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JOCELYNN BROWN

Handmade: Time gives designer a chance to slow down

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News

With so much at-home time on their hands due to the COVID-19 pandemic, crafters everywhere are unearthing motherloads of yarn, fabric and more -- supplies they forgot they'd purchased or simply never had the time to put to use.  

As a seamstress and fashion designer who has dabbled in jewelry making, Felicia Patrick, owner of Flo Boutique at 404 W. Willis, one of Detroit's most popular garment and accessories store, has collected beads for the past 15 years. She's kept them neatly stored in plastic bead organizers on a shelf in her home studio, where she designs and makes garments that are sold in her shop alongside those of other local, as well as national and international, designers.

But one day the Detroiter realized running a business left very little time to pursue her passion for making jewelry, yet, she continued collecting, with hopes of someday having time to once again create the beaded accessories she sold in her shop when she opened it more than a decade ago.

Felicia Patrick, owner of Flo Boutique, at her sewing machine inside her studio.

"The last thing I was interested in were ponytail holders, earrings, and then I started making bracelets -- memory wire bracelets and wire-wrap bracelets. But the last time I went to a (bead) show, it was necklaces -- funky necklaces," she said. 

A few weeks ago, Patrick, 55, decided she would use some of her "stay home, stay safe" time carefully going through her bead collection as part of organizing her studio. Because she didn't feel the need to hurry, she said she was able to do it in a "manner of appreciating" what she had. Before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "stay home, stay safe" order, she said she would have felt "more rushed" to get it done.

"When this (the pandemic) is done, I need to have things out of the way. I haven't really been creating because I felt things were in the way. I need to be organized. I had planned on organizing my place, but this time, I actually opened up things and looked in them," she said. "Being at home has allowed me time to see and appreciate what I have. I realized I had to organize my studio to know where everything is. I was like a kid in a candy store, and it was bringing up design ideas I wanted to do."

One of Felicia Patrick’s bead containers filled with turquoise and coral beads.

The size of her collection, which includes everything from carnelian and coral to turquoise and amber, left her feeling overwhelmed, so she decided it's time to downsize. She's planning to sell more than half her bead collection to those she hopes will "appreciate" them. She said, the sale will be held at the shop "when we get to the point where we can have crowds. The rest I'm going to use to get back into creating. Bracelets and necklaces are the two things I want to get back into making and selling in the boutique."

Located just a stone's throw away from Wayne State University, Patrick said peopletend to think her shop is geared toward college students, but her customers run the gamut. "It's a mixture of everybody," she stated. Customers also range in age -- from those in their 20s to "older jazzy ladies" in their 80s.

Flo Boutique, named in memory of Patrick's mother, whose name was Florence but was often called "Flo," has been a destination shop among individuals, mostly women, with a unique and "funky" sense of style. And, the beaded jewelry she hopes to make again will reflect that same fashion-forward and trendsetting flavor -- the kind that commands a second look and keeps her customers coming back for more.

In the meantime, the talented entrepreneur said, "My whole focus now is to finish all my old (sewing) projects that have been holding me back. I have projects that have been sitting in my studio for eight years. They're skirts and neck pieces that require beading." 

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, jbrown@detroitnews.com or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.

Contact Flo Boutique (404 W. Willis, Detroit) at (313) 831-4901, or on Facebook and Instagram. Email: floboutiquedetroit@gmail.com.