The word “co-op” probably brings to mind organic grains, canvas bags of fresh vegetables and bulk quantities of tea and spices. Think, instead, Kool-Aid purses, vinyl record bowls, and crocheted ornaments. This is Bliss Co-op, located in the charming and evocative Romers Alley in Sugar Loaf, NY.
If you’ve ever visited the website for creative vendors known as Etsy, you’re familiar with the concept: a group of talented artists, designers, and craftspeople, selling their wares from a central hub. Since the birth of Bliss in April 2011, the cohort of contributors has grown to over 55 local women. Each is responsible for re-filling her own shelves when stock gets low – nothing is shipped in.
There are a handful of traditional jewelry displays, alongside alcohol bottles turned timepieces; purses, wallets, and bags made entirely from those iconic Kool-Aid pouches you thought were reserved solely for after soccer practice refreshment; and pet portraits, done in bold colors and strokes and displayed cheekily in formal frames.
Bliss owner and greeting card creator Dana Anders says the decision to pull together local women was very intentional. “It’s a way to support each other in the work we’re doing,” she says. “It can be harder, as a woman, to make it on your own.” Bliss offers these women opportunities to participate in trunk shows, run workshops and feature in meet the artist sessions.
A group class, taught this past summer by jewelry designer Heidi Mandato, served double duty as a crafty bachelorette party. Having learned the intricate art of copper weaving the women walked away with matching, handmade bridesmaids rings. True to the whimsical nature of Bliss, these were no ordinary silver bands: the ring design of choice was a wiry birds’ nest, complete with a cluster of pearly eggs.