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Anthology Sparks the Creativity of the Madison Community

By Pamela Sosnowski

"I'm not creative" is something that Laura Komai hears a lot from her customers, but she is more than happy to prove them wrong. Komai and her sister Sachi are the owners of Anthology, their Madison-based craft store that they opened in 2008. The store hosts card and button making workshops and sells craft supplies, gifts, and finished products by local and indie artists.

"My sister and I worked together at a local gift shop but we saw a gap in terms of creative inspiration," Komai said of the shop's beginnings. "The goal of Anthology was really to invite people to think about themselves as creative, just to dip their toes in, and also to showcase the creativity of various people, ourselves included."

At Anthology, customers will find an array of crafting accessories and finished products such as greeting cards, stamps, stickers, jewelry, mugs, t-shirts, and more. The items are displayed on vintage furniture and even hang from antique typewriter components, adding to the shop's homey atmosphere. At any given time the products of over 100 featured artists may be available for sale in the store.

The sisters grew up in Madison, usually making something with their hands whether it was curling ribbon and making bows for presents or creating note cards. Being raised by a librarian mother who was also an artist and a scientist father sparked their curiosity about the world and an interest in creativity from an early age.

Laura and Sachi Komai believe in giving back to the local community because of the artistic opportunities available to them as children. In addition to supporting local artists and donating to non-profits, they're teaching their skills to the next generation of budding artists.

"We enjoyed our public school education, the Art Cart, classes at University of Wisconsin extension, a wealth of time and knowledge that organizations and members of the community shared with us," Komai said. "We feel it is important to pay it forward to the next generation to inspire and facilitate creativity through the public schools and public libraries, and through various community centers and art programs."

Anthology offers classes in making greeting cards (Valentine's Day and Mother's Day card making is available for two weeks leading up to each holiday) and button making classes. The fees include supplies and instruction. They also offer craft projects at the shop for reserved private parties. Past projects have included decoupage mirrors, journal binding, and button bracelets. These private workshops are limited to a maximum of six people and are appropriate for ages eight and up. These projects can usually be completed in a couple of hours, and the sisters have also been offering classes at local libraries to provide space for more participants.

Komai says that the shop has really started to expand in recent years as more customers discover everything that it has to offer.

"In the last couple years, we've added more part-timers and as the store has grown; this has enabled us to spend a little more time in our own studios," she said. "My sister in particular has been really prolific this year and has come out with over a dozen new card designs. We are pretty competitive so we kind of push each other to keep creating and coming up with new work for the store."

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