One truly never knows what they might find at TAGS Consignment Boutique on East F Street in Oakdale.
From Prada shoes to Betsy Johnson bags, snow gear to cowboy boots the local consignment shop maintains a standard of providing an eclectic mix of apparel, accessories and gift items. While the selection of items on the sales floor may vary from day to day, owners Sandy Reed and Tanya Bruchacek along with their staff, make it a priority for the store to be merchandised with more of a boutique feel than a thrift store appeal.
“We’re business people first,” Reed said of the store’s presentation standards. “Our customers expecting to see something fabulous.
“We merchandise with what we have.”
And what they ‘have’ appears to be what has customers returning not only to consign, but also to hunt for that perfect piece missing from their wardrobe.
Entering their fourth year of business, the two women have not only maintained the standards of budget friendly, they have also continued to provide an opportunity for talented women to showcase their talents.
Among the Abercrombie T-shirts, Banana Republic coats and Coach wallets, one will also find uniquely handcrafted accessory pieces crafted by local women.
Their backgrounds are as different as their work. Past employment as a medical assistant, auto retailer, makeup artist and office supply employee is once how these four ladies spent their days. Now, in addition to the demands of their everyday lives as wives, mothers and care providers, they spend their ‘down time’ designing one of a kind jewelry.
Dawn Norris proclaims to have always had her hands in crafting.
“I’ve been crafting pretty much since I was born,” the mother of three shared, adding that from a young age she was inspired by her family to be creative and craft, citing her mother, father and grandmother each as ‘crafty people.’
She also shared that from an early age she developed a love for glitter, earning her the nickname by family and friends as ‘glitter girl,’ which has now evolved to ‘glitter mama.’
Norris first began her relationship with TAGS a year ago after being encouraged by a friend to share her items with the store. The relationship began with ‘Mustang’ inspired pieces for the OHS crowd. The crafter places images on anything from bottle caps to Scrabble tiles, but especially enjoys working with polymer clay.
“I love the bottle caps,” she said of her medium choices. “They were originally a scrapbooking embellishment … I always felt bad about throwing them away.
“Eventually (collecting them) became a great project for the kids. We would rescue them from the lake,” she added.
The task served as a great way to occupy her daughters Chloe, 9, Paige, 5 and Riley, 3, as she and her husband would pack up to return home.
“I’m not going to say that I am super green, but I like to think I’m considerate,” she said.
Following the guidance of the team at TAGS, in late fall Norris began producing Twilight inspired pieces. Images of the cast purchased from an on-line resource and identifiable quotes were placed on everything from rings, earrings, pendants and key chains.
“I’ve been so busy with TAGS and three other consignment stores,” Norris said of her Twilight work. “Literally that’s all they’ve been asking for this whole year.”
The stay at home mom indicated that while she is busy, it is a good busy. Norris shared that while she enjoys the perks of the extra money or ‘ice cream money,’ as she calls it, the work also keeps her connected to who she is.
“I did this before they came along,” she said of crafting prior to becoming a mom.
“The other part is that now my husband is really able to see my potential,” she added. “For him to see what I am capable of doing now, is also really rewarding.”
As for the team at TAGS that supports her and keeps her connected to the outside world, Norris said, “I love them. I love being a part of the town in this way.”
And she is already busy on the trend for spring.
“Now they want to see Alice,” she said of Alice and Wonderland. “Alice is now the next big thing.”
Norris’ work can also be seen at www.glitter.etsy.com
A Hippie Romantic
Melissa Nethercott of Riverbank was the first employee hired by Reed and Bruchacek shortly after opening their boutique in 2006.
The mother of two, Chloe, 11 and Hannah, 8, shared that after eight years of being dedicated 100 percent to her children the job helped her regain balance.
“I was sort of wrapped up in just being a mom,” she said. “I home school and you know you have to find your identity.”
During that search, Nethercott shared that at the age of 30 she began taking ballet lessons.
“My idea is more trying everything you possibly can so you don’t miss anything,” she said.
And in keeping with trying everything, Nethercott began creating. A self-proclaimed fan of the Twilight series, it serves as inspiration to her jewelry pieces.
“I make stuff that might have been worn in their time period,” she said. “I’m in to the vampire thing and I love anything recycled.”
Using her love of recycling as her springboard, Nethercott began making recycled purses and T-shirt scarves. Since the pieces are made of recycled clothing pieces there are no two that are the same.
“It’s statistically impossible,” Reed said of Nethercott’s pieces. “There will never be another one.”
