Friday, April 1, 2011

THE SLEEPY SQUIRREL EMPORIUM {interview with Nika Oakes}

Last Fall my mom saved me an article from the local paper about a new boutique that had just opened up in the small town of Deerfield {good lookin' out Mom}. The Sleepy Squirrel Emporium features handmade jewelry, gently used clothing and carefully selected home accessories. Although it took me a few months to get over there to check it out, I was pleasantly surprised at the selection and decor of this fantastic little shop...not to mention the owner, Nika Oakes, was a pleasure to get to know as well. Thank you Nika for taking the time to answer some of my questions and letting me share your talents with my followers. 

You have a wonderful store full of beautiful handmade jewelry (and lots of it). When did you start making jewelry and how long does it take you to make one piece?

Thank you! I started making jewelry when I was 12 years old. I was in the 7th grade and I had bought this great vintage dress. It was pink and had spaghetti straps and I really wanted a necklace and earrings that matched it perfectly. My mom suggested that we go to The Bead Emporium in Hyannis, MA and with just one trip to the bead store, my passion for making jewelry was born.
The amount of time it takes me to make one piece of jewelry is in direct correlation to the size of the beads I am using. My favorite beads are medium crystals and medium wooden beads. Small seed beads present a tedious task that I would rather avoid! A long necklace of medium beads could be made in 15 minutes versus a long necklace of seed beads, which could take around an hour!

What inspires you when you make jewelry, and do you follow the current trends?  

I have made many pieces of jewelry in varying styles and I would say that what I make is heavily influenced by my interests at the time. My husband and I read The Road to Woodstock by Michael Lang, the creator and organizer of Woodstock two summers ago. During that time I started my Bohemian line, which stars mostly wooden beads and vibrant crystals of red, orange and gold. During the winter I tend to make jewelry with more crystals and darker colors as Christmas and New Years Eve rolls around. I do not follow any jewelry trends, except that I like to purchase different charms and chains as they become available in the stores.

You mentioned you are not originally from this area. Where are you from and what made you decide to move here?

I am originally from Cape Cod, where my husband and I owned a home and were middle school teachers. I was selling my jewelry in numerous stores in the area and was encouraged by the number of sales I had per month. Last Spring, we decided to move back to the area where we met (we both attended UMass) and buy a Victorian house that would be large enough to run a store out of. The idea came to us when we were visiting The House of Seven Gables in Salem, MA on my birthday in 2009. It once housed a small general store and was home to the woman who ran it. We liked the idea of going back to the way things used to be over 100 years ago. With that in mind, we hope that your readers will choose to buy local and stop in at our store.

You have such wonderful, small personal touches to every detail in the store that makes it feel very welcoming. Have you been saving these ideas for a while? 

Many of the "small touches" you kindly mentioned were ideas offered by others or things that seemed natural to such a small store. Candles and cookies have always reminded me of home and that is exactly how we want our guests to feel when they come to The Sleepy Squirrel Emporium. Because it is located in our home, I think it has a really comfy quality.

What are your future plans for the store?

My future plans for the store include adding more gently used, unique clothing, lots of new handmade jewelry pieces, and cute decorations for the home. The Sleepy Squirrel Emporium idea originally started as solely a jewelry store, but quickly evolved into a second hand clothing store, an art gallery (featuring local artists as well as my husband’s exquisite photography) and a place to find a sweet gift for anyone in your life. We like to add that extra special touch with our wrapping materials, festive music and our friendly down home demeanor.

{the most adorable dressing room ever!}

Where can people go to find out more about your business?

We can be contacted via a “conversation” through our ETSY website: or “Like” us on Facebook. Read about us on our BLOG:

We sincerely thank you, Solo Thais, for spotlighting The Sleepy Squirrel Emporium!

Visit Nika at her fabulous store Saturdays 10-5 and Sundays 11-3
731 Greenfield Road
Deerfield, MA. 01342

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