Traveling down Nutty Brown Rd., my boys always make it a point to yell, “look at that giant hammer,” as we whiz past a mailbox. “Genius marketing,” I have thought to myself. It definitely catches our attention, but I had never ventured to see what the property held until recently. As I pulled in past the hammer, my assumptive, wandering mind quickly shifted gears. This is not the small piece of land with simply a unique mailbox like I had envisioned; far from it. I had entered a haven of beautiful small structures that house everything from art, to jewelry, metalworks, to potted plants, organic skincare products, and animals. I have entered Handmade at Nutty Brown.
A co-op of primarily women business owners, Handmade at Nutty Brown is operated as a cooperative, meaning 100% of purchases go directly to the maker. The rent and work of the communal store are shared by the members.
Property owner, Miguel Del Pozo, attended yoga classes with Alison Cairns and Diane Bertotti for years. Del Pozo knew that Cairns and Bertotti were looking for a place to launch their new craft class, Austin Craft Lounge, so they became the first tenants. The five-acre property boasts many tiny home structures which are occupied by small business owners specializing in different trades. The property is also home to an equine training facility, housing horses, mules, and ducks.
In 2020 business-as-usual came to a halt, especially for small business owners. Offering in-person crafting classes was no longer an option for Cairns and Bertotti, so they pivoted to making handmade items in an effort to keep their business afloat. With many small, separate studios, the ladies soon realized the layout of the property was accommodating of social distancing rules. They were all able to continue working, and each day they would gather safely for lunch, outside, at the giant tables.
It was, indeed, a privilege to continue in-person relationships during a time when opportunities to gather were so limited. Cairns had her eye on a space at the front of the property that she felt would make a nice store and shared the idea with the group. All makers, still working and safely gathering daily, but with many markets closed, could this be a solution?
The idea was born to work together to build a space to hold their own market with each of their unique items represented in one space. Cairns and Bertotti approached Authenticaa, Bee Mary and what later became Marichu Plants, (Laura, the resident equine trainer, turned to plants during COVID and acquired a grand collection) to start a co-op.
It was a group effort from the get-go. Authenticaa painted the patterned floors and spruced up the outside, Austin Craft Lounge added insulation, finished out the inside, and Bee Mary supplied furniture and displays, and together with Marichu Plants, set up a cohesive and attractive gift store. From there, they found other cooperative-spirited makers from Nutty Brown and surrounding areas.
When visiting with the women of the co-op, there was an unmistakable vibrance about them. With members from Scotland, France, Croatia, Bolivia, Venezuela, and India, to name a few, the women are culturally diverse but have each bonded over their passion for life and the arts. Complementary and encouraging, the women of Nutty Brown Handmade were excited to show me the makings of each of their co-op partners. The bond between them all left me a better woman for knowing them. They made it, and they did it together.
Stop into the shop at 12919 Nutty Brown Rd. Open Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the last Friday of each month, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also by appointment, or stop by during the week, roughly office hours, and you may get lucky. For more information visit their website at austincraftlounge.com/hand-made/. The May 21st and 22nd Dripping Springs Art Tour will include Handmade at Nutty Brown.
Austin Craft Lounge - wood, metal & pottery gifts like owl houses and tiny trays (Alison Cairns and Diane Bertotti)
Authenticaa - artistic metal items from business signs to yard art to meaningful talismans (Ariane Bihan and Alexia Maher)
BEE MARY - wearable art, crushed glass, and wildflower jewelry (Andrea Yakerson)
Cimishine - locally themed printed pillows, trays, plates, and shoes (Cathy Richardson)
Hecho A Mano - upcycled leather and guitar string jewelry (Gaby Belusar)
Marichu Plants - potted plants and plant sculptures (Laura Hermanson)
On the Fence Arts - cards, paintings, and pottery (Sheetal Kulkarni)
Philorganic - organic skincare products (Elena Castro)
Rishikesh Bliss - organic healing sprays and lotions (Lizbeth Hellen)
Vivan Noel - chunky knitted pillows and blankets (Mihaela Becirovic)