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Inspired Designs from a Variety of Cary-area Artisans

Local makers share their art, their passions, and their processes in celebration of creativity

Dara Page: New Kid on the Block

Dara Page of HausPage Designs describes her line as luxury-tomboy Carolina fashion, and took her inspiration for the Warrior Queen line from her mother. Co-owners with her husband, Dara serves to dress women in amazing clothing on their journey to success, whatever that journey looks like. As she crafts, Dara watches the big names of the twentieth century and previous generations retire, making way for new talents to rise up. 

Believing women deserve recognition, she celebrates their courage for picking second chapters of their lives. Technology continues to evolve with fashion, and Dara incorporates new fabrics, excited about how they expand her creativity. North Carolina has a textile-rich history, and she honors both the good and bad parts of it.

A member of the American Sewing Guild’s local chapter, she writes about recent developments and changes in the fashion world. She encourages consumers to “have fun [with fashion], and bring fire and grind to the game.” Incorporating sewable metals and tear-resistant materials into her clothing comes from her enthusiasm for the industry's manufacturing and textile side. New blood or old hands, everyone has something to give as fashions ‘new kids’.

Kelly Shatat’s Journey From Pharmacist to Jewelry Designer and Boutique Owner

While working as a pharmacist, Kelly Shatat fulfilled her drive to create through making jewelry. She sold her first pieces at a holiday crafters’ show in Greenville, NC, receiving inquiries by boutique owners to put her designs in their storefronts. 

Travelling the Carolinas developed her brand through relationships with brick-and-mortar stores and hosting trunk shows. At each step, she opened accounts to sell her designs and expand her brand. Coming home, she continued crafting jewelry out of her home, until growth pushed her production into a studio.

A hand-tied pearl necklace became her first, most popular design. Her art evolved along the way, adding interchangeable options, then other products such as filigree earrings, vintage-inspired bracelets and necklaces, and finally her signature item: a necklace with a monogram crafted from acrylic. Unlike any other item on the market at the time, it offered customization from among 32 colors.

Lucky Magazine and Oprah’s Favorite Things have featured Kelly’s designs, leading to national brand recognition. Visit Kelly at Moon and Lola’s storefront in historic downtown Apex – she might be in her studio just upstairs from the shop, crafting more of her original designs.

Zankhna Parekh & Trailblazing Fashion for Women

As with many artisans and makers, Zankhna Parekh began not with fashion but another mainline career path: physical therapy. Returning to her first passion, she then began designing clothing to celebrate the ability of women to blaze new trails in their aspirations to break glass ceilings. Self-training in design, Zaftan by Zankhna Designs was born. Her modern take on the kaftan exudes elegance and effortless style through intricate hand embroidery and pure silk materials.

Through Fashion her multi-national appeal has become a go-to across generations X, Y, and Z. And in addition to dressing celebrities and actresses, Zankhna pursues paying fair wages, ethical trade, and recycling form the foundation of the company, with a deep-seated dedication to acting in a socially-conscious, pro-green manner. Fashion shows include a tribute to high-achieving women in the community to celebrate their accomplishments.

For the modern woman, Zankhna offers an alternative in clothing which empowers real-life role models, considering it “an absolute privilege to dress everyday heroes who deserve recognition.” In the middle of designing, she continues to travel the world, contributing with nonprofit work and providing free medical care to those in need.

John Higdon: Uninhibited Creativity for your Garden

John Higdon of City Garden Design takes inspiration from the freedom to create, based on what customers want. Specializing in landscape design, he translates their needs into a garden which fits their lifestyle. With a degree in horticulture as his foundation, he knew he had the knowledge to succeed and built his services based on what customers requested. A job loss following twenty years as an installer and landscape designer prompted him to open his own business.

Stonework, patios, window boxes, balconies – he designs them all and designs and believes that “art should inspire you, but also bring out your personality in your choice of art”. Design should act as a creation in itself, but also offer an artful solution to a functional need. John’s wife Paula is his buyer and concentrates on the operations and marketing side.

From terrariums to landscapes, John and Paula can assist with interior and exterior spaces with  outside-the-box concepts. Adding plants transforms the space, giving a warm and restorative ambience. Visit their boutique showroom in downtown Cary, and find works by other artisans as well.

A Communal Space for Creatives with Laura Gerenser

A life-long lover of arts, Laura Gerenser began her entrepreneurial journey as a child, making and selling crafts to her elementary school classmates. Alongside her mother’s watercolors – from whom she received the crafting gene – she began to sell original jewelry at farmer’s markets. Fast-forward to adulthood, marriage, children, and a move to North Carolina, she came back to her entrepreneurship dreams and opened her own brick-and-mortar, Adventures in Bloom in Cary.

