Delicately painted glass, artfully thrown ceramics, and meticulously stitched leatherwork are just some of the handcrafted items you will find at Handmade by LMAC (Local Makers, Artists, and Crafters), an aesthete’s paradise brought to life by local artist Veronika Amaya.
“I’ve been an artist since childhood,” Amaya thoughtfully said, as she smoothed out a crocheted baby sweater on display. “For the past 20 years, I sold my work at farmers markets and festivals but once the weather gets bad, you lose business because people can’t find you.”
The vision for Handmade by LMAC was sparked by Amaya’s desire to create her own maker space because she didn’t feel inspired when participating in regional pop-ups and art shows. With an entrepreneurial mindset and encouragement from her husband, Amaya was able to find and secure a space for her new business but had to postpone the lease signing by one day due to a terrible headache. The very next day, everything was shuttered because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I started looking for another space once things started opening again,” reflected Amaya. “I was so happy to land my first space at Dulles Town Center. It was a 2,400 square foot space by Macy’s, and I wanted it to be a full store. I had six makers at the time, but they couldn’t make enough products to fill the space. The mall was still dealing with the retail loss from COVID and was worried that, as a small business, I wouldn’t be on the same level as the stores I was surrounded by and wouldn’t attract enough customers.”
The obstacles Amaya faced only fanned the flames of her drive toward success. While the majority of her customers thought the store was a great concept, there was one who stood out.
“One day, an older gentleman came in and we started chatting. I learned that he was a CFO for some company, and he complimented my products,” she recalled. “But then, he told me that he didn’t see me lasting for six months and I was devastated. I believed him and after he left, I cried. He was the first person to make me cry and that pushed me to continue on. Success became my goal.”
Amaya reimagined her retail strategy, weeding out hobbyists and seeking professional makers who create unique and high-quality products and could provide the store with enough inventory to fill demand. She also had to convince artists whom she had never met before to trust her with consignment since she did not have the revenue to purchase and resell products. Amaya worked 16-20 hours per day because she had no employees, and, leaning on her background in graphic design and marketing, redesigned her store to display more than one of the same item. She began bringing in her makers once a month to work and learn the retail experience and ultimately, her pivot paid off. By the end of 2021, Handmade by LMAC was overflowing with inventory, success was a heartbeat away, and Amaya was outgrowing her space.
In 2022, Amaya found her current Dulles Town Center location – a 9,000 square foot space at a busy intersection and only steps from the food court. At present, Amaya features creations from over 100 makers in the DMV, with 48 of them in Loudoun and 16 from out of state. There are only four to six makers in each category to reduce competition and each item has only 50 days to sell before it is returned to the maker. Creations include original painted works, handmade jewelry, ceramics, unique clothing and accessories, woodcrafts, essential oils, one-of-a-kind notebooks, hanging baskets, pet toys, and so much more.
Amaya’s tenacity pushes her through even in the face of doubt. In May 2023, she opened an additional, short-term location in One Loudoun. Initially, her goal was to offer less inventory there and encourage customers to patronize her Dulles Town Center location. However, inventory at One Loudoun was in demand and she now has products that are unique to each location.
Amaya still envisions more for Handmade by LMAC, including giving back to her community. She has participated in fundraising for literacy and wants to eventually host an art show for Virginia artists because she feels that makers need to be recognized by their own communities.
“Handmade attracts people,” said Amaya. “That’s why I started this business. I want to keep things in the community and support the local economy. It’s not easy but it has been worth it. I want to be in business for many more years. I tell myself, ‘If you want something, you just have to work hard. Even if someone makes you cry, just keep going.’”
Handmade by LMAC’s Dulles Town Center location is open Monday – Saturday, 11 am – 7 pm and Sundays 11 am – 6 pm. The One Loudoun location is open seven days a week, 12-7 pm.
To learn more about Handmade by LMAC, visit their website at handmadebylmac.com.