Colleen Moore
Special to the Sun

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November 19, 2012
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Meet Your Merchant: Bespoke offers handmade goods for every occasion

TRUCKEE, Calif. - It's only been open half a year, but Bespoke already is making a name for itself as an artistic haven in downtown Truckee

"I had been dreaming up this store for years," said Heather River, founder and owner of Bespoke.

River, along with her husband, Brian Hess, recently opened the store, which offers various artisan made goods, all locally or US made, in the form of clothes, books, greeting cards, jewelry and more - all hand-made.

"(We have) a tiny bit of everything," River explained. "I'm always looking for new stuff."

River explained that her vision for the store revolves around quality and artistic recognition. Hess added that with most products, the buyer has no idea who makes it or the work that went into that creation.

"We want to educate people about the process of art," Hess said. "When you learn about the process, you connect to the art more."

River, originally from Sonoma County opened her first store when she was 16. Bespoke is the third store in Truckee that she's opened. After nine years, she explained, she has worked her way into one of the coveted downtown stores, in the heart of pedestrian local and tourist traffic, and was able to open her dream store.

"It's been great," River said of opening the store downtown. "We're really happy with where we are."

Together with Hess, they are working to educate customers to gain an appreciation for art. To achieve this, the store hosts various workshops in the back room of the storefront, on various crafts. From leatherwork to mask-making, the workshops show you how to make some of the items in the store, as well as fun gifts or decorations for the home.

"We want (customers) to appreciate the work artists do," River explained.

River and Hess both explained that they want their customers to feel empowered about art. Many of the workshops, including silkscreening and card making, show the customers how to make the items in the store themselves.

"It's about giving back, in a way," Hess said. "It's giving people the power to do the art on their own."

The couple explained that a customer came in for a stamp-making class once, then went on to make their own stamps, gradually expanding to cards, and now owns a small card line.

"That feels good, to give back to the community," Hess said.

The store also has a strong online presence, offering some items for sale on Facebook (with a complete online store to come), as well as featuring a blog on their website, with videos and pictures of DIY projects, including how the store was designed. Describing it as a "21st century" store, Hess added that it's just another way Bespoke is trying to connect with their customers.

While the store is just several months old, River and Hess are already looking forward to what's next, including more workshops and open house nights.

Whether it be a gift or a greeting card to say hello to a friend, Bespoke will have whatever you're looking for.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Nov 19, 2012 11:50AM Published Nov 19, 2012 11:48AM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.