Five Local Artisans Put on a Show
A bejeweled turquoise silk sachet filled with lavender from Wilton’s Cynthia Alexander.
It’s that time again, a time we both love and dread. Yes folks! It’s time to shop for holiday gifts. But don’t be dismayed. We’ve got you covered. Four local artisans are making it easier for all of us to find the right present to give (or perhaps to keep). The second annual Holiday Market takes place at Old Town Hall starting Thursday December 1 and runs through December 4. Visitors can find handmade jewelry, silk shawls, exquisite linens, vintage home goods, sachets, pillows, women’s accessories, and much more.
“I have always had a passion for color, fragrance and stones, so designing jewelry and creating our bejeweled silk aromatherapy pillows allows me to spend my days working with what I love,” says designer Cynthia Grano, a former investment banker, now owner of Cynthia Alexander Designs. Grano sells her unique wares online and in retail stores throughout Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Because of the lavender in a number of her aromatherapy products, she is often referred to as “The Lavender Lady,” a moniker she happily accepts.
“An attention to detail and a love of style prompted me to change career paths from fashion design to the area of vintage home goods,” says Jean Forte of Jean Forte Vintage Gifts. “It’s really a passion as well as a business,” says Forte, who scours flea markets, tag sales, and antique stores looking for unique one-of-a-kind treasures to refurbish, reinterpret, and pass on to consumers. Offerings include silver trays, lovely china platters, an array of sterling silverware, gravy boats, candlesticks, and numerous objets d’art. “I love history and the romance of finding beautiful treasures,” says Forte. “Mixing old with new creates a fresh look that you can really make your own.”
First, Suzanne Saltzman worked on Wall Street doing institutional research. Next, she morphed into a jewelry designer and, finally, after 20 years in that field, she transitioned into a career as a women’s accessories designer. Saltzman loves the creative aspect of her latest profession as well as the challenge of coming up with original designs each season. She also enjoys the change of pace from the retail world and now only sells her products directly to the consumer or through partnering with fundraising ventures. “One of the most rewarding parts of what I do is giving a percentage of my sales back to the fundraising organization,” says Saltzman. At her display, visitors can expect to find elegant fringed shawls embellished with crystals and semi-precious stones, multi-colored scarves, fabulous evening clutches, and one-of-a-kind handbags.
This former beauty queen and international model never felt as if she fit in when it came to the world of fashion. So she quit, went back to school, and became a professional audio engineer in New York City. Sobelson soon realized that working nights in a recording studio wasn’t compatible with motherhood, so she opted to stay home with her kids, and turned her creative energies to sewing. “I sewed everything: clothing, home furnishings, tote bags, window treatments, bedding, pillows, and other types of home décor. Finally, my husband said, ‘You should try selling some of this stuff.’ So I did.” Sobelson’s Weston-based business, Anita Designs, offers rustic linen home and table goods with beautiful stamped designs inspired by nature: tea towels, pillows, tissue box covers, cocktail napkins, fingertip towels, table linens, and more. Says Sobelson, “I love making something that has my heart in it that brings joy to other people.”