City-county holiday boutique open to public for first time this year | AspenTimes.com

City-county holiday boutique open to public for first time this year

There's a holiday boutique featuring handmade items that's been around for 15 years, but this will be the first year community members and visitors will get to see it.

The Aspen Holiday Boutique is a small market that sells items and artwork all handmade by the city of Aspen and Pitkin County staff.

Until this year, the event was purely internal and was neither advertised nor open to anyone other than city and county employees.

City Geographic Information System manager Mary Lackner started the boutique with a former county colleague sometime between 2000 and 2002, she estimates.

During hikes with their dogs, Lackner said the two would talk about possibly sharing or selling their artwork with people they knew.

Lackner created her own jewelry and her co-worker stained glass.

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"We knew other people who made art, as well, so we brainstormed this idea and said, 'Hey, let's do a holiday boutique,'" Lackner said.

Some of the boutique's retailers have been involved in the boutique from its beginning — like assistant to the city manager Rebecca Hodgson, who has sold products from her Mountain Meadow Naturals line since the boutique started.

Mountain Meadow Naturals products, which range from aromatherapy herbal remedies to skin-care products and handmade soaps, are all locally made, Hodgson said.

Hodgson also is selling scarves that she recently learned how to knit.

The scarves have a unique knitting pattern that creates what appears to be and serves as almost a "mini hood," she said.

City senior environmental health specialist Jannette Whitcomb will sell her unique headbands, as well.

Whitcomb describes her headbands, which are made from a cotton material and come in all different colors, as "on the side of a do-rag."

She said she was inspired by a headband design that she saw while vacationing in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

"I like to make handmade gifts, so whatever doesn't sell, I'll give as gifts," Whitcomb said.

One of Whitcomb's favorite gifts at the boutique is Lackner's "amazing" jewelry.

Lackner said she makes earrings and necklaces that she fabricates and cuts herself.

"It's mostly hand-constructed," Lackner said. "Mainly the earrings are made out of metal, silver and copper, as well as some beaded stuff, but not that much."

The holiday boutique will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the Red Brick Center for the Arts conference room.

Cookies and light refreshments will be served and there will be a raffle, Lackner said.