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Art, Culture, Fashion + good times at RVA's ARTisan Cafe - Summer 2013 Edition

By Janel St. John

It was my very first time attending the ARTisan Cafe, Richmond Virginia's (RVA's) coolest meeting place for creatives and consumers. But it was also my last. Well, at least in that form. Since it's inception, founders Melody J. Short and Adrienne Cole have held the event, which features local artisans and entrepreneurs, at various venues around the city. Now, the traveling Cafe will have a permanent home - at Stony Point Fashion Park. How cool is that?

The Summer 2013 edition, recently held at the Observation Deck at City Hall, did not disappoint. First of all, the venue was quite a visual feast. The 13th floor of the seat of city government has a 360-degree view overlooking downtown Richmond and thus creating a virtual 'party in the sky.' This was also my first visit to the Deck. But hey, I'm not from Richmond, so many things are still new to me. Over the course of the evening, over 250 fashionistas, friends and family gathered to support the 30 artists and purchase their unique hand-crafted goods. The eclectic mix of art, interiors, fashion, jewelry, music, gifts, food and wine, was a multi-sensory delight. It was also very empowering. As I perused the aisles and talked with the vendors, I became inspired by their talent, tenacity and stories of triumph.

Alex Lawrence was so moved by the story of Henry 'Box' Brown, the slave who hid in a box and shipped himself to freedom, that he named his company, Box Brown Imports. Lawrence sells men's shaving and grooming supplies. Tierra McLaurin, founded Sneaker Pheenz, and is on a mission to open the very first female-owned sneaker store in Richmond. While the Cafe has become known as the place for wares infused with Black culture, it has also become a melting pot for all artists, simply looking for buyers, not specific to any culture.

More than an event, the Cafe is a powerful network of burgeoning business owners in need of exposure and a consumer base that is hungry for their products. So the transition into a permanent 4,600 square-foot upscale space at Stony Point is not only an appropriate setting for the ARTisan Cafe, it's also a major win for both sides. Perhaps the Summer '13 'party in the sky' was merely a forecast of where this smart venture is headed. Short and Cole...two thumbs...way up! See you at the August 15th grand opening!

Television, film and beauty icon, Daphne Maxwell Reid (above) was on hand to promote her book Doors. Reid, also a photographer, compiled the images she captured while traveling the globe.

Adrienne Cole (above) and her little bundle of joy. Cole is one half of the ARTisan Cafe founding team, which also includes Melody Joy Short.


Visit Cafe Official site.