Kristen Fox-Smelser was in business for 10 years making batik clothing, before she took the leap to open her storefront, Stellar Batik, on Sutton Boulevard just north of Manchester Road.
Fox-Smelser previously worked out of her Maplewood home. Corporate clients include Schlafly Bottleworks, which has bought her handmade T-shirts for eight years. She's also displayed work at St. Louis Earth Day and LouFest, and will be at the Rock and Roll Craft Show this month. You can find her work at local farmers' markets too.
Fox-Smelser moved to her new location, just south of Stone Spiral Coffee and Curios, to have a studio space outside her home, which is only a block away.
“We love the spot,” she said. “It happened to come up for rent right when we were looking, and we went on it. I like how it has a back room that I can work out of as a studio.”
She completes all of the design-work and production herself.
Now she has a place to display her work, which includes dresses, skirts and children’s clothing.
“That was the whole reason for getting the spot, was to have a studio, and then I do the boiling out and the dying at my house,” she said.
The batik process, briefly, starts with a white garment. Smelser applies beeswax and paraffin to the outline of what will remain white, then she hand paints it all with a sponge-tipped brush. When she removes the wax, it leaves a crackle-effect.
She removes the wax in a “humungous pot of water, so it’s more eco-friendly than what other batik artists are using these days. They’re using dry cleaners,” she said.
Fox-Smelser now plans on adding paint-your-own batik parties to her business mix.
“We could have baby showers or little kid birthday parties and they could make their shirts or make their own banners,” she said. “I thought that would be kind of a fun birthday idea. My daughter thought so, anyway.”
She is unconcerned about expanding her business in the current economy.
“It’s going good,” she said. “I’m getting a lot of work done. My house is a little less stressful, so it’s nice. We’ve had a few people call who wanted to make appointments. I haven’t had a lot of foot traffic, yet, which is OK.”
Stellar Batik is at 2506 Sutton Boulevard. The hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday, 1-5 p.m. on Saturday, and by appointment only on Sunday and Monday. The phone number is 314-608-9526.