Photos by Dave Koen
We Denton Do It had the chance to catch up with our friends over at DIME (Denton Independent Maker Exchange) before their big store opening next week. Owner Rachel Aughtry answered lots of our questions about creativity, local business ownership and Denton in general. Read on for more!
Tell us a little more about DIME (Denton Independent Maker Exchange).
DIME is all about building the community of local handmade artists through connections—both with folks that want to buy their work and with other artists. The social aspect between maker and buyer, as well as maker and maker, is totally inspiring and encouraging. We want the store to give more consistency and presence to that community.
has Denton helped influence you creatively?
Denton really gave me the courage to pursue my own art as a full time career. I moved to Denton with every intention to go to school, get my degree, and move away to work for a corporate company, hopefully doing something design related. When I was a little UNT freshman, I put a few of my handmade bags for sale at Art Six – Tommy called me three days later and asked me to bring more because they were selling so well. The positive feedback I got from Denton folks at that little coffee shop gave me the confidence to start an Etsy shop, do the Denton Community Market, apply to big, prestigious craft fairs in Dallas and Austin, start Etsy Denton, and make my creative work my full-time job post graduation. (Hey thanks, Dentonites!)
You were a big part of starting the Etsy Denton Craft Fairs – tell us about how that got started, and how it lead you to creating DIME.
For sure! I never get tired of this question, as it is a true testament to the awesome creative community and spirit in Denton. When the Denton Community Market started in 2010, it was just once a month, so the same vendors were there each month and became a little family. Myself and Shelley Christner were among those vendors. We had done a few creative projects together prior selling our creative wares at the Market, but our friendship really grew that first market season.
As the season ended, all the vendors were a little sad to lose this great community we had developed, so Shelley and I formed Etsy Denton to continue and expand that community. We originally intended Etsy Denton to just be about local Etsy sellers being friends and hanging out, but at our first event we ended up sitting around and talking about how we should all do a craft show together. A few months later we did a barn sale in Shelley’s barn. Much to our surprise, people actually came to it. And they bought things. It was weird. After that, we started renting out the Center for Visual Arts for our now-massive Summer Bazaar and Handmade Harvest.
Last fall, Shelley and I decided that, due to the success of the shows, it was time to open up some sort of space for Etsy Denton. We changed the name to DIME (the Denton Independent Maker Exchange) to create our own identity (and to not infringe upon the Etsy trademark), and set about finding a space to house the DIME Store.
Have you felt like you’ve found a pretty creative support system in Denton? Is having a creative community something you place importance on?
Our creative community is everything. And what Etsy Denton/DIME has done in a mere three years could not have happened in a less awesome community. Every time we do any sort of event, so many of our artists email us asking what they can do to help us. And when we announced the opening of the DIME Store, pretty much all of our artists asked what they could do to help or let us know that if we ever needed an extra person working the counter, they would be there 100%. And it’s not just our amazing, talented artists, either.
What we do wouldn’t be possible without the 2500+ Denton folks that come shop at our shows and buy from Denton artists. When we were planning the Handmade Harvest last year, we actually had to turn volunteers away because we had so many people offer to help make the day a success. The community of both artists and their supports is just absolutely amazing.
Did you have any trouble getting DIME open?
Anyone who owns a business in Denton will be the first to tell you that there are some silly rules on the books, whether at the federal, state, or city level. Making sure all the legal ducks are in their rows so that you can put all the fun ducks in their rows is crazy time consuming, but it’s going to make the store awesome and successful, so it’s all worth it.
proximity to downtown something you took into account?
Absolutely. The growth of downtown Denton in the past few years is just totally amazing, and we wanted to add to the arts community that is an integral part of that growth. We’ve already talked to some other downtown-but-off-the-square businesses about expanding the idea of “downtown” to more than just the square. The next few year are going to be way exciting for this little town.
What sorts of things are inspiring to you right now?
I love looking at textiles—clothing, rugs, vintage needlepoint pillows, medieval weavings, everything. Fabric is totally fascinating. Maybe that’s why I majored in Fiber Art. I’ll let the cat out of the bag here, just for you guys—I’m hoping to start designing a line of fabric based on vintage fabric techniques and then use it on my bags. But I’m also opening a store in two weeks, so… it might take me a bit to make that happen.
kinds of events will you guys be hosting at your store?
Part of the store is our “Workshop” that is store square footage but can also transform into a classroom for art classes, creative business classes, open workshop days where our artists can come hang out and work, and hopefully so much more. We’ll still be doing the big shows at the Center for Visual Arts, but we’re also hoping we can do some smaller fairs and trunk shows at the store.
The DIME store will be celebrating their Grand Opening Party on Friday, April 5th and 6th (wine + cheese Friday night, BBQ Saturday, and live letterpress printing all weekend). The store is located at 510 S. Locust. It’s about three blocks south of the square in a converted 1950s house. After that weekend, normal store hours will be Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00am-6:00pm, closed Sundays and Mondays.