Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Freckled Frog

Support Arkansas Artists

Erika and Sadie

The Freckled Frog - Sadie Nuffer's and Erika Robbins' charming shop in Hillcrest, supports the work of 57 Arkansas artists and crafts folk making hip, fun, whimsical, original, affordable, smart art.

"That's a lot of people," Ms. Nuffer said. "We started with eight other people besides ourselves, so we have grown quite a bit."

The two women had been making their own crafts for years when they opened a shop in the Heights in October 2009.

"Everybody thought we were crazy opening a store in a closet," Ms. Robbins said of the 12 x 25 foot Heights' shop.

But by March 2010, when they moved to a larger, light-filled space inside River City Coffee, Tea and Cream in Hillcrest, they were representing the work of 22 Arkansas artists.

"We've been doing really good. It's almost three times the space here," Sadie said.

"Oh, the shop is doing wonderfully in Hillcrest," Erika said. "Having our window that close to the street is great, and the neighborhood is really digging what we're doing."

The shop only sells work by Arkansans.

"We've got a little bit of everything - tee shirts, scarves, hats, apparel, and a lot of really interesting jewelry," Erika said.

Sadie and Erika met at the Farmers' Market in the River Market and became fast friends.

Sadie has been making jewelry and other crafts since 2001. "I was recently divorced and wanted to stay home with my sons, Damon and Jake.

"My parents were farmers at the Farmers' Market. I would help them out and put out a few of my things."

"I do a lot of recycled items out of old vinyl records. There are two sizes of cuff bracelets ($7 to $10) and earrings ($10)."

Sadie uses upholstery samples to make patchwork messenger bags, which are European-style shoulder bags. She makes patchwork skirts, pants and shorts too. Her hemp jewelry ranges from $3 to $8 and includes necklaces, bracelets and anklets.

Now she's making really neat leather flower hair clips with buttons as the middle of the flower. They range from $8 to $15. "I use leather furniture samples that were going to be thrown away. So it's close to a free supply of materials.

"Erika calls me 'the queen of repurposing.' I'm always doing something new with things like buttons and bottle caps. My parents were hippies. They are organic farmers, The Nuffers ... That's where my love of repurposing comes in."

Erika had a serendipitous entry into jewelry making. She was working an at insurance company when she bought a new suit and wanted to find the perfect big, chunky aquamarine necklace to go with it. But luckily, she found aquamarine nugget beads on eBay and made one herself - at quite a cost savings. Later she began making Christmas and birthday gifts for friends. And then, creating for the fun of creating.

"I got quite an inventory built up. So I took them to the Farmers Market. That's where I met Sadie, and we were instant friends, and we started doing different shows - craft fairs and music shows."

Sadie and Erika participated in craft shows and festivals for years and met other Arkansans who needed a place to show their work in the winter. Both women knew they eventually wanted a shop, and each was amused to learn that the other had been collecting and storing shelves too in anticipation.

They found a tiny space on the side of a restaurant in the Heights, and some of their fellow artists trusted them with their work and allowed them to build up their inventory. From the beginning, their shop carried Matt Abbott's Nativ tees and Ron Locke's LockStar soy candles.

And Jerry Hamilton's wire-wrapped jewelry. Mr. Hamilton cuts and polishes all kinds of gem stones for his jewelry, incorporates antique buttons and even employs old-fashioned typewriter keys in clever pieces. "He's an all-around talented guy," Ericka said.

Sadie said they just got in Mr. Abbott's fall line of long sleeved shirts with Arkansas themes. (They are wearing his tees in our cover photo.) Mr. Locke's candles are made to burn soot free and have lead-free wicks.

You will find items at The Freckled Frog that are sold nowhere else.

"I think that what folks like, because we're different," Erika said. "Everybody around here is just so talented, and its just so neat to be able to provide an outlet for their work. Most stores are corporate retailers, and they can't do something like that."

Not only are the wares unique, the prices are rare too.

"The most fun thing about our shop is that we have items for $3, and we have a ton of $5 things," Sadie said.

