If you’re looking for a creative way to spend the holidays in 2020, Fort Wayne’s creative community is developing solutions.
There are many innovative ways you can spend time with your household or stay busy yourself—even if you can’t partake in traditional holiday activities.
One entrepreneur crafting fun ways to help Fort Wayne beat the boredom this winter is Julie Wall, the Owner of The Hedge, a small business and printing press shop downtown that sells handmade jewelry, crafting workshops, housewares, cards, and other unique items.
Wall attributes her creative business today, in part, to her upbringing in Fort Wayne. She went to Weisser Park Elementary, which is a fine art magnet school that inspired her to pursue an art career. She occasionally returns to her alma mater with ideas and projects for the kids.
Coming from a family of small business owners, Wall established The Hedge as a fine art print shop in 2013, utilizing her bachelor’s degree in fine arts and printmaking. Over the years, her business, which has a storefront studio on Broadway, has focused on the in-shop experience of browsing handmade goods or offering letterpress services, workshops, engraving, calligraphy, and more. But Wall says that COVID-19 has caused her—like so many other small businesses across the U.S.—to rethink her model.
The Hedge studio is located at 1016 Broadway in downtown Fort Wayne.
For instance, Wall says The Hedge’s main print product in the past has been wedding invitations. But this stream of revenue dried up when the pandemic pushed back wedding plans for many Indiana couples. The Hedge’s craft classes also took a hit as large gatherings were no longer permitted. On top of that, art markets were canceled, creating fewer opportunities for her to share The Hedge’s crafts with regional and national consumers.
Despite these setbacks, Wall has found new ways to engage with the community. While Fort Wayne residents are stuck inside this winter, she has curated an assortment of Workshops at Home on her website, offering prepackaged kits she will ship directly to you. Many of the workshops offer a modern spin on crafting that will appeal to youth (ages 10+) and adults alike, Wall says. So far, the list includes: a floating embroidery/needlepoint kit, a japanese stab binding kit, a faux leather mini clutch kit, and a linoleum printing kit.
One craft The Hedge is offering in 2020 is a Linoleum Printing workshop.
As the long winter of 2020 continues, Walls says she plans to create more advanced workshops to offer a more in-depth crafting opportunity and keep residents busy. But her workshops are not the only creative accommodation that COVID-19 has inspired at The Hedge. Like many small business owners, she has acquired the skills to shift her presence online versus in-store. She has updated her website tenfold by bringing her shop mostly online and creating video tutorials for her workshops.
After learning to take proper photographs of products and to create videos, she says The Hedge’s website is now a fully functioning online shop. A faux leather mini clutch at-home workshop by The Hedge.
Along with crafting, another way Wall escapes reality is by utilizing the trails in Fort Wayne, she wants to encourage everyone to get outside on the scarce sunny days that Fort Wayne is lucky enough to have this winter. She also encourages shoppers to buy local this winter in hopes of supporting the small business owners that make Fort Wayne unique.
She says being creative is not only beneficial for kids, it can be beneficial for adults and businesses, as well, in surviving a pandemic.
“With all of the world’s turmoil going on, being able to take some time for yourself to do something that is still productive, using your hands, using your brain—it is like a meditation process that we're unaware of until we're done, and then it feels so good,” Wall says. “I think we all need a little break from reality right now.”