Weekly Feature

2015-12-09 / Business

Paisley Peacock connects local artisans with Kenmore community

by ETHAN POWERS Reporter

The Paisley Peacock prominently features the work of local artisans and crafters. 
Photo by Chuck SkipperPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com The Paisley Peacock prominently features the work of local artisans and crafters. Photo by Chuck SkipperPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com The symbolic significance of the peacock differs across cultures and civilizations. In ancient Greece, the peacock was a symbol of immortality. In early Christianity, the bird came to represent eternal life in heaven.

For Susanne Pampalona, the peacock is the embodiment of birth and new beginnings, and a reminder that the cosmos, in all of its ethereal infiniteness, is always filled with revelation.

Pampalona is the owner of the Paisley Peacock at 225 Highland Parkway in Kenmore, a store which sells artisan crafts and features local work. Yet her journey to opening a crafts store is anything but conventional.

A manager at a call center, Pampalona was planning to receive a teaching certificate in yoga and potentially start a holistic center and meditation studio. The universe had other plans, however. Upon switching doctors, some routine medical tests discovered that she had both lupus and cerebral small vessel brain disease, which had previously caused her to have mini-strokes, unbeknownst to her.

Adding to that life-altering diagnosis, a fall that she took had caused an injury to her spine, rendering useless her plans to be a yoga instructor.

“I switched gears, and I said, ‘OK, so what’s Plan B?’ And my other passion was being creative,” said Pampalona.

She investigated the possibility of going into business herself, which would allow her both the flexibility to take care of herself and her medical issues while following her dream of working in an environment that facilitated her creative side.

“Like a whirlwind, the storefront became available, and it was just too good to pass up,” she said. “It was truly everything that I needed. It had a studio space, it wasn’t too big to manage, it was within a mile and a half of my house. It was perfect.”

Pampalona began researching potential names for the store. She had always had an affinity for the colors of a peacock’s tail. When she began researching the folklore on the creature itself, she realized that the implications were not far from her own story of renewal.

The sentimentality of her narrative doesn’t end there.

She spent 11 months renovating the property and opened last October. A male friend of hers graciously offered to help with the renovations, knowing that Pampalona had suffered a spinal injury. It was during that renovation process that the two fell in love and are now planning a wedding.

“So, I found myself; I found love at the Paisley Peacock. You can find just about anything here,” says Pampalona with laughter.

Now, Pampalona operates an artisan crafts shop that is the first of its kind in the community. About 85 percent of the store, Pampalona says, is the handiwork of local artisans, many of whom display their work at the Canalside Artisan Market during the summer months. That handiwork is showcased at the Paisley Peacock in the form of ceramics, soaps, lamps, jewelry and photography, and a number of the pieces are Buffalo-themed.

Pampalona combined her business educational background and her experience working in retail to operate the store, which she now considers a second home. To her, connecting people to crafts that are so meticulously made is a form of payment in and of itself.

“I think shopping should be an experience. It’s convenient to go online, but I think something is lost when you do that,” she said.

Pampalona recently had a woman come in who was searching for something related to fishing. The woman told her that she goes on a fishing excursion in Canada every year along with eight other women.

Pampalona suggested making them picture frames to memorialize their trips, which she then decorated with pink fishing lures and a map of the place where the trip is held.

It was a prime example of the benefits of the face-to-face shopping encounter.

“I think from being a crafter myself, I know what people put into their work. It’s not just paint. It’s not just wood,” she said. “When you’re working on a piece, you’re in a zone and you’re feeling it. So you really are putting your energy and your focus and emotions into whatever it is you’re working on, and that comes through in your work.”

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