more