Projects for The Selkie

Projects for The Selkie

From Amanda B. Duncan

Hi Friends & Family! I am working towards opening my new gift shop, The Selkie, in Historic Downtown Wilson January of 2021. I have several projects I'm working on and would love your help to cover expenses!

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"When I'm having a bad day, I wear one of your bracelets and it makes me feel like a superhero..."

Every morning I wake up under a quilt made from fabric remnants and feed sacks that were hand stitched together by my great-grandmother. I drink coffee from one of many hand-turned pottery mugs and scramble eggs in the handmade dish given to me over ten years ago. I go through my morning surrounded by wall art and sculptures from local artists and grab my car keys from a handwoven basket when it's time to leave. My hand lotion, my jewelry, and my purse are the products of a creative's imagination and courage. I am never alone. Art and inspiration envelope me and perfume the air I breathe.

Simply Adorned 79

Honestly, I did not understand the fundamental need - yes, need - of art in one's life and in one's community until I started my jewelry business, Simply Adorned 79, in 2018. It was then that I realized the impact an artisan can have on another individual. For me, an artist interprets the world through abstract and often complex notions of emotion, thought, and perspective to create a tangible object. This object becomes the mouthpiece for how that artist speaks to the world. It is a deeply personal experience. When a customer chooses to become a home for an artist's work, it completes the cycle. As an artist, I get to be with my customer on a difficult day when they need the power I fuse into a leather cuff to make them feel strong; I get to be with my customer for every laugh, moment of determination, and time of vulnerability. Art is a facilitator of the collective, bonding human experience.

Historic Downtown Wilson, NC

I have always planned on building a permanent home for Simply Adorned 79 and knew that this home would include like-minded artists, artisans, and craftspeople from North Carolina. When the Coronavirus Pandemic hit the U.S., I assumed this dream would be pushed further away into the not-so-near future. However, a wonderful opportunity to bring this concept into reality is at my doorstep and I cannot think of a more suitable time to bring beauty into a community then now. My new hometown, Wilson NC, is quickly becoming a hub for North Carolina art. Wilson's main art benefactors are the towering, spinning, awe inspiring whirligigs created by North Carolina folk artist, Vollis Simpson.

The preservation of Simpson's massive whirligigs in a centralized city park has not only saved the engineering and artistic genius of NC's most famous unintentional artist but has also encouraged the new wave idea that art should be accessible to as many people as possible. This is the theme of my new soon-to-open gift shop, The Selkie. Along with many amazing NC-based vendors, I plan to offer an unconventional gift shop which sells an eclectic assortment of quality, functional products to Wilson locals and the over 100,000 tourists who visit the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park each year. I am so fortunate that The Selkie will be just a short walk away from these wind spun beauties.

Photos of the building under lease, its view of the Park, and revitalization projects being completed by the City:

The Selkie

I previously referred to The Selkie as an unconventional gift shop. Let me elaborate on the uniqueness of my plan and why I hope you will support it. My experiences as a small artisan business has opened my eyes (through markets, events, and mutual connections) to the thriving artistic talent in North Carolina. First and foremost, I understand that I have a desire and responsibility to represent this talent, this community to out-of-state and out-of-country visitors coming to Historic Downtown Wilson. Because I feel this responsibility so deeply, I am recruiting a diverse group of NC creatives who are masters at their art. Some participating vendors are sold nationally (even globally!) while others fall into the emerging artist category. It is important to me to have a balance of both so that shoppers have access to works that are and are not widely known.

I want and expect The Selkie to be a continuous source of functional artwork that, when purchased, can be a source of inspiration in a customer's everyday routine. My carefully curated gift shop will eliminate the mass produced and the mundane so that shopping will be an experience, never a task.

Westerly Gallery

Another unconventional aspect of The Selkie will be the Westerly Gallery. Expanding on the idea that art should be accessible, I am removing the starkness of the traditional art gallery and museum to bring fine art to the local community of shop goers as well as visitors. A dedicated, separately branded section in The Selkie will be devoted to an inviting space that exhibits well-established NC artists on a rotating two month schedule (2021 is almost booked!). I feel it is important to maintain this other balance of functional art and fine art in a way that melds them together in a mutually beneficial way.

I Need Your Help

As you can imagine, start-up costs for a new business can accumulate quickly! In an effort to offset costs for projects, I am asking for donations from friends and family for help make The Selkie a reality . Much of my seed money will go towards architectural plans, change of use fees for the building, and general contractor fees to upfit the space that will bring it up to code. 

Here are expenses I need help with to get me ready for the official opening in January of 2021:

  • Exterior signage for the side, back, and facade of the building - $400
  • Exterior paint (brick and facade) and interior paint to upgrade the space, vinyl interior baseboard - $500
  • Lumber, paint, and hardware to build display stands and tables - $1,000
  • Business cards, labels, and supplies - $200
  • One time lease fee and art for an Art-o-mat machine which is an old cigarette machine that has been converted to vend art - $1,000 THIS HAS BEEN SPONSORED BY AN ANONYMOUS DONOR!
  • Rights to an original hand drawn map of Historic Downtown Wilson by Lord of the Maps in the style of J.R.R. Tolkien - $400 THIS HAS BEEN SPONSORED BY AN ANONYMOUS DONOR!

Here are images of the perks you'll receive when you donate:

Thank you so, so much for your love and support! Please reach out with any questions and I will get back to you ASAP!

Amanda Duncan

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