Reporting, writing and photos by Laura Lakins

This year more than ever, small businesses and local artists need our support. Gardenias & Grace, a gallery of art and handcrafted goods, gives us the opportunity to contribute to both. 

Located at 654 Canton Rd. in Ellet, Gardenias & Grace offers a wide variety of items from artists and crafters in the greater Akron area. From jewelry, to soaps, to pottery and more, they have a little something for everyone.

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“The idea to have it here on a corner in Ellet comes from me living here,” owner Kathy Strasser says. “Being from Ellet, I know this community has a ton of good people and great things going on, and I wanted to contribute to that.”

Kathy opened the shop in February. Her appreciation for artists combined with her love for handmade work was all the inspiration she needed to open Gardenias & Grace. Each artist and crafter are given their own display area, where you can read about each person as you browse through their work. The gallery also features a “Blooming Artist” section, which is an area devoted to up-and-coming high school artists.

“My thing is to assure the art is local. That’s what I’m about. We have artists in here from all over Akron, Tallmadge, Springfield, Mogadore, the list goes on and on,” Kathy said. 

Kathy wants the community to have a chance to learn from local artists as well. She kicked off the “Homecrafted Holiday Class” series in October. The series allows for various artists to come in and host classes geared towards the holidays. Each class is limited to 4-6 guests to allow for social distancing, and the ability to make the class a private event for you and your guests is also an option. The series will run through December. 

“I hope this can be a place where people feel comfortable. People can come and bring their friends to hang out. I like to say, ‘gather at the gallery.’ I’d love to see kids come after school, bring their art supplies and meet with likeminded people,” Kathy said. 

As the business continues to grow, Kathy has plans to host more community-oriented events. She hopes to have meet-and-greet nights that feature local artists from the gallery, family craft nights, art classes, and more. 

For the time being, Kathy recommends grabbing a cup of coffee from Artisan, which is located right across the street, and heading over to browse the boutique — an opportunity to support two local businesses in one trip! 

To find information on the “Homecrafted Holiday Series,” see their hours of operations, and to keep up with the gallery, check out their Instagram @gardeniasgrace, their Facebook at Gardenias&Grace, or call the boutique at 330-292-3992. Any artist looking to display their work in Gardenias & Grace can stop in the boutique and chat with Kathy. 

Laura Lakins is an educator and freelance writer from Akron, OH.

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