Orchids are so quintessentially Sarasota it’s hard to believe the magical little shop called Awesome Orchids is owned by expat Canadians. “We lived in Toronto and Calgary but didn’t become interested in orchids until we moved to Sarasota,” says Eve Howes, who owns the store with her husband, Alan, and sister, Martha Storey.
The shop entices with a roster of orchids and bromeliads. “Orchid guru Robert Palmer of Palmer Orchids in Manatee County taught me everything I know,” confides Howes, a former Sarasota real estate developer who took up orchid growing to “de-stress.”
That hobby grew into a continuing 12-year gig at the downtown Farmer’s Market and a stunning new store brimming with botanically themed accent furniture, planters, pots, garden stools, whitewashed mirrors and more. Particularly fantastic are the ancient-looking urns reproduced in resin as light as a feather. “Martha’s background is in interior design, and Alan owned a property management company, so our backgrounds play off one another,” Howes explains.
Garden of earthly delights: Look for botanically themed delights, from Moroccan garden stools ($165) to a range of Bella Cucina products including the artichoke lemon pesto that made Oprah’s O List (each $10.50 per 6 oz.)
What this town needs “One cohesive voice speaking for downtown Sarasota. There are so many groups trying to do so many things with so many agendas. It all has to come together,” says Eve.
Can’t live without “My orchids—they’re all over my house, inside and outside strapped to trees. And my family: I’m very close to my nephews. Every one of them has worked with us at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market since they were 13.” Awesome Orchids, 330 S. Pineapple Ave., (941) 365-3500
A charming gift shop dedicated to supporting artists who create their work by hand just opened in the detached original kitchen of Sarasota’s historic Bidwell house. Handmade by 32 artisans from Punta Gorda to Bradenton, gifts range from baby quilts to rag rugs, pine needle baskets and Pam Marwede’s hand painted pillows ($450). Gift Shop of the Historical Society of Sarasota, 1260 12th St., (941) 364-9076.
Marian Kaye Strickland retired from the healthcare industry last year and went back to school to become a registered gemologist, fulfilling her dream of creating unique jewelry. Now she designs custom pieces with unusual stones like this ring’s 2.65 carat zulatanite from Anatolia, Turkey, set off by diamonds ($2,800). www.mymkdesigns.com; MK Designs at Golden Image, 30 S. Palm Ave.,
(941) 364-8439; Lotus, 1451 Main St., (941) 906-7080.
Vive La Revolution
Revolution Organics is revolutionizing the cosmetics industry with its trademark certified organic ingredients (no harmful synthetics or chemicals) and products like Freedom Glow Beauty Balm ($34), an all-in-one balm that infuses lips, cheeks, eyes and décolletage with color, and Freedom Gloss ($26), a lip treatment in gorgeous shades. Exclusively at Butterfly Effect, 451 N. Orange Ave., (941) 552-6728.