Creations brings local makers together for a bohemian vibe
By Annika Tomlin
“Shop Local” means something special to Tucson-based Creations Boutique.
Olivia Verma Smith’s family features its Angie Brand throughout the store, the latest of which opened at Desert Ridge Marketplace. Dubbed the “boutique in the desert,” Creations is peppered with locally made candles, artists and creators.
“Many things that are developed by local makers, like our main candles, are produced here in Arizona,” Verma Smith says. “We are always trying to find creative people, creative makers here in the community to showcase their brands and products alongside the Angie Brand.”
Family run since its founding in 1971, Creations Brand is finding its niche at Desert Ridge.
“We like the Desert Ridge as an outdoor mall, and that community in North Phoenix is very family oriented,” Verma Smith says. “The community was really a good fit for what we sell.”
Creations Boutique exudes a modern desert vibe. Angie Brand features bohemian flare styles made from Arizona designers.
“The fact that our designers are here in Arizona helps us stay very connected to our community,” she says.
Desert Ridge is Creations Boutique’s sixth store, and like the others, it is decorated by local artists. The others are in Tucson, Tempe Marketplace and San Diego.
“The fixtures in the store are what set us apart from a lot of the national retailers, because most of the fixtures are handcrafted in Tucson,” Verma Smith says. “Many of the materials that we use are reclaimed, say, from a historic building before they are torn down. We really try to stay very authentic to the materials of our community.”
Verma Smith says customers remark that their stores look like “a gallery or an art installation.”
“We hold events where we partner with a local artist and we showcase some of their creations in our store,” she says. “We are hopeful that once this pandemic goes down, we can go back to hosting parties for the community in our stores and having a local DJ come in and spin or there is a local artist or stationer to come in and create greeting cards.”
Opening a new location during the COVID-19 pandemic was easy because it is locally owned and operated.
“As soon as the governor permitted retailers to open in May, we knew first because we’re here on the ground versus some of the big national guys who are trying to respond to all of the policy changes and all of the communities around the country,” she says.
“The North Valley community was supportive of us, and I think we filled the need right away, especially for a lot of folks from Northern Arizona, middle of Arizona and in the mountains. They drive down from their rural areas and at that point they really need supplies, and a lot of national retailers were still shut down all the way through mid-May.”
Verma Smith was happy the store could open, but it still struggled to keep up with the health needs, sanitation and safety measures.
“We are constantly navigating all of these changes in policy and trying to stay on top of everything to keep everyone safe and considerate of the community as possible and still provide a need for the community,” she says.
That said, one of the must-have items at Creations is the locally made face masks. She says local makers cut and sew the fabric, which is rewarding.
“We have been making clothing in Arizona since the early ’70s, and so we have quite a bit of vintage (clothing); and some of the items in our warehouse have some rips or damages, so we have been converting or upcycling these beautiful vintage garments into face masks,” she says.
Other pandemic bestsellers are the basics: camisoles, T-shirts and sweatpants.
“All of the comfy clothes that people need just to refresh their wardrobe and stay comfortable,” Verma Smith says.
Desert Ridge Marketplace
21001 N. Tatum Boulevard, Phoenix
2000 E. Rio Salado Parkway,
Suite 1246, Tempe
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