Journey through an artisan’s looking glass
The wooden door squeaks open and a bell echos lightly across old red brick walls. Eight-year-old Arnold barks at the next guest entering the bright, plant-filled Old Soul Thrift and Consignment Shop. He escapes from his bed, tucked behind the counter, and runs through a wooden gate. He trots under the hanging plant, pads past a floral folded fan, or “sensu,” and whisks by the upcycled treasures that hang on the walls. Gilbert, a shiny blue betta, swishes his tail and swims behind plants in a large glass vase on the counter. This isn’t the first time his best buddy has been excited to see a regular.
The 29-year-old shop owner, KT Teany, stands at the counter clad in a pair of light mocha corduroy pants and a white T-shirt. She casually nods her head at the quiet vendor walking in with another one of his black and white prints. She welcomes him in, and the two talk like old pals. The shop is home to more than one of Alex Reiter’s unique pieces.
Teany’s business has come a long way since she first rented the space. Over a year ago, a yoga studio operated there. Teany, who was once an attendee of the studio, noticed the space’s availability in January of 2020 while scrolling on Facebook. The Ghent, New York native envisioned her dream coming to life in the vacant storefront. She wanted to showcase art forms that are less common, such as plant and insect based jewelry, vegetable themed pottery, wooden rings derived from skateboard decks, miniature animal figurine pottery and more.
“I started looking at the store and [thought], ‘What would I put in there?’ ” Teany says. “I started thinking about all the things that make me happy: plants, music, thrifted stuff, made-by-hand-art.”
Last March, Teaney felt stagnant and wanted a significant change, so she decided to rent the shop. Although unsure how to set up, she was ecstatic to get her foot in the door.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” Teaney says. “I found that you don’t always have to know answers. I think they sort of come to you as you’re doing it.”
Teaney began renting in August 2020. She has passion and ambition to shine a light on unique sculptors, painters, knitters, photographers and upcyclers.
“I think for the folks that come into this space, it’s just been nice to have something that’s different from Plattsburgh,” Teaney says. “This isn’t something that has been here before, if maybe anywhere. It’s cool to feel like people are excited, and it’s always changing.”
After months setting up shop, she officially opened Oct. 2, 2020. Teany began reaching out to talented Plattsburgh artisans whose pieces fit in with the store’s unique decor. As word spread of her shop, she created an application that people could fill out through Instagram to be featured. Teaney originally started with 10 artisans. Now, she has gained more than 30.
Teaney works to give back to the vendors that invest their time and art into her shop. When selling an artisan’s item, she gives the buyer the artisan’s business card to promote them. Artisans can use Teany to network in the community.
Teany, says Ryelyn McKay, a metal and gemstone jeweler running Ryelyn by Design, “has definitely gotten me a lot of business. Her big idea was to promote local artists.”
McKay, a Plattsburgh native, met Teaney more than a year ago. At the time, she was sitting at the Monopole, which Teaney manages. They struck up a conversation about art, women in business and Teaney’s idea to open a shop of her own. They exchanged business cards and reunited a few weeks later.
While Teaney was renovating the current space that Old Soul occupies, McKay walked in. She reintroduced herself and expressed a strong eagerness to be involved. Teaney was ecstatic to work with McKay, and she became the first vendor at the shop.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, “Old Soul has been kind of like a light in the dark,” McKay says.
Old Soul has provided McKay with a new outlet to sell her jewelry. Many of these pieces contain crystal and rock materials, such as labradorite, chinese turquoise, rainbow moonstone and more. Her necklaces, rings and bracelets are all made from sustainably sourced materials such as copper, recycled leather and old silver.
“I want people… to feel wonderful when they put it on and feel positive. I want them to look in the mirror and go, ‘I feel good right now’,” McKay says.
It’s a lovely feeling for Teaney to sell these items as well. Her business continues to expand, and it continues to shine a spotlight on artisans in the darkness of the ongoing pandemic.
A dream she hopes to accomplish, in the near future, is to drive across the country to bring back items from other talented individuals and fill the shop with their work.
“This space is building so many new meaningful connections with people I didn’t even know existed in the community,” Teaney said, smiling. “Allowing me to feel like I’m changing their day, their business, their life — that’s a beautiful thing. I am very, very humble and I’m very, very honored for the things that have happened for me.”
After a day of greeting awe-filled guests, Arnold tucks back into his hidden bed. The golden light escapes the store and a dimmer shade settles in. Last minute guests browse vintage vinyl and smell the $5 OVAL craft homemade soap. Inside Old Soul, there’s always a hand-crafted treasure to discover.
Story by Jessica Johnson