Gathering new ideas

Local shop offers regional, handmade items

By Katie Demeria

FRONT ROYAL — When shoppers enter Gathered, they are stepping into the idea that has been in Cadyn Speziale’s head for almost 10 years.

“Every once in a while it hits me, and I stop and think, ‘Wow, I’m actually doing this,'” she said.

Speziale opened Gathered at a small location on Church Street in April 2013. Last spring she moved into her current location, which is about 700 square feet, at 413 East Main St.

She worked in a similar boutique in Savannah, Georgia, after graduating from college, and when she settled in Front Royal still had the idea of opening her own store.

Now she supports the work of more than 70 regional artists, offering both local residents and visitors the opportunity to keep a piece of the area with them.

The products Gathered offers range from clothing and jewelry to soaps and home decor. Many items are made with an eco-conscious attitude, she said, which fits well with her desired aesthetic for the store: natural and whimsical.

“I like it to feel like you’re walking into a little world all unto itself,” she said.

Speziale tries to include as many natural elements into the store as possible, from displays to products. Every body care item she carries, for example, is completely natural and created locally. And she displays jewelry on branches that she collected outside her home.

Gathered also sports prints and postcards that are made specifically for Front Royal. Some of the Virginia-shaped pillows Speziale carries have hearts near the top, marking the town.

And Gathered offers Speziale her own outlet to sell the intricately beaded jewelry she designs herself, as well.

She said she tries to keep prices reasonable so the store remains accessible to the average customer who wants to purchase items without spending too much. Larger products are kept at least below $250, but the smaller items, like postcards, are as low as $1.

Right now Speziale is still the only employee. But she said she eventually wants to build the business enough to support an employee base, giving her more time to focus on other aspects of the store.

“I will never not be able to have a hand in it, but it would be nice to focus on other things, like working with the makers and the displays and the clientele,” she said.

But Speziale is not only focusing on Gathered at the moment. She and her partner, Andrew Speziale, have joined forces in another venture called Immortal Mountain, making handcrafted, all-natural, raw, herbal chocolate.

“We’re planning on expanding that because we are passionate homesteaders and try to source as much from our land as possible,” she said. “A lot of the herbs we include in our chocolates come directly from our garden.”

The couple is expanding that business, too, now selling the chocolate at some local retailers, including in Gathered, and hoping to eventually sell other herbal products.

“It’s really gratifying, seeing all this come together,” Speziale said. “Who would have thought that chocolates and local artwork would somehow tie together. But it makes total sense to me.”

In the end, she added, the idea of tying together a connection with the land and supporting local artists, who make everything from eco-friendly clothes to soaps, comes down to community.

“You can’t do everything yourself. I think it’s necessary to have those relationships with your community and know where your things come from,” she said. “It’s a trend, but it’s a good trend. I hope it’s not the kind of trend that fades away.”

Visit Gathered’s website at http://www.gatheredshop.com and learn about Immortal Mountain at http://www.immortalmountain.com.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com