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Detroit stores open to artists who couldn't sell their work during the pandemic

Chanel Stitt, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Fashion Daily News

DETROIT — When all of the art fairs and showcases were canceled during the coronavirus pandemic, three Detroit women decided to create the Leaf and Blossom store, which serves as a space for artists to sell their artwork and products.

Mother and daughter Lillian Li and Victoria Li, both of Grosse Pointe Shores, along with their friend, Maggie Mazzara, of Grosse Pointe Woods, are all local artists. They opened Leaf and Blossom, which also is a place for the public to participate in art classes. In the store, you can find anything from handmade birdhouses to photography, and even get a tarot card reading while you're there.

"I kind of figured — well, what if I do something that I like to do and have my own store," said Victoria Li. "I originally was just going to sell tea, since I was a tea blender. But then we came across Maggie, and Maggie introduced the art part of it as well. So it just became this giant store idea of helping other artists promote their art and also help them push forward in this really difficult time."

There are 26 other artists who sell their work in the store. The owners say the bright green space brings in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan and Detroit residents, since the space is near the two cities.

"It was the perfect fit for our neighborhood," said Lillian Li. "It was so important to make sure that we engage the artists in the community to be a part of our store."

They also expanded outdoors and started a community garden for children.

 

"We want children to be engaged in art and I feel like art is this lost thing in schools," said Lillian Li. "For us, we feel art is an essential part of somebody's growth as a person. ... It was a matter of making sure kids knew that art is something that comes in all different realms that they can enjoy."

Like many other businesses in recent weeks, Leaf and Blossom experienced flooding, which has created a few struggles. But they're still pushing forward to support the artists who sell their work in the space.

Even though art fairs and showcases are returning, like the Ann Arbor Art Fairs, which took place last weekend, the effort put into working at the fairs is a lot to Dustin Waldo of Harper Woods, an artist who sells his artwork in Leaf and Blossom.

"When you do an art or craft show at a location ...," said Waldo, "first, you've got to pay like $100. You've got to come with your own tent, your own table and your own chairs. And you're kind of committed to stay there because you can't leave until the event is over."

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