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Stay Local & Shop Local: Picnicking with Local Artists

The holidays are just around the corner, and it’s time to make our plans. Millions of Americans travel each year to see family for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but with the spread of COVID-19 increasing daily and by dramatic numbers, it may be a good year to adjust your holiday plans. It’s unclear how safe it is to travel by plane, and is it worth the risk? Now is a great time to stay local to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. It’s also a great time to shop local, as many small businesses are suffering and need our support.

Why shop local?

  • You can buy handmade, one-of-a-kind products
  • The quality is usually better and uses more eco-friendly materials
  • Supporting small businesses keeps locals in business
  • Small businesses are struggling due to COVID-19
  • The big box stores (Amazon, Target, etc.) will still be there at the end of the pandemic
  • Local businesses often support a cause or donate to charity
  • Your environmental impact is reduced
  • Supporting local businesses stimulates your local economy
  • Customer service is generally better
  • You’re not supporting big companies who may are more likely to exploit their workers

This fall I caught up with a couple of my buddies who are also local artists in the Raleigh-Durham area. Joanne Lee is the creator and owner of Joanne Lee Art and Design, a small business that sells handmade jewelry, stationery cards, and linocut prints. Heather Westervelt is a Raleigh photographer, who specializes in artistic family photos. She aims to take original photos for her clients that are not your conventional portraits. She also enjoys shooting nature and landscapes. She has a terrific eye for detail, and a natural ability to capture the story behind her subjects. I asked Heather to document our fall picnic, which we coined a “chicknic”, and snap some photos of Joanne’s beautiful handmade jewelry.

Heather Westervelt and Joanne Lee

Joanne Lee is passionate about creating handmade products that others feel happy wearing. She started making her jewelry 10 years ago, while juggling jobs and a family, but has been focused more intensively on her craft over the last four years.

Joanne’s jewelry is made with precious stones, wooden beads, leather, hemp, metal wire, as well as materials she repurposes from items she finds at estate sales, yard sales, and flea markets. She sells her jewelry on Etsy and Leclair’s General Store in Fayetteville, a store selling unique fair trade products and locally made goods, including the tartan blanket used for our picnic spread.

The inspiration behind Joanne’s jewelry comes from many places. She studied Studio Art and Art Education and subsequently enjoys pulling ideas from art books, design magazines, and museum visits. She also enjoys pulling inspiration from nature walks she goes on with her son. Joanne is a very visual person and enjoys finding beauty in every day living.

Now is an especially important time for us to stay local and support our local artisans and other small businesses. This holiday season I challenge you to think of at least three local businesses you can buy from. They will appreciate it more than you know! Let’s work together to keep these businesses alive and thriving.

You can find Joanne’s jewelry at Leclair’s General Store in Fayetteville, NC, or by visiting the store’s website leclairsgeneralstore.com. Also, you can view her items and direct message for custom orders on her instagram account, @joanneleeart.

Interested in booking a session with Heather? I highly recommend her! You can find her on instagram @hwestervelt_photography, or her facebook page, HWestervelt Photography.

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