Meraki Handmade A Year Later
By: Ray Morgan
There’s a blissful respite from the everyday world just a short walk down Elm Street in Downtown GSO. Cross the threshold into Meraki Handmade and be transported to a place where local artists thrive, refreshing NC craft brewed beers are ready for the sampling and friendships are formed.
A year ago, Madeleine Fraher opened Meraki Handmade and is very pleased she has weathered her first year. With help from her family, she wanted to create a relaxing place where people would feel comfortable and reflected her passion for nature.
She began her journey because she had been crafting and selling her own line of jewelry and sought a venue to highlight her work. “I wanted to create a community space where artists and everyone felt welcome to express themselves, to relax and to have a good time. I also really wanted to help other women entrepreneurs and women owned businesses,” remarked Fraher. The result is a store where “quality work is available for our locals as well as visitors. I wanted to find something different, something that’s not in every other store or boutique in a shopping mall, something with individuality that’s unique and cool.” She certainly succeeded!
All of the artists are local to NC with the majority of them coming from about a two-hour radius of GSO. She is always open to talking with artists who take their work seriously and invest the time needed. As she has built up her reputation, she has more potential vendors coming to her for inclusion in her space instead of having to initiate the conversation. A quick glance across the shop will reveal a very diverse collection and yet somehow they form an ever changing, cohesive whole.
She offers NC craft brews, NC coffees, and wines so customers can relax and enjoy her oasis. “Many people who are Downtown for a theater performance will stop by during intermission or after the show. We have a lot of folks who are waiting on a seat at one of the nearby restaurants come in and enjoy a drink until their table is available,” said Fraher.
Meraki is a Greek word which means to put your heart and soul into what you make and do. Fraher has certainly done that and it shows. When asked to reflect on the last year, Fraher said, “I have been pleased by how much customers love the store and say they enjoy coming in here. They love the look and feeling. The truth is, the customers make our store better! When they come in and share how much they love what we have to offer, that’s the best thing that could happen. That’s what I was hoping to create. I’m really proud of where we are now. It’s taken a lot of hard work. I’m really excited to see where it can go from here!”
Meraki Handmade, 230 S. Elm Street, GSO and online www.MerakiHandmadeNC.com