Another thing you'll enjoy is Erika's wire wrapping on the spot, Sadie said.

Customers can pick out their own stones or beads and have Erika make them a piece instantly.
Some people like to bring in coins, rocks, or items that have sentimental value and have them incorporated into a piece, Erika said. She also likes the challenge of duplicating pieces. Just bring her a magazine clipping and watch her do her magic - for a fraction of the cost.

"Most of the things I do on the spot. If I don't do it while you're in the store, it will take a while. If I do it while you're here, it could be five to 20 minutes."

When it's time to do your holiday shopping, have some fun. Visit The Freckled Frog and enjoy the laid-back, super-pleasant, pet-friendly atmosphere. Visit with Delilah, the dear wee shop dog who captivates everyone's heart. Best of all, spend $25 and cross off half your list!

The Freckled Frog is located at 2715 Kavanaugh Boulevard. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday. 514-2060.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sadie Nuffer Profile

Sadie Nuffer

Tell us about your family. My boys are great - A, B students, most of the times straight As. We have a small farm ourselves. We kind of take after my folks, Rusty and Sue Nuffer. They live in the mountains north of Morrilton surrounded by National Forest. That's where I grew up, and I love it. My boys (Damon, 14, and Jake, 11) like to go up there and go hunting with them. So, we are outdoorsy people. My finance's name is Granger Roberts.

Where were you born? On the farm. It was the community of Lost Corners. Jerusalem is the post office address now.

What do you do in your spare time? Playing in my garden would be my fun time.

Where do you live? Vilonia. I have a vegetable garden and a berry garden and two little miniature goats.

What's your favorite Little Rock restaurant? Cafe Bossa Nova (on Kavanaugh in Hillcrest) is one of my favorite places to eat. That and Boulevard.

Is there anything you'd like to learn how to do? Yes, I'd like to learn how to blow glass.

Do you support any charities? Arkansas Earth Day.

Do you have any pets? I have three cats, a chocolate lab, the two goats, which are pets, and, oh, like 15 fish. We have two fish tanks.

What would you do if you won a large lottery? I would pay all debts off and teach people how to garden - how to be more self-sustainable and grow your own food. And hire someone to run The Freckled Frog.

What's your favorite food? Anything Mexican.

What kind of music do you like? I like a wide assortment. I like blue grass and jam bands a lot.

Is there anything you'd like to see the nation do differently? Get a little more grounded and down to earth.


Erika Robbins Profile

Erika Robbins

Tell us about your family. Erika said her mom and dad, who had encouraged her creativity and work, passed away in 2008 before The Freckled Frog opened. "I really hate that they didn't get to see me take advantage of it."

Where were you born? Chattanooga.

What is your favorite Little Rock restaurant? Cantina Laredo (in midtown). I love Mexican food passionately. I could eat it every day.

Is there anything you would like to learn how to do? Casting precious metal.

What do you do in your spare time? "I hula hoop. If I can't sleep, I'll go out at 4 o'clock at night and hula hoop. I've got my neighbors doing it too."

Do you have any pets? Delilah, my chihuahua.

Where do you live? I have a house in the Heights that I put up for rent and moved to the Valley View Apartments in Hillcrest. I absolutely love this neighborhood. It's a little self-contained area, and it's wonderful. I never have to get in the car.

Do you support any charities? The Pulaski County Humane Society. It's very important. We love critters.

What kind of music do you like to listen to? I like a little bit of everything other than pop country; I like old country, rock, jazz, rap.

What is the strangest thing in your refrigerator? An insane amount of Haribo gummy bears and blue Gatorade. I live off those things.

Is there anything you'd like to see Little Rock do differently? Yes, I would like to see the streets taken care of better. In our little neighborhood park, the grass has not been mowed in a year ... things are not taken care of like they were five years ago.

What would you do if you won a large lottery? I want an island and a helicopter. I'd set me and my friends up on our own little island with a helicopter. I think that would be paradise. And, of course, we'd still have The Freckled Frog.