Gottingen Street, once a booming retail district where Glubes Furniture was a star, might one day be again. Though it's bound to look and feel different when it does, with new condos, the Plan B co-op store and just opened in August, NovaAfrican Designs & Artifacts.
The shop is the inspiration of Shelly Muchayi (picture above), who since 2006 has been operating her business out of a van, displaying her wares--- jewellery and other Africa-inspired work---and food at the Halifax Farmers' Market. Her Gottingen Street shop reflects both elements.
She discovered her gift in Dartmouth. "I used to work at Convergys," she says. "In between calls, because you wait for calls to come in, I had the thought of crocheting a necklace. Then I made earrings. I started working on my skills from there. I didn't even know that there were tools for making jewellery. I used to use my fingers, and the nails were all chipped."
It was the encouragement of friends and customers that pushed her towards opening the store. She went into the former Good Food Emporium hoping to use their kitchen in the off-hours to prepare her food, and discovered they were moving. "It was perfect for me."
On a sunny fall afternoon, the store/eatery is filled with sunlight, the discrete odours of delicious rice, chicken and vegetarian dishes. The art and craftwork is also prominent.
"It's not bad at all," she says. "People are coming in. Not as much as I want, but I think I'll get somewhere. I just need to get people in to work with me. Hopefully I can get help from the government, with subsidized employees." --CK