Atlanta, Georgia, native Leigh Metcalf takes us into the Beehive, all abuzz with independent design
Atlanta craft-collective the Beehive
Compared to many large US cities, Atlanta, Georgia, is a bit lacking in the tourist-destination department – a guidebook might have the World of Coca-Cola or the CNN Center at the top of its must-see list. But what the city lacks in attractions, it makes up for in its diverse retail terrain. This sprawling city with distinct neighborhoods is bursting with shopping districts, from the ritzy Phipps Plaza to the edgy Little Five Points. If it’s shopping you need, Atlanta is a great destination, and for the best of handmade, one shop stands out among the crowd: the Beehive.
It might sit on the periphery of the Edgewood Retail District (a shopping hub that’s made up of superstores), but that doesn’t deter shoppers who aim to keep it local. “The Edgewood community is very local-friendly,” says the Beehive owner Malene Davis. “They may shop at the superstores around us, but they’re still urban farmers, farm-to-table diners, and love their local design.”
The Beehive’s original founder, Petra Geiger, envisioned a unique platform for up-andcoming designers to start their business in a collaborative environment. The concept was to allow each designer to rent their own space within the shop, and those who worked in the store would get a discount on their rent.
Petra has since left Atlanta to launch the New York Beehive Co-op store, but the concept hasn’t changed. “Many of our designers make a living solely selling their items,” Malene says. The Beehive designers are equally proud to be a part of such a tight-knit group. “I live outside Atlanta,” says Karen of Karen Meyers Designs, who makes fabulous colorful bags from repurposed jumpers. “It’s not an area with a lot creative entrepreneurial things going
on, so getting hooked up with this group of people was essential in my growth as a small business. It led to many opportunities, including partnerships for teaching and selling at festivals.”
The interior is crisp and modern, with concrete floors, high ceilings, and exposed pipes. It’s filled with upcycled clothing, handmade children’s toys, repurposed jewelry, natural beauty products, tea and jam – and even gifts for pets. Although the overall handmade aesthetic has a consistent flow throughout the shop, it’s hard not to notice the nooks that divide spaces in between. These natural, honeycolored wood fixtures serve as dividers, creating mini-shops within the whole so each designer can merchandise and sell their work.
Making your way through the Beehive’s different sections, you’ll find it’s easily a one-stop shop. Whether you’re shopping for yourself, a family member, or friend, the Beehive has something for everyone. Even the designers themselves have a hard time stopping at one thing. “I’ll see some adorable clothes for my girls, then some more clothes for me,” says Amy Leff of Throwing Stars Jewelry. “Then there’s some yummy sweets to taste, tea I need to sip, bags I need to fill, soaps I need to smell... it’s just endless!”
The Beehive is not only a must-visit shopping space, but it’s also a wonderful resource for learning. The Bee Creative area has a workshop, where designers teach classes in sewing, knitting, felting, and jewelry making. Mary Sweeney of Felted Heart, who makes clothing and accessories from recycled wool, sums it up perfectly: “I love the convenience of the Beehive being open seven days a week – it’s a hub of local, creative energy.” www.thebeehiveatl.com
A visit to the Beehive is likely to leave you well accessorized.
We always love a good mash-up of fabrics.
While you’re here, revamp your wardrobe with some handmade pieces.
A bold splash of color and pattern is just what every sofa needs.
Bring home some words to live by as a souvenir.
Don’t miss out on the Beehive’s workshop space at the back.
Sewing classes are great, but they’re even better paired with wine at the Beehive’s Sip and Stitch workshops.
This way for crafts.