Recently Jen Villa took time to sit down with me to talk about all things local. She has inspired me in so many ways especially when it comes to supporting my community! She has opened my eyes to see how health can take on so many different forms. It is not just about our physical health but also that of our community.
Jen is an artist and serial entrepreneur living on Cape Cod. After a few years of running The Little Beach Gallery, representing and connecting with the incredible local artist community, she collaborated with Amanda Converse + Kate Sheehan and started LoveLiveLocal, an online lifestyle guide promoting all things local. She also co-founded Love Yoga Fest, a local yoga festival, with LoveLiveLocal partners and local yogi Annika Illiadis. Lastly, she partnered with local food enthusiast and Registered Dietitian Nicole Cormier to create The Local Juice, a cold pressed juice company. She is also a proud board member of both the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District (BID) and Cape Wellness Collaborative(CWC).
I feel so fortunate that she has taken the time with me to go over the benefits of shopping locally! Read more below...
Tell us a bit about your shop and what you do
I started The Little Beach Gallery in 2009. I opened it to showcase my photography and had about ten other local artists to recruit the space. At the time no one was focussing on local and it was a challenge to get that together in the beginning. I doubled the space within a year and in 2011 bought the building and now have over 60 local artists to display!
Tell us your personal philosophy on buying local
I believe it is an essential part of maintaining communities and business. The evolution of online shopping and material things has really changed the idea of a Main St. It is important to think of local first. It affects everyone you know from the employees, the owners, and the non profit organizations. Keeping the wealth in the community affects every aspect of our community. When you shop online $0 affects your community. If every consumer on Cape Cod shifted $50 to local business this would generate a revenue of an additional $4 million in the year.
Where does someone brand new to shopping local begin?
Lovelivelocal.com ; here you can sign up for the email that comes with recommendations where to go and has a column on where to find things locally. Tell us where you can’t find something local and we will direct you.
What made you interested in supporting local business?
Opening the gallery I really wanted to showcase the local artistry on Cape Cod. There are so many amazing artists and the landscape is so inspiring for creatives. Each item has a journey and story behind it. Also, once I was in the world of small business I understood how vital it was to support other local business. Having an inside perspective motivated me to support small local businesses and business owners.
Are there any locally made best-sellers?
All of them . Over 60 local artists. Everything in the store was made on Cape Cod. Nothing is foreign; reused wine bottles from the Cape, hand blown glass, and local wood from trees.
What is your motivation for selling locally handmade goods?
The importance of quality items in your life and having something in your home that has meaning to it and has a story behind it. I am in the practice of having less is more so what you do have is special. People do want items such as paintings to o remind you of the beauty in the world and to have something to be grateful for.
Does shopping local reduce environmental impact?
Majorly. Everything I sell is hand delivered by the artist. This reduces transportation, emissions, packaging, and the waste like packaging. When it is small scale vs large scale there are a lot less steps especially with transportation.
What are your hopes for the future of the buy local movement on Cape Cod?
That it will continue to grow and grow and grow. Continue to educate our consumers on the importance and the accessibility of shopping local. It is accessible to everyone regardless of economic status. It is s ok to not know where to begin and to start by making small changes. We are looking for ways to make that easier for people. We will do this through platforms that will help educate people and make it even more accessible to find items that are made locally. Through our advocacy we can stay relevant and compete with the big businesses. The CapeMade Field Guide guide is our 3rd issue of all local artists and businesses on the cape!
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Everything. I love that I get to be creative every single day and challenged every single day. I am also reminded that I am making a difference however small or big . Whether it is through customer interaction or making an impact on the community. My intention was to be a space for local artists and for customers to feel welcomed and comfortable. People are able to connect through the gallery and it has become much more of a community.
If you are still scrambling to find presents right now then go out and shop local! One thing I have learned from this is that health manifests in so many different ways and by supporting local you are nurturing the the health of our community!
Yours in health,