now located on 1536 Cole Street, has a shop full of imaginative treasures. We can thank one woman’s passion for creativity and mind’s eye for making these affordable crafts available to the public. Meet owner and founder of Crooked Fence Gifts, Vicky Watkins.
Vicky wasn’t always a shop owner; in fact, her shop is only two years old. She has, however, always had an artistic edge about her which started when she was around nine years old. Out of boredom and pure curiosity Vicky found herself roaming around neighborhoods looking for odd jobs to earn some money. Her family did not have a lot of money at the time so she did what she could do, and most importantly tasks she enjoyed to earn this money.
She especially liked taking old pieces of jewelry and miscellaneous scraps of odds and ends and making them into ‘newer’ pieces of jewelry. From this an entrepreneurial spirit sprouted its tiny leaves leading to much bigger and stronger roots down the road.
In the 1980s Vicky started selling her wares to little shops and boutiques in North Hollywood. Following the trend of the 80s, she was inspired by both gothic themes and her love of anything vintage. At this time her crafts included gothic art pieces and antique gargoyles along with her continuing fondness of jewelry making and repurposing older pieces.
Flash forward 20 or so years and Vicky was still perpetually inspired to create even more stylish and unique jewelry, arts and crafts. She continued to work full time but something inside her was gnawing away that there was more to life then just working all the time.
It was the need to be happy and do something for her.
In 2007, Vicky grew her website to create more exposure for her items. She continued to work and it was in 2010 when the light bulb went off. She was passing by an empty shop on Griffin Avenue when she suddenly realized she felt butterflies in her stomach. She looked into the rent and realized she could afford it and Crooked Fence Gifts was born.
Almost two years passed since her grand opening and Vicky took her clients' comments seriously. Most people, except repeat customers, would tell her that they never knew she was on Griffin Avenue.
Now that’s not good for business is it…or was it?
With a gung ho attitude and persistence to keep growing her customer base, Vicky recently moved to her location on Cole Street—a much more visible spot that is very foot traffic friendly. Her storefront is welcoming and many of her and local artists’ goods beckon passersbys.
One of Vicky’s goals for Crooked Fence Gifts is to have a shop that is 100 percent made in the U.S.A. It may sound like an impossible feat but Vicky is probably about 90 percent on her way to achieving this goal. She believes in supporting not only the local economy but the United States’ economy as well. Most all items, including the descriptive sales tags down to the tiny clips for jewelry are all made close by or by local vendors.
Crooked Fence Gifts features many of Vicky’s own creations such as her necklaces, bracelets and earrings as well as broaches, hair clips and vintage frame art. One of her newest and amazing creations is beaded tie back for curtains. She is looking at expanding this line as they have been big sellers—and an awesome alternative to those overly large and encumbersome tassel ropes.
Mainly though, Vicky consigns arts and crafts from local creators and artsy types looking for exposure for their goods. She offers a straight 25 percent consignment fee with no space rent of extra fees. She feels that it is a fair price to house and professionally display these arts and crafts and gives local artists much more exposure for their individual talents. Some of her vendors are from Lacey, Orting, Wilkeson and Buckley.
Examples of items she carries are vintage aprons, custom metal work and stamping, revamped and repurposed woodwork and brass industrial style jewelry, felt work, crochet, knitting and laser cut signs. Also to be found are vintage pots with succulent starts, jewelry holders, wooden signs, carved wooden boxes, doll clothes and anything imaginable for putting a gift basket together.
There really is too much to list which is why you should visit…hint, hint!
Vicky also can customize anything for no extra charge (except for switching say a brass piece with a sterling piece for jewelry) and she offers free repairs and adjustments on her products. She is smart to realize that one length or style is not for everyone.
Her future vision for Crooked Fence is to hire one or two co-workers who could actually set up shop within her shop showcasing their individual talents. For instance someone who knits hats could be knitting and showing their wares while shoppers peruse the store. With this positive approach and spirit combined, I’m sure Vicky will accomplish this 2012 goal.
With the backing of her family, the amazing support from her husband and her eye and passion for design, it appears that Crooked Fence is here to stay. And in Vicky’s own words, “And besides, working hard keeps me out of trouble.”
Keep working Vicky!