New Origin Shop supports indie artisans and small business through expertly curated goods.
By Jess Bugg, Photos courtesy of Sierra Lewis
Sierra Lewis is the founder of New Origin Shop, an independently owned boutique located in the Hill Country Galleria. In addition to her own brand, in which she creates minimal, modern, fiber-based wares, the shop specializes in curated products sourced from other indie brands that share the shop’s aesthetics and core values. “I want to use the platform and community I’ve created to highlight other really amazing Black-owned, women-owned and sustainably focused businesses.”
Artists at Work
Lewis first started crocheting as a creative outlet and hobby. It soon turned into a business after she started selling her items on Etsy. As a maker herself, Lewis appreciates the work that goes into each piece she brings into the shop, often sharing the maker’s story with her customers. “Whatever opportunities I’ve been blessed with, I want for others too. I want to see even more doors open for others like me.”
Operating at pop-up markets and as an online storefront since 2017, Lewis, along with her brother and husband, officially opened New Origin Shop as a brick-and-mortar last fall. “For myself and other Black women that I’ve talked to, a big challenge is finding opportunities and generating enough starting capital. For me, my opportunities came from putting myself out there as much as possible—even when I was scared to.” New Origin Shop generated a lot of love and support from the community, and an extremely successful GoFundMe campaign assisted with some of the upfront cost. They were also able to keep costs down by doing the design work themselves.
The store’s aesthetic alone is worth a visit. With brightly colored geometric shapes adorning the walls, it feels akin to walking through a life-size Matisse. Lewis’ husband played a major role in designing elements of the store. “A lot of the heavy lifting, figuratively and literally, came from my husband. He’s been helping me with my brand and marketing since day one.”
Lewis and her team worked hard to not only bring the store to life but to create a full experience for their customers. “We even keep French lavender bundles in stock and burn our favorite candles so that your sense of smell feels joy.”
Supporting Small Business
Originally from Baltimore, Lewis and her husband moved to Austin six years ago by way of New York City. Looking for a change of pace, they fell in love with the city after a single visit. “There’s a charm about the city and the people here.”
She also appreciates the city’s interest in helping small businesses thrive. “It’s harder than ever for small businesses to stay afloat. It has become more important to shop small in these past couple of years because it directly affects the livelihoods of so many talented makers, businesses and artists.”
Lewis has focused on areas that many small businesses struggle with. “The products I carry have to be within a certain price point—in addition to gelling with the shop’s aesthetic and sustainable philosophy. I also offer online orders, shipping and curbside pickup. We have a rewards program that offers discounts and gifts to repeat customers. I want to keep the heart of a small business while giving customers the convenience they’ve experienced with bigger brands.”
New Origin Shop is launching workshops this month. “We’re excited to bring the New Origin Shop team’s collective knowledge of jewelry making, crafting and more to everyone. We have a workshop room ready to go. We’re even looking into doing digital workshops with some of our nonlocal makers.”
Lewis is also planning to expand, potentially opening a second location either here in Austin or in her hometown of Baltimore. Her advice to other women of color hoping to launch their own business, “Everything that you need to launch your dream you already possess within you. With the help of your intuition, put yourself out there, create and seize every opportunity you think aligns with your business. Research, research, research. And when you’ve reached your capacity, seek guidance, advice and mentorship from peers and other professionals. Create what you love and remain consistent.”
Asking Lewis to choose between products is like asking someone to choose between children. While her favorites extend to the entirety of the shop, here are a few products she is especially enjoying this month.
Right now, my favorite tea that we carry is the Queendom Reign blend of Modestine Tea. It’s calming and slightly fruity with its notes of ginger and orange.
I can’t talk about tea without talking about all of the beautiful mugs we carry! Right now, everyone seems to love the Acid Cow design from the GHW (Good Hearted Woman) line of ceramic mugs.
I guess I’m going with a winter theme right now. My next pick is this neck wrap from Slow North, another maker/shop here in Austin. I like to pop this into the microwave for a few seconds, then drape it across my neck and shoulders. It really helps relax the muscles after a long day at the shop.
Rover & Kin make some of my favorite statement earrings. They’re a fair-trade company that handcrafts all of their pieces in India. Each earring comes with the name of the person who made it.
Back to the winter theme! As I mentioned, I started New Origin Shop with crochet, so these crochet blankets are really special to me. I’m so happy that they seem to be popular with my customers. I make them to order, but if you’re lucky, you may find a couple of them on our store shelves.