New stores peddle everything from panini to paintings – and more |

New stores peddle everything from panini to paintings – and more

Greg Schreier
Jolien Illouz arranges toys in her store, NL Kids, recently. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

Are you a hungry, art-loving parent of small children with bad skin?If you fit that bill – or even just a piece of it – there are a few new stores in town hoping you’ll wander in. The summer brought the opening of NL Kids, Aspen Leaf Soap Factory, Gorilla Gallery and the Rodrigue Gallery in Aspen. Plus, Fuel in Snowmass has been establishing itself since December.NL Kids – using the code for the Netherlands – specializes in suiting up babies and toddlers in Dutch attire, as well as threads and toys from Switzerland and Sweden. The store is at 400 E. Hyman Ave., and most of the clothing comes from the Netherlands, while toys and some other accessories come from all over Europe and some from America.”Living in Aspen for 10 years, I always had difficulty buying gifts,” said Dutch proprietor Jolien Illouz, who opened the shop on June 15. “I just felt there was a need for it.”Illouz said she always got compliments on the Dutch clothes she ordered for her own child. So she decided the European style might be a hot item since it doesn’t have many of the animal designs and other patterns characteristic of American baby clothes.”There are more bold colors, brighter colors,” Illouz said. “It’s more modern, more to the contemporary side.”She also carries simple toys, many wooden, along with furniture, strollers and high chairs. Illouz also hopes to later carry clothes and accessories for kids as old as 6.

Just a few steps away in the same building sits the Aspen Leaf Soap Factory, a kitchen for various soaps, lotions, makeup and other skin-care products. When co-owner Terrie Small got fed up with products that irritated her skin so much, she decided to look at the ingredients. “Every product on the market just made me worse,” Small said.

There were plenty of chemicals, so she decided to make her own lotions and soap au naturale. She and daughter Keely Tuttle started selling them at the summer farmers market. When they got a positive response, the next step was opening a shop where they could sell and make their own soaps.”We call this our skin deli,” Small said, pointing to a counter filled with oils like extra-virgin olive oil – her main ingredient in most everything – and herbs like rose hips and jasmine. And if the premade lip balms and soaps don’t cut it, customers can pick and choose exactly what kind of oils and herbs they want.Just up the street on Hyman, next door to Little Annie’s, is the Gorilla Gallery, which will also function as a working studio for local artists. Proprietor Jonathan Martin is still recruiting artists for the four workspaces, and he hopes to have a dozen artists selling their work there.Martin moved to Aspen about 18 years ago and has worked in galleries for most of that time. He hopes to have all kinds of art – photography, mixed media and even conceptual artists. He’s learned first hand how hard it can be for an artist in Aspen, where local artists tend to be the exception, not the rule.”It was heartbreaking [running a gallery] … I had so many people who wanted to show their work, but it wasn’t always viable to take on,” Martin said.

He hopes local patrons will support local artists, especially since they can meet the artists in person much more easily.”It’s usually pretty clinical,” Martin said. “You don’t usually meet the artist.”Also in town is artist George Rodrigue, known for his “Blue Dog” series of paintings. Rodrigue calls New Orleans home but has a gallery in a different city each summer. “We’ve been looking at Aspen for a long time,” Rodrigue said. He also wasn’t sure if this gallery would be temporary, or if he’d look at keeping it long term.His blue dog is based on a French-Cajun legend passed down to him about a werewolf-dog. He had typically painted Cajun scenes and scenes of New Orleans folklore, but the blue dog was a chance to branch out.

“It became a symbol,” Rodrigue said. “Something different, something I could comment on life today with.”And if you get hungry after decorating that white wall, there’s a new affordable spot in Snowmass. Fuel serves everything from breakfast burritos to panini and wraps. Customers will also find smoothies, espresso drinks and coffee from Telluride-based Steaming Bean Coffee Co.”The menu’s designed to present a variety of things,” said co-owner Marty Swanson. His girlfriend, Jenny Smith, came up with the ideas for the menu while Swanson used his 16 years of experience working in restaurants and bars to handle some of the more technical aspects. The pair planned everything pretty easily – the hard part was picking a name.Fuel wasn’t well-received at first, but after a while the name just stuck, Swanson said.”It fits what we’re doing,” he said. “Fuel for your body and mind.”Greg Schreier’s e-mail address is

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.