By Valerie Lofton
As our beautiful beaches in the panhandle of Florida grow, I find one of the most exciting things is seeing opportunities to watch folks with new creative ideas put themselves out there in the public and hope to grow something that others will like; something that will support their own families and be a positive addition to our community.
The Marketplace by TGH is one of these new opportunities, started as an idea for a small business. The Georgia Hammer, an engraving business, turned this into a multi vendor spot to share the opportunity with 34+ more small businesses.
Three of us highlighted in this article are friends, crossing paths in previous years. The opportunity to share in the multivendor shop was presented to us last spring and we all decided to join the fun!
Who are we and what do we love to do?
Stephenie Brown is a Florida native, Air Force veteran, as well as the creator, artist and owner of Jewelfish, a shop with unique beach totes for everyday life or weekend fun. A few other accessories included are market totes, crossbody bags, clutch purses and cosmetic bags.
“I started making totes around 2004 for family and friends as gifts. Jewelfish was established in 2019 when my husband encouraged me to take the jump and start my own business. I love to discover fabrics that inspire and feel fun. One of my favorite quotes: ‘Creativity takes courage,’ by Henri Matisse.”
Finding a good tote at the beginning of each spring season is a NECESSITY especially when you live near the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches. Find out more at Jewelfishtotes.com and Etsy (jewelfishtotes).
Denise Schmidt, The Charming Sister, is a creative jewelry designer and makes all her bracelets, earrings and necklaces at home. Designed to be worn for every day, weddings, girls night or date night with your favorite person, you’ll surely find something that fits YOU.
Denise just added a baby line complete with pacifier clips and rattles, a must have for any new baby! You may have already seen some of her items in local shops such as The Blue Giraffe, and can find her items for sale in her Etsy shop (thebeadedsister).
Valerie Lofton is the owner and creator of Sea Turtle Hearts, a business grown from my love of the beach, oceans and retail. “I’ve always had a passion for art and nature since my youth,” she says. “For the last 20+ years, I’ve been a volunteer and area coordinator for South Walton Turtle Watch. One winter, I designed a sea turtle and put it on a few t-shirts. Sales exploded! I began putting designs on hats, cups, reusable bottles, hoodies, etc. I opened an online Etsy shop (seaturtlehearts) and began selling at many festivals in our state, as well as out of state.”
This past year, she’s added hand-cut, hand-painted yo-yos to her store, a collaboration with her husband, who is a woodworker. Valerie explains, “My idea is to get our youth off of electronic devices and ‘excite your brainpower!’ I like using this area of my life to teach and encourage, not only about nature, but how you can be the best God created you to be! Genesis 1:20 Day 5.”