Local shop owner wants to help save the world
Posted: 04/06/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Holly Deal
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$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Chrissy Krieger (left) and owner Marsha Stiles look through a kaleidoscope made out of stained glass at The Arts and Crafts Haven in Elkhart during its grand opening on Thursday. $PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$
Truth Photo By Delayna Earley
Marsha Stiles, founder of The Arts and Crafts Haven, said what began as an art shop will soon become a community haven and she has already started the process even before the store has opened.
The self-proclaimed attention deficit disorder artist said she wants to host food drives on a daily basis to help supply local food pantries, be able to have clothing to provide for those in need and host arts and crafts classes for people of all ages and abilities.
She also has done a stuffed animal drive for abused children at The Villages in Elkhart and hosted a Christmas food drive.
Stiles' penchant for helping others has helped her create the shop she'd been dreaming of opening for years and helped her compile a group of local artists to fill it up with their unique brands of art.
The idea behind the shop was to get a group of artists together to help pay for the building they could share to sell and show their art and to create a network of local artists.
“A lot of people can't afford to get a building by themselves, so I figured if everyone chipped in, it would be easier,” Stiles said.
The store is having its grand opening event Saturday, although it opened its doors in October.
The shop is home to about 10 resident artists who create everything from stained-glass pieces to diaper cakes, from spray-paint art to pottery.
Stiles used social media websites to find many of the artists. She used Craigslist and Facebook to find some, but others were discovered through word of mouth, she said. She's created a small network of like-minded artists who are creative but also love to give back to the community.
Some of the artists have given discounts to people who come in with a canned or non-perishable food item to donate, Stiles said.
Her passion for art started at a young age and blossomed into a love of photography, which she then studied in college and used to create a photography business she calls Smiles by Stiles Photography.
Her photography business was inspired by her son Larry, who was born with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It's a rare genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue in the body by causing a defect in the body's production of collagen, Stiles said.
Having a child with such a rare and challenging condition made it impossible for her to work a 9-to-5 job, so she opened her own photography studio to help pay the rent and bills.
That was four years ago.
Now she's onto bigger and better things, bringing her photography studio with her.
She dreams of The Haven becoming a nonprofit organization to benefit people in the community by supporting other non-profits and agencies in the area, as well as local artists.
Although she is the founder of the shop, she doesn't think of herself as the president of the company. She thinks of the shop as more of a collective in which all the participating artists keep 100 percent of their profits.
“I have a ‘save-the-world' attitude. (I think) little acts of kindness make a difference,” Stiles said. “I've been so far very blessed to have really good people who want to see (the shop) prosper and grow.”
Stiles said she still has room for more resident artists.
The grand opening of The Arts and Crafts Haven will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 1731 Cassopolis St. in Elkhart.
For more information on how to become a member or to learn more about The Haven, call Stiles at 596-8395 or visit her website at theartscraftshaven.com