Local Business Spotlight: Sarah J. Handmade
This month we are speaking with Sarah Istenes, founder and owner of Sarah J. Handmade. A magical little hole in the wall, in the heart of Multnomah Village.
Phil: You started your jewelry line while working at Paloma Clothing, right?
Sarah: Yes, that’s right, I started out as the receiving girl at Paloma Clothing and then became a buyer for them. Eventually I started my own wholesale jewelry line which I was able to sell in small boutiques up and down the West Coast, and as far East as Montana. Mike and Kim, and Tracy, the Manager at Paloma, have always been very supportive of me and really helped me get off the ground with Sarah J. Handmade.
Phil: There are so many interesting things in your shop. When did you offer more than just jewelry?
Sarah: From day one I have only made jewelry, and I started selling it locally at Multnomah Days since 2008. I found that just selling jewelry didn’t fill up a booth completely so I asked my sister (who is an amazing artist) to join me. Then another year I would ask a friend who did pottery or soaps or something else to come also. When I opened the store in May 2015, I took that same strategy and started out with five friends. Now we’ve grown to over 30 local artists including: painters, potters, photographers, soap-makers, silversmiths, leather-workers, tie-dye artists, skincare lines, crystals, candles, and more!
Phil: That’s great that so many local artists get to be represented.
Sarah: I’ve always imagined the store to be small. I dreamed of a space where I could make the jewelry in the back, and then sell it in the front. Now that it has evolved into a full boutique, I am finding that I get more energy and joy from working with new artists. I love our space so much and being able to share my knowledge and experience from working in fashion and retail is much more exciting than just creating jewelry.
Phil: What’s next for Sarah J. Handmade?
Sarah: We have new merchandise coming which I'm really excited about! But otherwise, we’re just looking forward to many more years of being a part of this amazing community. I really feel lucky to have a platform to do good from. We’ve been able to hold fundraising events for artists who have fallen on hard times, or when there have been fires or power outages. The community responds too; recently one of our employees had her car stolen in her driveway with all of her family’s camping gear inside. I donated 100% of the profits from a couple weekends of sales to her and she was able to get back on her feet, but the community went the extra mile with cards, donations, and camping gear. I really want to give so much thanks and gratitude to our community for their incredible support! They have been so amazing to us through everything!
Sarah J. Handmade is at 7824 SW 35th Ave, Portland. 503.449.5576 – More Info at shopsjh.com