Art Bou­tique Owner Denise Ahlstrom

Her unique, award-win­ning shop has on-site teach­ing stu­dio

Cape Coral Living - - Contents - Ann Marie O’Phe­lan is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to TOTI Me­dia. BY ANN MARIE O’PHE­LAN

As soon as you step in­side Karma and Co­conuts art bou­tique and gift shop in Cape Coral, you’re treated to a col­or­ful ar­ray of works by 85 lo­cal artists. There are paint­ings lin­ing the walls, pottery and drinkware spread out on ta­bles, and jew­elry, hand­bags and silks dan­gling off dis­plays. This trea­sure trove of in­ter­est­ing art­work was brought to­gether by Denise Ahlstrom, an artist in her own right, as well as the art bou­tique’s owner. “We just had our fourth birth­day,” she says en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. Since 2014, the es­tab­lish­ment has been the on­go­ing win­ner of “Best of Cape Coral” awards for best gift shop, best art bou­tique, and best classes. It was orig­i­nally lo­cated just a stone’s throw away from the cur­rent lo­ca­tion, un­til mov­ing last June. The new digs of­fer a more open at­mos­phere, big­ger front win­dows and a larger class­room. It’s of­ten packed with stu­dents of all ages in the work­shops and classes, learn­ing new art forms such as jew­elry mak­ing, bead­ing or fus­ing glass. Ad­di­tion­ally, “self-help” nights are of­fered on Tuesday, with classes such as feng shui. Par­ties and groups are also wel­come. Plus, the bou­tique now has a beer and wine li­cense. “Karma and Co­conuts is a unique art and gift bou­tique with a teach­ing stu­dio on-site. If you can dream it, we can cre­ate it ... and we can teach you how to cre­ate it, too!” ex­plains Ahlstrom. Twelve of her artists teach the classes and work­shops. The bou­tique also of­fers free com­mu­nity work­shops and helps or­ga­ni­za­tions raise money. It’s a venue for fundrais­ers, acts as a fundraiser col­lec­tion spot and has its own “Karma Cares Pro­gram.” Par­tic­i­pat­ing artists do­nate items and when the items are sold, the en­tire amount goes to the bou­tique’s cho­sen “non­profit of the month.” Orig­i­nally from Texas, the fam­ily moved to the area seven years ago, close to where Ahlstrom’s par­ents resided. Her hus­band, Kurt, is a pi­lot in Afghanistan, and they have two sons. Jake, 21, and Alex, 18, are both in col­lege, are Ea­gle Scouts and work as life­guards at Sun Splash. “We moved around a bit, but this is the first place where we all feel like it’s home,” Ahlstrom adds.

Denise Ahlstrom (top) with a young pupil at Karma and Co­conuts. At right, her shop sells a wide range of hand­made jew­elry and gives classes in jew­elry mak­ing. It also of­fers free com­mu­nity work­shops in fun ac­tiv­i­ties such as rock paint­ing. Ahlstrom...

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