FRONT ROYAL - Everything fell into place for Teresa Henry, owner of Strokes of Creativity, when space became available that would allow her to house a home for local artisans from the Northern Shenandoah Valley.
“I’ve been talking about opening my own boutique and studio for well over 10 years,” Henry said. “When I’m here, in the shop, I’m in my element. Anything artistic goes.”
There are 18 like-minded artists at the artist co-op. Henry’s hope was to offer a space that allowed artists to enhance their creative careers but maybe didn’t have the means or space to do so. Henry, the co-founder of the Front Royal Artists and Crafters Network on Facebook with Kathy Riley, knew there was a niche that needed to be filled. It was just a matter of how.
“We’re not formal like a gallery or informal like a craft show,” Henry said. “Instead, we’re a group of people who saw a need and wanted to fill it.”
When the retail space became available in August, Henry said it was serendipitous timing.
“I knew I wanted to do it, but I didn’t think I could,” she said. “It wasn’t until my husband and friends encouraged me to that I realized it was something I [really] could do.”
Encouraged by her tribe and a never-ending dream, Strokes of Creativity opened on Main Street in September just in time for the Festival of Leaves.
“What an amazing weekend to open a business in downtown Front Royal,” she said. “It really reminds you that businesses like this are the heart and soul of a community.”
The walls of Strokes of Creativity are adorned with acrylic paintings, photographs, hand-drawn images and watercolors. Scattered throughout the store sit handmade children’s toys, hand-crafted jewelry and holiday wreaths.
Henry said there is only one requirement for the boutique: that everything is homemade in some fashion.
“It’s an eclectic mix,” Henry said. “People may walk in, think they want something in particular but walk out with something completely different. That’s what makes it so fun.”
Lori Terwilliger, a photographer and local artisan, was tickled when she discovered the boutique was opening on Main Street. She said she had spent some time participating in the craft show circle but really wanted a place where she could tell her friends to stop by and see her photos.
“The best thing about Strokes of Creativity is that it’s also a working studio,” Terwilliger said. “I can come in, work on my art and talk to customers all at the same time.”
Plus, it gives Henry an opportunity to explore the valley for more local talent, something both women said its vital to the success of not only the store but any artists dream.
Henry said the community is so rich in artistic talent.
“There are so many talented people out there who simply didn’t have the space to share their work, and now they do,” she said.
Strokes of Creativity is a working studio and also offers workshops and classes throughout the week.