Local Flavor: Sherry Riley

As part of our ongoing efforts to shine a light on some of the great businesses, creative personalities and notable community figures that make Gettysburg such a unique little town, we couldn’t help putting the focus on some of the talented artists whose work is being sold right here in Lark. 

This week’s artisan is Sherry Riley, whose colorful collection of handmade jewelry bags are made from an array of unique and colorful fabrics. As good for storing your favorite jewelry around the house as for taking it on the go, these bags are a must-have accessory for the organized woman who loves to travel.

We caught up with Sherry to find out how she got started, why sewing makes her happy and why she thinks Lark is the right fit for her bags.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Rexburg, Idaho. Rexburg is a small farming community in southeastern Idaho, and yes, they grow potatoes. It was positively the best place ever to grow up. It’s located right in the middle of the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, with Salt Lake City just three and a half hours to the south and Yellowstone Park an hour and a half to the north. I attended Madison High School and went on to attend Rick’s College, which went on to become Brigham Young University. I met my husband, Joe, who is from Gettysburg, after college, and I have lived in Pennsylvania ever since.

How did you get started making your jewelry bags?

I started making jewelry bags about 30 years ago, actually. I saw some travel jewelry bags in a boutique in Salt Lake City, then came home and developed a pattern of my own. I started by making them just as gifts for family and friends, in the beginning, then I became involved with a group of talented women who used to do an annual arts and crafts show at the Dobbin House. I made children and women’s clothing to sell and decided to add the jewelry bags to the mix. They were always a big hit.

You mentioned making clothing as well. So is sewing something you love to do?

I come from a long line of seamstresses and crafters. Both my grandmothers were quilters, crafters, and seamstresses, and my mother is the most beautiful seamstress I have ever known. Her sewing is definitely couture quality. I learned to sew when I first got married, and it has been my creative outlet ever since. I made my children’s clothing while they were growing up, and my made my daughter’s wedding dress, bridesmaids dresses, prom dresses and tons of clothing for my grandchildren, including their christening gowns. Now I make prom dresses for my granddaughters and I have also made clothing for clients. Beyond sewing, I love all kinds of crafting. Lately, I have really enjoyed paper crafting and card making. I’m always looking for new ideas and projects, but working with textiles and fabrics is definitely my favorite medium.

Last year your jewelry bags were featured in Susquehanna Style magazine as one of the products sold at Lark. What was that like for you?

Oh, it was fantastic. Seeing your product in the glossy papers of a magazine is quite a thrill. It gave me bragging rights for days. (Laughs.)

Why do you think Lark is a good fit for your bags?

I believe in supporting small businesses, and try to support them in any of the places I travel, as well as here at home. I also believe in supporting local and American artists, and I love that so many of the products sold at Lark are made not just in the states, but right here in Gettysburg. Also, I live in the same community, so it is easy to just pop in and check to see if the inventory is low and then run home and sew for a few hours to replenish the stock. But beyond all that, who wouldn’t want to be featured in Lark? The store is amazing. I was a faithful customer long before my jewelry bags became a part of its inventory, and I’m honored to be one of your featured artists on your website. How fun.