When Jennifer Robinson pictured opening her store of sewn goods in Langley, she didn’t quite envision it would be during a pandemic. Nor did she think she would be sewing quite so many masks.
Robinson’s business, the Blue Peony, has existed since 2008, but in July she opened her first storefront in Langley.
Her retail store of handmade goods occupies what used to be half of Sprinklz. Gone are the black-and-white checkered floors, and now hardwood flooring — and so much more fabric — is in its place.
Within the Blue Peony, customers can find a plethora of infinity scarves, reusable bags, dish towels, aprons featuring “hunks” gardening and, yes, masks galore.
“I joke with some of my customers that I’ll have to re-learn their names once all the masks come off,” Robinson said.
Robinson and her husband Matt, both former Floridians, fell in love with Whidbey while honeymooning in the Pacific Northwest. They have been Langley residents for nearly three years.
“I had wanted a storefront in Langley pretty much since we moved here,” Robinson said. “I thought, in my romanticized head, it’s the perfect quaint little town, the perfect main street.”
The seamstress got her chance when the space on First Street came up for rent. She acknowledged, however, that the situation may not have always looked rosy.
“When we opened during the pandemic, we just assumed that it was going to be really tough,” Robinson said.
A definite downside of the pandemic is customers not being able to touch and feel the fabric of the products as much. Robinson is also keeping her distance and as a result isn’t able to help people try things on, something she had been looking forward to.
Despite this, she is remaining optimistic as fall and winter, her favorite seasons, are approaching.
“I have tremendous faith in the locals here that they will help the businesses to get through this by shopping locally,” Robinson said.
Color is a big part of Robinson’s work.
“I love color and pattern,” she said. “I think color makes you happy on really gray days.”
Robinson strives to highlight other artists in her store. Besides the many fabric items made by her, there are also ceramic vases, handwoven baskets and little treasure boxes made by others.
“It was important to me, when I opened, to celebrate the small artist,” she said.
And soon, an affordable line of luxury skincare products will also be coming to the Blue Peony. Matt Robinson owns a microbiology lab and has been experimenting with local ingredients, such as seaweed.
Some day, Robinson said she would like to teach sewing lessons when the pandemic is no longer a concern.