Maybe the most instantly-recognizable storefront in Downtown Spartanburg is designed to catch the eye and entice shoppers inside. There, they’ll find art – in various forms – from nearly 70 local artists, the cozy aroma of burning candles and the welcoming demeanor of Katheryn and Maggie Macdonald.
The mother-daughter team opened Kindred Spirits – with its bright blue and green storefront reading “you are one of a kind” – on Spring Street nearly three years ago. The boutique features unique, handmade jewelry, home goods, art, knick-knacks, soaps, pottery, greeting cards and upcycled clothes.
“We really wanted to do something that would attract attention and we could say, ‘oh, you know, look for the blue mural or the green leaves,’” she said. “Plus, my daughter loves to paint and she just went for it.”
Kindred Spirits’ self-created tagline perfectly describes the store and the unique pieces inside of it.
“We’re a marketplace of all things handmade and one-of-a-kind,” Katheryn said. “Everyone who comes in here hears that from us.”
Art runs in the Macdonald family. Katheryn has been working with textile arts since she was 4 years old, creating and sewing all the while. Maggie, a Converse College student, has been painting since she was a child and is pursuing an art career.
Maggie worked in the business that previously occupied the Spring Street space Kindred Spirits now calls home. The Macdonalds had the chance to take over the space and jumped at it.
“We thought, ‘what the heck,’ let’s go for it,” Katheryn said. “We had an opportunity to take over the whole space, so we did that. Most recently, we’ve signed a three-year lease because we love it here.”
Kindred Spirits started off offering mostly the products made by Katheryn and Maggie, “because we didn’t know what we were doing,” Katheryn said jokingly. Now, though, the shop works with and sells the products of nearly 70 artists from across Spartanburg. Kindred Spirits’ walls and shelves are adorned with acrylic paintings, handmade soaps, jewelry and dozens of uniquely-Spartanburg items crafted right here.
“When we take people’s stuff, they kind of say, ‘do you think you could sell it?’ And we say, ‘yes, of course! We love that,” Katheryn said. “By the time we’re done with them, they walk out, shoulders are back, head is high. This is a ministry and we had no idea. That’s what this is all about, taking these artists that don’t feel confident in themselves and getting their products to the people.”
Katheryn said the shop has started hosting art classes related to the various products they sell. For instance, February will feature wood-based art and woodworking. The classes encourage artists to explore creativity rather than try to make something by any kind of blueprint.
“We love teaching and just having fun, getting past the ‘did I do it right’ feature of art,” she said. “My daughter always says, ‘do it your way is doing it right.’”
Kindred Spirits has started hosting live music during ArtWalk events, adding to the welcoming vibe emanating from the store.
The tagline of Kindred Spirits rings true in their products and the environment inside the space. Katheryn said that is by-design to encourage artistic creation, encourage artists and welcome in anyone with an appreciation for handmade products and design.
“Just trying to get a community where they feel comfortable. I’m kind of one of those. I swim up a different stream. People come in here sometimes and just hang out, and that’s such a compliment to me. We want to create a space that feels comfortable,” she said. “If you want to not be like anyone else, come here. We’re not like anyone else.”