“I’m all over the place,” Nethercott said of her pieces and inspirations. “I just like having something that nobody has. It’s really fun.”
Demonstrating this fact, Reed produced a shirt, which Nethercott had recently repurposed and brought into the shop. Keeping her personal likes and dislikes in mind, Nethercott pieced together the top portion of a structured poplin blouse with a baby doll top knit bottom, putting a funky twist on a traditional piece.
“I make what I like,” she said. “I make what appeals to me and hopefully it will appeal to someone else.
“It’s really fun when someone likes your stuff,” Nethercott added. “The biggest thing I love is when someone is like ‘I love this piece of jewelry’ and it’s only 12 bucks.”
Nethercott’s pieces can also be found on Etsy at www.etsy.com/shop/467designs
Alicia Vizenor loves to accessorize. The jewelry designer describes herself as a ‘lifetime lover of all things shiny and unique.’ As a teenager if she could not find an item she was looking for, she would find the resources and create it for herself.
Several years ago, while shopping in Newport Beach she stumbled upon a designer that she not only loved, but felt inspired by.
“I love everything that she does,” she said of designer Tarina Tarantino. “I like accessories that are fun and make a statement.
“I like pieces that kind of speak your personality.”
Vizenor also became inspired by a few steampunk pieces. Steampunk has been described as mechanical inspired pieces with a Victorian edge. In some social circles it is a movement, which first began in the late 1980s. It is also described as “Neo-Victorianism.”
“Steampunk can be extremely expensive,” she said. “Which is why I describe my pieces as steampunk inspired/steampunk style.”
The ‘inspired’ pieces Vizenor speaks of are multi-layered, marrying the scrolling metals of the Victorian era with mechanical pieces taken from the guts of a watch or small clock.
“I started with making pieces that are fun, but don’t look outlandish on me,” she said.
Like the other pieces offered at TAGS, Vizenor’s steampunk pieces are all one of a kind. The only piece she has ever duplicated was one that she sold off her neck to a customer that fell in love with it.
“I asked Tanya to please take a picture of it before we sold it,” she said. “It just had pieces on it that I really loved.”
For Vizenor, the idea is to add something unique to the overall effect.
“I’ve always believed why accessorize if no one is going to notice,” she said. “I only sell pieces that I would personally wear.”
Vizenor’s pieces can be viewed at www.etsy.com/shop/467designs
Aside from a beading class at an Arts and Crafts Supply store, Joan Gockel has no formal training in jewelry making. Her passion for her craft began over five years ago after receiving a handmade piece from a family member.
Encouraged to try to do it herself, Gockel picked up a book and began reading.
The jewelry maker now produces work made of natural stones and pearls, both precious and semiprecious. She custom makes pieces for TAGS and a few other boutiques in the Bay Area, as well as sells higher end items on her website.
The mother of four sons shared while she has always dabbled in something, raising her four sons (who are now grown) kept her constantly busy.
“This is my salvation,” she said of her love for jewelry making. “The business has grown. Business is steady.
“Even if I never sold another piece of jewelry I would be compelled to make it. It’s sort of a gift.”
Gockel’s ‘gift’ is apparent in how she combines metals and stones, abstract discarded pieces reworked and given new life. She admitted to watching the fashion magazines to keep herself up to speed with what is current, as well as making pieces for TAGS when customers are in search of certain items.
“I just love everything,” she said of the stones she transforms to jewelry. “I can’t think of anything more desirable than this.”
Gockel starts each day in her home based studio, sifting through stones and trinkets waiting to be inspired.
According to Gockel, she is inspired by the stones.
“I have never made two of anything,” she posted on her website, www.JEF-Jewels.com. “Each piece is original. Even if I wanted to duplicate something, nature being what it is would make that impossible.”
The designer stated that her necklace pieces range in length from 16 to 20 inches. She also makes rings, earrings and bracelets.
While the average piece may take her 45 minutes to construct, it could be days before it is transformed from concept on her layout board to actual jewelry.
All of Gockel’s resources are Internet based. The designer shared she does not use any manmade materials other than the metals. The stones are all natural. She uses no plastic or synthetic beading.
The self-taught jewelry maker can also hold her own when discussing the varying stones and the intrinsic details of their character.
“They inspire me,” she said.
Gockel also does commission work, another venue she enjoys. Sitting with a client and discussing their vision and their budget helps the designer in creating unique one of a kind pieces for her clients.
In addition to her lower priced pieces at TAGS, her work can be viewed and purchased at www.JEF-jewels.com. Showings are also available by appointment on weekends at her in home boutique. For additional information e-mail JEFemail@example.com.