Sister House Collective (1110 Fremont St.) is many things: a carefully curated store selling handmade products from around the world that benefit marginalized people and nonprofits; a local artist hotbed, featuring everything from jewelry to hand-painted cards; and a venue that hosts creative workshops to grow the creative community Downtown. On April 8, it’s officially open to the public.
In 2014, founder Ashley Ayala made a career shift from her job as an in-home care provider and summer camp art director for special needs adults to starting Sister House Collective. That year, she was inspired when she traveled to Southeast Asia with the intention of finding a job working with sex trafficking victims. Instead, while in Thailand and Cambodia, Ayala learned that many trafficking survivors were thriving in rehab programs while making handmade goods.
“I wanted to bring these beautiful products to the U.S., specifically Las Vegas, and engage the public through handcrafted commerce, opening the door to conversations about things that really matter—like men, women and children being abused all over the world for the sake of human consumption,” she says. “We all like things like jewelry and throw pillows. And we all have friends and family who appreciate a good gift.”
Ayala’s goal for Sister House is to serve as a place where people can buy quality products knowing that the purchases directly impact the lives of the artisans behind them. Sister House items range from jewelry made by an indigenous tribe in Costa Rica to one-of-a-kind blankets, hand-stitched by sex trafficking survivors in Bangladesh who are undergoing counseling and integration back into society.
The store also includes ethically and sustainably produced artisan goods from the U.S. Locally, Ayala has also brought in a handful of talented artists including Emma Kelly of Desert Daisy Jewelry, illustrator Abbie Paulhus, Sara Lunn of Cultivate Goods, Erica Bell of Vivir Creative and macrame artist and owner of Nostalgia Resources, Veronica Torres-Miller. And creative events are already on the calendar. The space will host regular workshops such as calligraphy and journaling as a way to foster the Downtown community.
“I really want to see creative culture thrive, and do to that, creative entrepreneurs need to have a space to meet and collaborate,” she says.
Sister House Collective’s hours are from 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat. and 12–5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information visit sisterhousecollective.com.