LeArt Endeavor is the newest concept store in Ferndale, Calif. Every element of this boutique storefront is gorgeously handcrafted by its owners. The salvaged vintage shutters — stained a rich red and deep gray and adorned with handmade Swarovski crystal jewelry — elegantly contrast with the thyme green walls. Stunning, yet affordable, color field paintings create a contemporary vibe, and the floor and ceiling are covered with the furniture and lighting pieces of a master craftsman. The shop is a perfect fit in this charming Victorian village in northern California that is known for its agriculture and tourism and that has been named one of the best small towns in America several years in a row.
The unique store was created by Ashley Moody and her husband, Caleb. Both are longtime artists who reside in a Ferndale farmhouse with their three children and a cat named Roomba. The couple is new to retail, having just opened at the end of February after a three-month store renovation.
Ashley, the creative force behind an internationally recognized jewelry business named Ashley Rose Designs, is the artist responsible for all the multihued Swarovski necklaces, rings, bracelets, and earrings that artfully hang from repurposed window shutters in the store.
Caleb —Ashley’s partner in life and business — is the man behind Losteel Woodcraft and LeArt Endeavor’s sophisticated yet welcoming ambiance. He designed and built the entire interior, installed new floors, painted, and built all the cabinetry and displays from reclaimed barn redwood. His handcrafted, vintage-inspired Edison light fixtures cast a soft glow around the store, a beautiful preview for how they might look in a home. In addition to the comfortable lighting, his uniquely handsome furniture designs are crafted from salvaged barn redwood, some with industrial additions like copper wiring.
This unique Ferndale California Gift Shop: LeArt Endeavor store concept is a fusion of industrial steampunk lighting and furniture, modern and elegant jewelry, color field visionary paintings, succulent arrangements, and more. The store’s tagline is “handcrafted art for the body and home.” Everything is made by Ashley, her husband, or a few other local artisans. The goal is that customers could easily outfit themselves and their entire home with goods from this shop, with each piece handmade locally.
Q&A with Ashley Moody of Le Art Endeavor
Smart Retailer (SR): You’re new to retail. What is the biggest challenge that you face?
Le Art Endeavor (LE): One of the biggest challenges, which I never anticipated, is dealing with time management while I’m here in the store. I have an extra-large counter where I make my jewelry while I’m here manning the store, which is great, because customers, especially tourists, love to watch me create the designs I sell. That being said, it can be hard to devote my brain space to creating when I’m also entertaining and giving directions and town history.
(SR): What is your favorite part about being a store owner?
(LE): My favorite thing about the store, and the basis of our original dream, was to sell what we make. Not what we buy or import, but what we make, as a couple, with our own hands.
(SR): Where did you get the desire to start your own retail store?
(LE): I started making jewelry as a child, and my talents and materials got better — and I started selling wholesale about 10 years ago. I literally had no idea what I was doing, and it was a near-constant flow of trial and error, but I now have approximately 200 retail locations that carry my designs, and I still make everything myself, using sterling silver and Swarovski elements.
(SR): Tell us more about your location. What makes it special?
(LE): Humboldt County, where Ferndale is located, is a huge artist mecca, and our county has more artists per capita than almost anywhere. And what I love about our store, and what sets us apart, is that we make everything we sell. We originally started with selling products made by other local vendors, but have decided that it’s important for our design and production to be totally in-house so we can control the quality of everything we make.
(SR): If someone gave you $10,000 to invest in your business, what would you do with it?
(LE): If I was given $10,000 to invest in the store, I would use it for advertising. We no longer live in a “if you build it, they will come” culture. Brick and mortar stores have severe competition with online retailers, so advertising properly is crucial to bring people to you, so they can see the benefit of shopping in person and supporting local shops and handmade.
(SR): What is on the horizon for your business that you’re excited about?
(LE): In addition to my jewelry, I’m also a mixed-media artist and abstract painter. Caleb and I are currently working on some furniture pieces for the store that incorporate my resin-coated paintings and his redwood bases. Think coffee or end tables! It’s what I’m really excited about right now.
(SR): How do you approach customer service?
(LE): As an independent business owner, I think it’s important to mention that I’m not only an artist. I’m also a business person. Customer service is a top priority for me. I don’t just want to earn a customer’s business, but keep it by providing great products and complete customer satisfaction. If there is ever a problem with an item, I fix it. If a customer is unhappy, I’ll do my best to rectify the situation.
(SR): What is your number one goal as a business owner?
(LE): My goal as a jewelry designer and business owner is to provide beautiful, creative jewelry to customers who appreciate handmade, excellent quality. I don’t follow the trends. What is in style today will most certainly be out by next week. My collection is made up of pieces that speak of timeless elegance and classic taste that will be worn for years to come.
(SR): What really drives you?
(LE): Being creative is what drives us. Making, playing, and creating with crystals, glitter, wood, and paint… it’s what keeps us alive!
Ferndale California Gift Shop: LeArt Endeavor Facts at a Glance
Location: 580 Main Street , Ferndale, CA 95536