Art Boutique Owner Denise Ahlstrom
Her unique, award-winning shop has on-site teaching studio
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...