By D.K. Christi
The holiday countdown is on, and everyone is in search of something meaningful to give. When socks and sweaters just won’t do, inspiration may be found at Aerie Lane. It’s not a magical street, but rather a unique shop with a maker space to help you channel your inner Martha Stewart.
How often have you looked at Pinterest boards and wished you had the skills and time to make those festive wreaths, adorable personalized stockings or handmade ornaments? Think you can’t? Think again!
“We provide all the tools and materials necessary, along with music, laughter and a whole lot of fun!” says Aerie Lane Owner Cherie Rodriguez.
She fills the cozy space with crafting projects accompanied by creative energy, a jovial spirit and all the support needed to create holiday joy for crafters and their gift recipients. It’s a unique place, well suited for a holiday party, daddy-daughter date night, a girlfriends’ outing or a family get-together. Project completion typically takes about two hours, and mobile phones are soon forgotten.
Specific holiday crafts may be made at monthly workshops or at the open craft bar. Seasonal favorites include lap blankets, burlap wreaths, wooden toys, Christmas stockings and decorative ladders to hang them on. Ornaments are only the beginning of the items that can be customized. There are family game boards with personalized tokens, monogrammed totes and throw pillows…and so much more. Rodriguez will even finish a gift and provide custom-made labels.
“One of my favorite workshop experiences was when a mom saw her daughter’s bare footprints on a sand painting,” recalls Rodriguez. “She said with tears, ‘My daughter has my feet!’”
Plaques showcasing children’s photographs (or footprints) make great gifts for parents or grandparents, Rodriguez adds.
So how did this crafter extraordinaire get her start? During this festive time of year, Rodriguez is quick to credit her grandmother for the inspiration: “She always had a craft project to make when I visited.”
As a military wife, Rodriquez endured multiple moves and the resulting challenge of constantly finding new friends. When a friend opened an Aerie Lane crafting store near Clearwater, Fla., Rodriguez was inspired to do the same. She wanted more than a business; she wanted to help people create meaningful connections. Her husband’s military retirement provided the stability to open Aerie Lane at Bay Crossings in Bonita Springs.
It’s evident that Rodriguez is a “people person” as she welcomes her customers to a fully stocked craft bar, which is open for individual use, parties and fundraising events. The store’s décor envelops customers with holiday banners, personalized door knockers and sundry holiday-themed projects, artfully displayed to offer inspiration.
When trying to carve out time to spend with friends or family members during the holiday rush, remember the shop’s motto: “Sometimes friends need to meet at the bar.” The craft bar, that is. There’s also a coffee bar that’s always open, and customers may bring their own wine or mimosas. Aerie Lane is a “stress-free zone.”
Everything is custom, from the wood templates cut by Rodriguez’s spouse to the stencils and designs she creates on the computer. Aerie Lane has all the materials and equipment to complete a “kit” project, or customers may bring in their own ideas.
Pillows with personalized designs are popular, and so is the lazy Suzan, a favorite of Beth Robbins, who recently spent time with friends at Aerie Lane starting her holiday projects.
“My friends made me a lazy Susan for my wedding shower at Aerie Lane, and my family loves it,” she raves. All projects may be customized for any special occasion.
A visit to Aerie Lane is a chance to browse for original, eye-catching ideas and gifts at every turn of the head. Memories are made as special items are crafted for people you love. The process is as meaningful as the end result.
After a couple of creative hours, when a project is finished, customers are often heard proclaiming: “I made that!” Many never dreamed they could produce such professional looking projects, Rodriguez says. You don’t get that feeling from ordering on the Internet!