WAYNE — Whether it is because they are bored at home or have been doing it for years, Cabell and Wayne counties have multiple people crafting and ready to create personalized gifts for the holidays.
“When you take the time to make something from your heart for somebody, that just shows you love them and that you care for them, and that’s what we all need,” Theresa Jeffries said.
Jeffries, of Wayne County, said she began crafting years ago when she was stuck in the house with a broken ankle, but she started creating new items in September in preparation for the holiday season.
Jeffries makes a variety of items, ranging from slabs of wood painted to look like snowmen, gingerbread or others, as well as decorative pillows, wreaths and decorative jars.
She said the holiday season is about showing love and care for each other and a personalized gift can be a great way to demonstrate that love.
Melissa Fry, of Wayne County, also began crafting a while ago, but ran into one of her biggest sellers at the beginning of 2020. Fry creates shelf-sitting gnomes that can be ordered year-round, and she has also started making gnome ornaments for the holidays.
Fry uses rice, fur and various fabrics to make her gnomes, and says they are just for indoor decoration. She said she saw the idea at a craft show and loved it, and when she started making them, other people started loving them, too.
“I just knew there would be enough people that would appreciate them as something kind of quirky and fun,” Fry said. “They just take on a personality, and a lot of people have reacted quite well to them.”
Fry has also included her daughter in the making of the gnomes, saying it is a good chance for them to spend extra time together, because that is what the holidays are about.
“My daughter is 12, so she’s old enough to help me,” Fry said. “Life is busy, but we enjoy making them.”
New crafter Maddie Veilleux, of Cabell County, started crafting about a month ago, but she said her small business started from boredom.
Veilleux now makes macrame items such as tapestries, hoops and plant hangers. She also has started working on a rug for a family friend, so she said she will be able to sell those, too.
Veilleux said buying from local people gives people a chance to get a personalized gift instead of something that everyone else has.
“When you shop locally, or even from an Etsy shop, it’s so much more personal and can be personalized, and I think the customer service is just so much better,” she said. “You can get a better touch, and there’s usually more care put into whatever you’re buying.”
Fry agreed, and said the gifts can have a lot of meaning.
“I think if someone creates a product, regardless of what it is, and you are remotely interested, you should support them and support their small business,” she said. “I think it’s more meaningful than a cookie-cutter, mass-produced item.”
Destanie Neal, of Cabell County, agreed, saying personalized gifts can show that people have put a lot of thought into the gift to make sure it is just right.
“Something handmade or homemade is made from the heart,” Neal said. “It’s more personal getting a gift that can appeal to people emotionally. But if you get someone a gift basket from Walmart — sure, they are going to appreciate that, but handmade stuff is personalized just for them and it can mean more.”
Neal mainly makes home decor, with decorative books, candle holders and plaques in stock, but with the holiday season coming up and the thought of some people missing loved ones this year, she chose to add to her collection by making ornaments.
“I’ve been making memorial ornaments for people that may have lost someone this year because of COVID or just because of something else,” she said. “Not everyone is able to see their loved ones, especially elderly ones, and some people have even lost loved ones. So it can be a tough time, and I thought this was nice to maybe make something for them.”
Neal said she began crafting in the summer while she was at home trying to avoid contracting COVID-19. What started with just painting and recrafting items from thrift stores has evolved into being able to make crafts with the Cricut, a computer-controlled cutting device that can cut crafting materials
Lexi Ridenour, of Cabell County, also uses a Cricut for her crafting, but has been crafting since before high school. She has made items such as ornaments, wreaths and T-shirts, but she also takes the holiday season as an opportunity to sell baked goods.
Ridenour said she wants to have a variety of products to appeal to more people.
“I like to try lots of crafts and different things to take on just so I can say I can make that stuff,” she said. “I just like to make a whole different variety of things to offer because the more you have to offer, the more your name gets out there.”
With her typical pumpkin rolls, cheesecakes and pies, Ridenour can also make organic dog treats for people’s furry friends.
Ridenour said while she is lucky enough to not have to use her business as her sole income, she understands that some people creating goods at home do rely on that income.
“Putting money back in your community can make a difference more than people can know,” she said. “Especially now where so many people are struggling to find jobs, buying something from someone’s small business could be the difference between them eating one day or not.”
Fry, Veilleux, Neal and Ridenour all said people interested in their products can message them on their personal Facebook pages. Jeffries has a Facebook business page called Theresa Jefferies Crafts and More, and Veilleux and Neal said they are planning to make Etsy shops for their products.
They all said they are willing to mail items if people are not local, and they are thankful to anyone who supports their small businesses.