Thursday, March 14, 2013

Arkansas Plans

  Most of you know we have planned to move back to Little Rock since the day we left Little Rock 3 years ago for me and almost 4 years ago for Matt. 
  Well, the years have passed and Matt is much much closer to his PhD - in fact he is ABD (all but dissertation). He is on track to finish up this summer or early fall.
Our lease on our house is up in mid July so we have made the decision that we will pack it all up and move back to Arkansas in the middle of the summer. Chances are, he will have to stay in Norman to finish up his school work and to also teach a semester or two since that will be a paid job. He is actively searching for teaching positions in Central Arkansas, his PhD is in Geography, hint hint - if you know any one :)

He is open to other work too but ideally he wants to teach. I've always offered a job at Bella Vita, but for some reason he wont accept it...
  I signed my lease for an Artist Studio on Main St. last week. My studio will come with a space in a gallery that will open that is on the first floor of this big development project. You can read ALL about the "big picture" of the project in these news articles:  article 1, article 2, article 3... All the little details are being released bit by bit. I know that there are a few other artists that have committed to spaces, I don't know names but I know one is a t-shirt designer and one is a painter.  I also know that there will be a restaurant and that the AR symphony, ballet, and repertory theater are considering spaces - some committed and some not. 

The building in its current state... well this pic is probably from a year ago. The whole block is under construction at the moment. I do know that the green awning is coming down!!!
Map of the area... My location is where the red flag is.
  My studio is appx. 260 sq. ft. with 17' ceilings and a window. Since the ceilings are so high I immediately inquired about building a loft to maximize space (putting my Interior Design degree to use). I immediately got the go ahead! So, I have been drawing up plans to configure the space to get the most out of it. 

Floor plan of my studio... it is tucked back in a corner of the building. To the left of the studio wall is an alley that runs parallel to Main St.
  Making the decision to lease this space was difficult and nerve wracking. I learned of the revitalization project one day while I was driving and listening to Little Rocks NPR station. I had to do a lot of digging to find info on the project. Finally after a handful of phone calls I got in touch with the right people. I first looked at a large (appx. 1400 sq. ft.) space and after a lot of thinking, I decided against it. My goals for the past year have been to focus on my wholesale business and I just decided that a large store front would be impossible for me to manage on top of designing jewelry. Jewelry design is the primary focus of Bella Vita and I can't compromise that... at least not yet. I think I will grow into the perfect retail location in the next few years. So, I decided against that space and we started look at others - the developer came back with an 800 sq. ft. basement space and the 261 sq. ft. first floor space with a window and 17' ceilings. The choice was easy! I can't wait to see the finished project. It will pretty much be an blank canvas for me to do what I want with. The studio rental comes with a display area for my jewelry in an art gallery in the building. We are still working out the details of all of that but that will be my main "retail" focus in the beginning. I will also be in my studio working regular hours so my door will almost always be open to clients and visitors. I also plan to participate in art walks and after hour events. Finally a place to host my own events!!! I am so excited!!

  What does all of this mean for Bella Vita? My plan is to keep all of my retail and consignment stores and to expand into more. I view my studio as a production center that people can come to see the latest styles and to just see the process in action. As time allows, I'll still travel to art shows and I will still do Trunk Shows. And of course, I'll be traveling back to Oklahoma City and Norman to do shows!!! I feel like I have finally fallen into a great/amazing/wonderful group of stores and art scene here in Central OK and now it is time to leave :( But, I guess that is the way life works sometimes...

  Nothing is changing here, just a relocation. I anticipate that my production will be down for a good two weeks. I have shown off images of my studio so you know how many millions of tiny little "things" I'll be packing up! The good thing is that it will be in the summer and that is my slower season. 

  I'll announce more details of the "Arts Corridor" as they are released. I know a little but have been sworn to secrecy! I am attaching a picture of the floor plan where my studio will be. I have a picture of the front facade of the building but I can't show it off yet. As soon as I get the go ahead I will. It is beautiful! I think the building is referred to as the "Arkansas Building" and was built in 1899!!!

  And if any of you know of a small, safe, dog friendly apartment/house that we can rent, please pass along the info. Chances are I won't be able to travel to Little Rock before the big move so I don't really know how we are going to find a place but I know it is possible to do all that over the internet and phone.
Mid- July will be here before we know it! EEk!


  1. Congrats! It sounds amazing!
    And don't worry. It will all work out in the end. Remember, I moved from CA to AR for school without anywhere to live and we found decent housing within a week and are doing better now than I ever could have hoped for. Just be you, go with the flow, enjoy the experiences life provides, and it will all add up to something great.
    Congrats again!

    - Jo

    1. Thank you Jo! Glad to hear you are doing so well! Hope to see you this Spring.

  2. Brandy, this is great news and I'm so excited for you. I would love to be a Bella Vita volunteer a couple of days a week. I'm pretty good at administrative stuff. Jeanne Garrett

    1. Wow! Jeanne! What a generous offer. I'll let you know when the move gets closer... you might even have some advice on how I could better my admin stuff! THank you! Can't wait to catch up :)

  3. Looking forward to having you back in Central Arkansas. When you get settled, we need to have a CenAR meetup with other bloggers.

    1. That sounds great Debbie! Feel free to email me,