A downtown ladies boutique is closing its doors to move in the direction of a local artisan-based shop.
8 Petals, located next to the UPS Store on North Main Street, sells upscale women’s clothing, shoes and locally made jewelry and candles. The store has been open since November 2012, but will be closing its doors by the end of August.
Instead of closing due to financial difficulties, owner Jane Ellen Cranwell of Blacksburg has had a lot of things change in her life recently, and says that her priorities have shifted.
“I didn’t want to be tied down to that store anymore,” Cranwell said.
However, instead of just calling it quits, Cranwell decided to close 8 Petals to move some of its wares to a location behind the original store. The new store will face the Blacksburg Farmers Market and be located adjacent to Excellent Table and the Blacksburg Farmers Market office and storefront.
The new shop will be called Sutol, which is the name of Cranwell’s already popular organic candle brand. She explained that Sutol is “lotus” spelled backward, and it is pronounced “subtle.”
She was drawn to the lotus because it has a special meaning to her. After weathering a lot of adversity over the past few years with the loss of loved ones, the lotus flower stands as a sign of hope and renewal.
“A lotus starts growing in the mud, and continues to grow in the light,” Cranwell said. “There’s significance to why the candles are called that. The whole (process and product) has a lot of meaning to me.”
Sutol will offer some of the popular items originally sold in 8 Petals, such as fashion scarves and a line of seamless, sports and bandeau bras. In addition to the candles that Cranwell and her sister Kitty Branch produce, Sutol will also sell handcrafted jewelry made by one of her current sales associates.
Brittany Folcik has been working at 8 Petals for the past three months. She moved to the area to start school at the Blue Ridge School of Massage and Yoga. She believes the new location will be beneficial for Sutol and its handcrafted, locally-made wares.
“I think it’ll help to be back there with the farmers market,” Folcik said.
Ellen Stewart, the market director of the Blacksburg Farmers Market agrees that the farmers market may benefit the new store.
“There’s a lot of potential in the famers market base,” said Stewart. “Since we’ve opened up our own storefront, we have had a good flow of people coming through all throughout the week, not just when the actual market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. (Sutol) would probably be of interest to the people who come to the farmers market.”
Going from selling high-end women’s clothing to handmade candles and jewelry is quite a shift on the retail spectrum. Cranwell explained that although she enjoyed owning 8 Petals, she just didn’t feel right selling the expensive clothing. The candle making is meaningful to her, and it brings her a lot of fulfillment. She hopes that her candles and other handcrafted wares will bring the same happiness to her customers that they do to her.
“Women loved (the clothing) and they bought them, but then they’d worry about how much money they had just spent,” Cranwell said. “At Sutol, I want people to feel great when they leave. I want them to come in and buy things that enrich them, not something that will leave them struggling with the purchase. A little bit of love goes into each of those candles. It’s fulfilling for me, and I hope it will be for the people who buy them.”