By Emily G. Peters
The advent of Pinterest in 2008 marked a turning point in DIY (do-it-yourself) projects. Making items by hand became fashionable as well as practical, with burlap and mason jars enjoying a whole new renaissance. But not every aspiring crafter can get by solely on an internet tutorial—and that’s where Craft Sierra Madre comes in.
“I have always been an advocate for using your hands and making your own things,” said Craft Sierra Madre owner, Arianna Reel-Cook. “There is no better gift than something handmade and I love being able to teach people the ‘old-fashioned’ ways of doing things so that those skills are passed on.”
Reel-Cook’s appreciation for artistry began in Cabo San Lucas, where she spent some years as a painter with her family. Her career progressed to the craft cocktail scene in Los Angeles where she spent 15 years creating homemade bitters, syrups, even her own wine for new bars. But it was her frustration with limited access to crafting supplies that inspired her to open Craft.
“I kept saying I wished there was place to buy my supplies and make my projects so my house wasn’t a mess all the time,” said Reel-Cook. “Nothing ever felt as authentic as it did when I was painting in Cabo—so for my fortieth birthday I gifted myself a career change.”
Craft’s bright workspace (built out by Reel-Cook’s husband, Mike) is open to local artisans looking to book a location to host a meeting or workshop they’d like to offer. In addition to crafting supplies, DIY-ers can select from practical workshops in knitting, crocheting, even leather working to more decorative skills such as watercolor, calligraphy and more.
“The community aspect is so inspiring to me,” said Reel-Cook. “We have free ‘Friday Night Knits’ events where I get to hang out with my neighbors and we all help each other with our yarn projects. I love to see what everyone else’s projects are and where they get inspiration from.”
A supporter of Downtown Women’s Center, Reel-Cook is already looking for shelters where she can donate Friday Night Knit blankets and is building out a scholarship program for the kids’ classes she’s offering at Craft Sierra Madre.
“We’re only a month old, but I’ve always been a big advocate for charity work,” she said. “I always want to foster creativity and want to find ways to offer it to anyone, regardless of funds.”
As Reel-Cook adds more workshops to Craft’s roster, she hopes to help others better value the difference between something handcrafted versus manufactured overseas.
“While we live in the age of Amazon Prime, it’s refreshing to see people wanting to get back into stores, talk to people and touch real products,” she said. “Doing crafts doesn’t have to be Pinterest perfect all time—it just has to be fun!”
Craft Sierra Madre is located at 49 W. Sierra Madre Blvd. in Sierra Madre. Contact the team at www.craftsierramadre.com | 626-921-0330 and follow their latest workshops on Facebook @craftsierramadre and Instagram @craft.sm.