Children's garden to sprout in downtown courtyard

Vancouver woman sees it as extension of clothing business

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

Published:

 

The Little Garden Studio

Email: fleuranddot@gmail...

Phone: 360-903-5350.

Web: www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-little-garden-studio-children-s-community-garden-and-art-center

Brianne Wallace took one look at a vacant downtown courtyard, once a transit station, and saw the potential for something beautiful.

She decided last fall to lease the building and adjoining courtyard at 108 E. Seventh St. in order to grow her children's clothing business, Fleur + Dot, which had been in The Academy. A seamstress of children's clothing, Wallace saw in the courtyard a possibility to fulfill her company's vision of a "handmade childhood."

"I wasn't looking for garden space," Wallace said. "(But) I knew I wanted to turn it into a children's garden and event space." With her sewing studio next door, Wallace said the 4,500 square-foot brick courtyard "just seemed like a natural expansion."

But Wallace doesn't want to go it alone. She's launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise up to $10,000 for what she is calling The Little Garden Studio.

Wallace, who is 31, is a relative newcomer to sewing and to business ownership. She was laid off from a nonprofit in 2010. Her side project as a seamstress turned into a business. Her theme is to help families find a better quality of life through simple activities and products.

She loves her new business location because of its proximity to Esther Short Park, which hosts the Vancouver Farmers Market, and the Vancover Community Library. Each offers opportunities for vital connections," the Farmers Market to makers of local products and the library to children, who she hopes will engage in the homegrown activities she aims to offer at The Little Garden Studio.

"I want the community to get involved," said Wallace, who was raised in Vancouver.

To that end, Wallace is seeking support from friends and volunteers to build and plant garden beds; provide soil, plants, planters and pots; and to donate children's books and art supplies. She'd love to find people who want to teach art or gardening classes to children. And Wallace is looking for makers of handmade goods in the areas of children, garden, home, art or education to sell on consignment at the outdoor studio.

Adding to her font of ideas and energy, Wallace also is asking people to bring "gently used clothes' to Spanky's consignment store for donation to the "The Little Garden Studio" account. Money raised from sale of those clothes will benefit the garden.

The work of turning the long-vacant space into something beautiful begins in earnest this weekend. Wallace and others will be preparing gardening beds for the spring growing season that's just around the corner.