Desiring to combine art with community, she leapt into business ownership. Laura’s dream, in addition to hosting metal stamping classes to make personalized jewelry, includes a communal table space for makers to sit and share, while creating their art. She believes her store proves there’s never a right time for any beginning, but “there’s always another adventure and opportunity to bloom around the corner.”

Her store also exhibits about 30 other local artisans' work, but she thrives on the collaboration aspect. The differences in crafting styles and products, but also the mindsets that grow makers into businesspeople. Those looking for unique gifts will find an accessible price-point, making hand-crafted items available for more than just special occasions.

Jennifer Flannigan: Haircolorist to Abstract Painter

Jennifer Flannigan of Jennifer Flannigan Art moved to the Triangle from Tampa and has watched Cary transform over time. Beginning her career as a hairstylist, she then transitioned into using paint and color as her medium to create. Looking to spontaneity of style and different hues, she evokes an organic and visual expression of emotion. Using her expertise with color, she developed her own style and palette, finding her voice in an adventurous combination of colors and textures.

Creating is a choice, she believes, a place where she discovers freedom and satisfaction through the process, from the synergism of making numerous pieces at once. Using a combination of building and destroying layers, she reveals hidden shapes and brings out rich textures – all of which results in what she calls “ordered chaos of abstract design and emotional content.”

Living with her husband Garth and cats, Ruckus and Zoso, she is currently perfecting cooking the Greek food she grew up enjoying. A love for travel took her to Florence, Italy, highlights being seeing art and sculptures like the David in person. Featured on HGTV and numerous magazines, Jennifer continues to take commission work, creating original compositions for designers and collectors across nationwide.

Transforming the Unexpected into Fashionable Self-Expression with Stephen Allen

A naturally creative individual, Stephen Allen looked to different outlets for expression, from music to art and interior design. However, fashion became the medium through which he found the most freedom as a maker. Inspiration comes through many sources, but especially through touching the fabrics and following the direction his intuition takes.

Recently, Stephen embraced the challenge of manipulating leather into something beautiful. Laying aside the expected shoes or handbags, he works them into beautiful dresses for the fashion-forward, trend-conscious consumer. He aims to bring attention to someone in the public eye with a one-of-a-kind designer outfit, or an everyday person with a high level of self-expression through unique pieces of wearable art.

From thrift stores, Stephen purchased and repurposed items, deconstructing them to learn pattern-making. He then progressed to quilt-making from old denim, then jackets and dresses, believing art and design should become the means by which we express ourselves.

In Stephen’s words, he loves to create something no one has ever created before using fabrics not traditionally used for making clothes. A dedication to pushing his boundaries through fashion comes through his favorite quote: “the words I can’t should never be in your vocabulary.”

Hand-Crafted North Carolina-Made Rugs from Ally-Catherine Trenary

Launched in 2018, June St. George by Ally-Catherine Trenary creates custom rug collections, hand-crafted in North Carolina. Ally-Catherine takes her inspiration from her world travels, most notable from England, deriving part of the company name from the country’s patron, St. George. Believed to have become popular in Richard III’s time, St. George’s emblem eventually became the English flag.

Ally-Catherine simplifies the customization process in her five-step method, giving clients the power to choose each element, even monograms. From patterns to materials, colors, and personalization, clients have autonomy for a one-of-a-kind rug which matches their space. Then she hand-crafts each product, applying her extensive background in interior design.

Although she has added pillows as well, rugs, she believes, “define a space, add warmth and comfort, and enhance our décor.” Rugs create the foundation for the rest of the room’s furnishings and style, and she aims to craft heirloom rugs which will serve more than one generation.

From Barbie to the Runway: Hairstyling by Amanda Kimball

Beginning at age 4, Amanda Kimball – now with Twisted Scissors Salon in Cary – began cutting hair on her dolls, then quickly progressed to assisting friends and relatives with their hairstyles. Changing their look brought out their inner beauty, which inspired her creativity. 

Her entrepreneurial spirit led the way, and she opened her own salon. For the past six years, Amanda Kimball has delivered professional hair and salon services, providing customers with trend-setting styles based on modern cutting techniques. From glam haircuts to color, perms or relaxers, special event up-dos, Twisted Scissors offers a full range of hair care and styling. Amanda has had the privilege of styling for runway shows and also for the 2016 Miss World pageant in Washington, D.C. 

A dedicated member of many local organizations, she supports teaching others the craft and being connected to other business owners in the area. A tattoo on her arm reads Pay It Forward, the driving mentality for her ambition to give back to the community through her art. In Amanda’s words, she views her opportunity to teach others as a way of “spreading my love for the industry, which fuels my creativity and growth as a stylist.”

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