HURRICANE —Two best friends brought their creative talents together to create a shop that showcases artists from all over Washington County, complete with a book den, painting studio, locally-made goodies and even monthly activities for the community to enjoy.
As small ideas became big dreams turned into reality, local artist Emily Rowley and trail mix company owner Kyrsten Woodard turned a small space into a massive expansion in just three months, hosting art from over 70 local artisans.
Rowley said she and Woodard have known each other since grade school when they became fast friends in art class. They shared their love of art, worked together at many of the same jobs and shared similar hopes and dreams.
“We’re a couple of art class weirdos,” Rowley said. “We’ve always had a passion for this.”
Rowley said she long has been using her artistic talents, but it wasn’t until four years ago that she started getting into it more seriously, selling her paintings out of Cafe Soleil, a coffee shop in Springdale where both she and Woodard worked.
Around the same time Rowley started to showcase and sell her art, Woodard said she started a trail mix brand called Red Canyon Company, where she sold handcrafting trail mixes online and at markets. With access to healthy ingredients from her family’s business, Shangri-La Health Foods, she was able to branch off from the business and start her own.
Red Canyon Company trail mixes include healthy ingredients such as freeze-dried strawberries and even offer a dog trail mix line, which includes ingredients like freeze-dried chicken, with each batch named after dogs from her own family.
While working together at Cafe Soleil for years, Rowley said they spoke often about their desire to open their own shop and finally decided to take the leap, combining both their interests and talents together to make it happen.
They decided to stick with the already-established name of Red Canyon Company as the official name of the new art shop.
The company originally opened in November 2020, located in a small space of only 600-square-feet in a building off Main Street in Hurricane. Woodard said the building has a very interesting history.
Built in 1921, the space has been used for many historical businesses such as a mercantile, a Sears outlet, an architect’s office and a quilt cottage. She said it was also home to Chumley’s, which had the second espresso coffee machine in all of Utah and a health food store, which was featured in the film “Electric Horseman” with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.
In their 600-square-foot store space, Rowley said the shop featured her art pieces and Woodards’ trail mixes along with a few local goods.
Once the shop opened, they grew the art showcase by reaching out to friends in the art community, including Kay Riley, a local photographer who also worked with them at Cafe Soleil. She said as more people walked by the shop and the word spread, artists would ask to showcase their art inside.
“People were excited that something like this was in Hurricane and before we knew it, we were just absolutely packed full,” Rowley said. “So many different makers – clothing makers, jewelry makers, all this art we had no idea was even here.”
Rowley said they quickly outgrew their small, 600-square-foot shop space. With a massive space available right next to their current shop with an already adjoining door, they considered expanding. But they needed at least 20 artists in order to expand to the larger space.
Woodard started making a list of local artists through Instagram and was able to secure 30 artists by their official expansion opening in February, where the shop went from 600 square feet to 2,000.
“We had these like, cozy dreams, that just got bigger, ya know?” Rowley said. “I knew this art community was here, just waiting for a place like this.”
From initially reaching out to artists to artists now reaching out to them, Woodard said they already have doubled the vendors at the shop in the short time they have been open.
Rowley said during the expansion, they took what used to be the original Red Canyon Company shop and turned it into a book den.
The book den now offers a free book exchange, with inventory provided mostly by a worker at a local thrift shop who donates an overflow to the shop weekly and another artist who donated a variety of art books he’s collected through the years.
She said as long as the door to the book den remains open, it is completely free to use for individuals, clubs, Dungeons & Dragons games, meetings and more. She said those interested in having the space completely to themselves can rent the space for $30 a day.
“We want it to be a whole community, not just a store,” Woodard said. “We want people to come and have activities.”
Rowley said their book den also hosts a book club, Red Canyon Readers, which is free to the public. Those interested in joining the book club can simply show up on the first Saturday of every month from 6-8 p.m. She encouraged those who attend to bring their own food and drinks and to come for the discussion even if they haven’t read the current book.
Red Canyon Company offers many other fun activities, such as acrylic paint classes hosted by Ashley Swenson with Color Beyond. Rowley said there will be a pot-painting class this month, offering the community a chance to paint a cute little planter with a plant already inside.
Every second Saturday of the month, the shop offers free tarot readings by Sam Stewart, with tips appreciated. They also have a separate paint room available for rent which allows artists to bring their own supplies and utilize the space to paint their art. The paint room is $15 a day to share the space or $30 a day to use as a private room.
Rowley said Red Canyon Company offers free WiFi, a tea bar, local baked pastries and fudge, with tables and chairs available to the public. They encourage people to take a seat and work, relax or just enjoy the art around them.
Rowley also said they are working on a new coffee bar inside the shop with the goal to bring back that old coffee shop feel. She said she and Woodard were baristas for 10 years and that it’s something they equally love.
When they both worked at Cafe Soleil, customers could relax and get a cup of coffee while meeting people from all over the world. She said as it got busier and busier there were fewer places that allowed people to have that experience.
“You can’t bring a laptop anymore and take up a seat because they need that table, they need that turnover,” Rowley said. “And we miss that, so we want to recreate it here.”
Rowley said to maintain the easygoing pace of the store, the coffee bar will mostly offer cold brew drinks from a variety of local roasters such as White Hive Coffee along with many different flavors of tea. They hope to have the coffee bar section of the store open by this summer.
Woodard said they now have roughly 72 vendors featured in their shop. They also have a current waiting list and will be taking on additional artists as soon as the coffee shop project is completed.
With a goal to feature as many local artists as possible, they are toying with the idea of doing a featured vendor to allow for rotation of artists on the waiting list. A full website with vendor pages for each artist with biographies and items currently for sale is also in the works.
“Finding that confidence to say, ‘Yeah, I’m an artist this is what I do.’ We want to provide that for as many people as we can and give them some sort of stable home base so they can grow,” Rowley said.
For those interested in showcasing their art at Red Canyon Company, Rowley said they give artisans the option to either rent space for a flat fee of $100 and keep all the profits from their sales, or allow the shop to take a 30% commission of any art that is sold.
“We’re just art weirdos who created a community space for artists and lovers of art,” Rowley said. “Even if you don’t have a penny, just come in and enjoy it.”
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.