Kitsch: Supporting Local Artists and Community in Norfolk

by | Jul 21, 2023

Kitch is a beloved local shop in Norfolk, VA that sells a curated collection of handmade and locally crafted goods. Owner Danielle sat down with Norfolk Currents to discuss the origins of Kitch, the importance of supporting local artists and businesses, and her own journey settling into the Norfolk community.

Danielle describes Kitch as a store on Colley Avenue where “everything is handmade by artists.” The offerings include jewelry, food items, plants, art prints, tea towels, tote bags, and more. She emphasizes the “local” nature of the inventory, contrasting it with mass-produced items from other countries.

The shop first opened 11 years ago, founded by five Virginia artists who wanted to create a physical retail space rather than just selling online. After a few years, Danielle and her business partner Christine acquired the business. With Danielle’s family background in entrepreneurship and her professional experience in theater production, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Artists find Kitch in various ways – through their website application, Instagram messages, word of mouth, or just walking in the door. Danielle enjoys curating and highlighting local talent. She also appreciates the chance to provide income for artists, whether as supplemental or full-time work.

Fostering community is an important part of Kitch’s mission. Danielle describes the loyal customer base they built in the original location and maintained even through moves and the pandemic. The relationships extend beyond just shopping transactions, creating a sense of friendship and camaraderie with the artists behind the work.

Operating the store fits nicely with Danielle’s passion for supporting local businesses and her involvement with her kids’ schools. Her theater background focused on production and operations, so she enjoys the behind-the-scenes logistics of running Kitch. Through PTA connections, she’s gotten to know many other families in the area. Danielle emphasizes the welcoming sense of community in neighborhoods like West Ghent, where everyone looks out for each other.

In discussing advice for business partnerships, Danielle highlights open communication and honesty as crucial components. She and Christine were friends for years before becoming business partners, and their experience working together on PTA boards was great preparation. Running Kitch while juggling their kids’ activities can be tiring, but they collaborate to ensure important family commitments are covered.

The pandemic brought challenges but also reminded Danielle of the strong community loyalty and support. With understanding landlords and committed customers, Kitch was able to reopen safely. She emphasizes being responsive to their own business needs rather than just following what others were doing.

Kitch aims to be a reliable place for unique local gifts, especially for those moving away from Norfolk. Danielle notes the area’s large military population, where families constantly cycle in and out. The shop enables them to take a piece of the city with them.

Though Danielle intended to stay in Norfolk temporarily when her husband got a job transfer, they put down roots in the community. With her kids born and raised here, plus her meaningful connections through Kitch and school activities, she realized Norfolk had become home. Danielle recognizes and values the sense of community that allows kids independence to safely explore the neighborhood on bikes and walk to school.

In thanking Danielle for sharing her story, she notes the importance of supporting not just Kitch but the broader community of local businesses and creators. The renaissance of new stores opening on nearby Colley Avenue after a difficult period of closures demonstrates the interconnected nature of neighborhoods rising together.

Kitch represents the best of what makes a community special – creativity, entrepreneurship, and relationships. Danielle’s leadership role epitomizes the power of investing locally with open arms, while still sustaining meaningful connections beyond the region. The store will continue crafting Norfolk memories for years to come.

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