Purses made out of books, aprons fashioned from men’s dress shirts and tote bags crafted from patterned pillow shams—these are all things you’ll find on the shelves of White Bear Lake’s Truly. This unique shop exudes plenty of artistic flair and indie spirit in both its merchandise and design.
Sherrie Chapin and her business partner Samantha Hagel opened Truly in 2006. Chapin, who always has been interested in the arts and even started making her own line of handmade jewelry in 2000, ended up meeting what she calls “cool people making cool stuff” via her online jewelry site. She got to thinking that White Bear Lake would be the perfect place to start a shop.
In 2009, Hagel moved out of town, but thanks to Chapin’s artistic eye for unique merchandise, Truly continues to grow. Chapin has increased the number of featured artists from 60 to about 150; interested artists can contact her by sending photos of their work and a link to their website, or by making an appointment. All artists must pass Chapin’s “gut instinct” test to gain a spot. Most products are consignment, and all are by independent artists.
“Truly is emblematic of crafters and artists being true to themselves and really loving what they do,” she says. Every piece at Truly has an artist with a story behind it.
Price: $35–$57 depending on the size
Kristina Drake, owner of Cryptid Critters, started selling her animal-head sculptures at Truly last May, with her jackalope being a signature piece. Chapin ran across Drake’s Etsy shop, saw she was local, and invited her to sell her work at Truly.
Drake’s artistic ambitions began early as she recounts memories of sculpting as far back as she can remember. “My dad tried to convince me that jackalopes were real and lived in our neighborhood,” she says. With those jackalopes remaining prevalent in her imagination, Drake began sculpting one for her own home. Once her friends and family found out, they all wanted one.
Today, Drake sculpts a variety of local Minnesota animals, including rabbits, foxes and beavers. “I’m interested in the local legends and folklore, so I think it’s fun to make new versions of those animals,” she says.
Price: $5 each
Artist Nora Dombrock stumbled upon Truly about a year ago during one of her summer trips to the beach in White Bear Lake. After seeing Chapin’s collection of artistic treasures, Dombrock asked Chapin if she would be interested in selling her handmade cards.
Dombrock has been making the watercolor and self-designed block-print greeting cards for five years and started pursuing a full-time career in art in 2011. “I love being able to work for myself and have an outlet for my creativity,” she says.
Her cards feature unexpected scenes like polar bears doing yoga or a squirrel couple on the verge of retirement, each using one main color complemented by accent colors. Dombrock uses a linoleum block to make each print, and even folds and cuts the paper herself.
Dombrock loves the thoughtful mix of pieces at Truly. “[Chapin] knows her client base really well—she has unique jewelry and prints, and just fun, gifty stuff,” she says.
Lisa Servatius is more than a part-time employee at Truly; the shop also features a variety of pieces from her Serendipity product line.
“I live in the area with my family and have always loved the feel of historic downtown White Bear Lake. While browsing the shops in summer 2008, I came upon Truly and instantly connected with it,” she says.
Servatius describes her pieces as “useful items with an artistic spirit.” Her product line is made from thrift shop textiles, which she repurposes and redesigns into things like T-shirt necklaces, aprons made from deconstructed men’s dress shirts and pillows transformed from old sweaters, just to name a few.
“I like the idea that I am using fabric with a history and giving it new life,” she says.
Truly celebrates six years in business the first week of October with birthday cupcakes October 5 and 20 percent off the entire shop October 5 and 6.
Hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday. 2175 4th St., White Bear Lake; 651.426.8414