Becoming... Gemini Handmade!

It's official: we're rebranding here at Parliament!

On June 9th, 2018, we will be known as Gemini Handmade!

We're really excited about this shift and all the ways we will be pushing for new growth and direction with this new name.

Why the change?

Well, that requires a little Parliament-ed History...

Originally, Parliament was launched by me, Elyse Marie Welcher, as a storefront and studio for my brand of leathergoods and accessories, Littlewings Designs. I knew I wanted to carry the work of other artists and makers, so a different name was necessary; since my logo is an owl and a flock of owls is called a "Parliament" it seemed like a fitting name for the shop.


But since launching, the scope of the shop, what we do, and why it exists have all evolved dramatically. We went through a season of collective ownership, when my husband and another partner joined the business, and have shifted out of that collective ownership recently to be owned just myself and my husband Jake. We also have shifted our literal location to a new home at 136 S Division Ave, taking up residence in the space we love in February of 2017. We have evolved in what our shop offers and produces- we started out as more of an atelier and boutique, and have evolved far more into a studio and gift shop. Finally, Jake and I are now running the shop side-by-side, with Jake having a far greater role as the production manager of all our wholesale and gift production, while I have evolved into the creative and marketing director of our three brands together. 

The original naming and all of these other shifts have led us to realize it's time for the next chapter. Jake and I have been waiting for the chance to bring the story back to center about our journey as a couple of leather-workers, and with a new name and new scope, we're thrilled to be able to do that!

Why the name Gemini Handmade?

Gemini Handmade is a play on mine and Jake's birth story. We were born 2 days apart in Grand Rapids, MI, at the same hospital, and were in the nursery at the same time. We realized this on our second or third date, and it was pretty obvious to us that we were meant for each other- the very stars had written it to be so! So, in having the chance to rename our space, we wanted to make it about the two of us, and our complimentary roles in the business to one another- and we're both Geminis, so how could we not?

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We're really excited about what all of this means, and can't wait to celebrate with you, our friends and fans of all these years!

Join us on June 9th, 2018, for the Becoming... Gemini Handmade Rebranding Party from 12-7pm at 136 S Division Ave! We will be reconnecting all the social media handles that morning, unvieling the new website, marking the celebration with cake and ice-cream, and sharing all of our new business-to-business offerings. Plus, we'll be offering a DIY Build Your Own Mug-Wrap bar, where you can pick your colors and custom monogram a mug-wrap for a mason jar! Check out the event on Facebook to RSVP- plus it's our 30th Birthdays, so what better way to celebrate and wish us
well into a new decade for the big 3-O!

Stay tuned here for our next post, where we will share more about our new offerings for wedding, event, and corporate gifts!


Seeking Summer 2017 Social Media Intern!

Have you ever wanted to learn how to run social media for a modern handcrafted business?

Have you ever wanted to get an inside look at how handcrafted shops and studios are run?

Do you have a dream of getting involved with fashion, but aren't sure how to do that here in West Michigan?

Then you might make for a great Parliament Summer Social Media Intern!!!

We're seeking a 1-2 day a week intern that is snappy with a camera, has rad style, and can bring the hype both in-type and in-real-life to assist with our social media this summer. Candidates should have a swoon-worthy IG feed, and be able to charm, sass, and word-craft with the best of digital divas. This individual will report to Elyse, the creative and marketing manager for Parliament. Interns may also need to be available for other weekend and evening hours for special events.

Think this is you? Send us an email of introduction to with the following:

  • tell us a bit about yourself and your interest in working with a handcrafted shop
  • include links to your current social media handles: IG, FB, + Twitter. Bonus if you have blogging or Pinterest experience!
  • A short writing sample- this could be a blog post, a critique you wrote, or an article. Be creative!
  • A few photos showing your Photo styling skills- Parliament is known for its distinct style and eye!
  • attach a resume or CV

Finally, stop in for a visit or during one of our events, and introduce yourself! There is nothing better than a face-to-face meeting to make a best impression.

We're seeking to fill this position within the month, so get your fingers typing and spread your wings, babes- I'll be keeping my eyes on the inbox!



The D.I.Y. Weekend

Wondering what that “D.I.Y Series” thing is that Parliament is hosting? Well, let us explain!

We have decided to add some do-it-yourself events to our schedule to allow for more community members to get involved with something creative. We understand workshops are not for everyone, and they can be slightly more pricey, and we do not want that to stop you from enjoying the process and getting creative with us.

So, for our D.I.Y. series, we are having three different projects available throughout the weekend of March 17th.

Friday will consist of dyeing your own garments in natural dyes with Megan Roach of Adventure Textiles. You can pay $5 per garment, or $10 for 3 pieces, to naturally dye them in our beautiful dye baths. Saturday will be for creating a pouch necklace with Elyse of Littlewings Designs. These little necklaces are unique and fun to make. If you are interested in jewelry or just one-of-kind items, this D.I.Y project is for you. Sunday we will be offering a D.I.Y. monogrammed key fob, which you will make with Jake of Harbinger Leather.

For more information on this series and the different projects, check out the shop tab. This is a unique event that allows you to get involved with natural dyes and interact with Team Parliament. So, stop by on one of these days during our store hours and get creative with us!

Big Thanks!

Thank you to everyone who came out to our Grand ReOpening on Friday the 3rd. It was such a wonderful turnout and we were so thrilled to have so many friends, family and community members at the event supporting us. The Grand Rapids community has been very supportive throughout this whole process, and we are so honored to be apart of such a colorful arts community. We look forward to making many more connections with our local community.

For more information on our upcoming adventures, check out our Workshops + Events page. You can also find out information on hosting a workshop or vending your goods at Parliament under the Vend + Teach page- stay tuned for info next week on how to sign up for our first workshops, coming up in March, Natural Dyeing and a terrarium building workshop!

We've Moved!-Parliament's Grand ReOpening

We’ve moved!—Parliament the Boutique has moved to a new space, and it is only a couple doors down from our original space. Over the past couple of years Parliament has been growing continuously, starting as a small studio + shop, growing into two spaces, and now coming back together again under one roof.  We entered 2016 abrim with the possibilities, but not sure of what was next. A new store? A different studio? We greatly felt the need to streamline and simplify, but were uncertain to do so.  When a space we only dreamed of having opened up, on the Avenue for the Arts and within our community, we knew we had found the opportunity. In August, we made the choice to move both store and studio back under one roof, like the original Parliament, but way bigger and better than ever before! We knew it would be a long road and transition over the next 6 months and into the New Year, but we also knew it would be oh-so worth it.

We want the new Parliament to mean something more, going beyond the products sold, we want to connect with the community of Division Street and the greater Grand Rapids area. We want to bring the craft and artistic aspects of our goods to life; every customer will now be able to understand how the finished products they purchase go from raw materials to works of art. Our old space was challenging in this regard; our audience could only shop the product, and everything was made off-site in a different space. Our bright new space will offer a comfortable environment for our visitors to both shop and learn, all under one cozy roof.

If seeing is not believing for you, why not take a step closer? We will be introducing community workshops starting in March; workshops will be taught by Parliament founders and other community makers + artisans, and you will have the chance to create under a teacher’s instruction, within our space. We are so thrilled to add this aspect to our business, and are excited to bring the participatory experience of creating an object full circle, for our audience. Throughout the year there will be a number of different workshops for the community to participate in, including basic leathercraft, natural dyeing, and a DIY clothing series in May- we are so excited!

Our goal for the new year, and new space, is to make Parliament a cultural destination. We want people from near and far to be curious as to what we are, not just what we can sell. We want them to experience the magic that goes into our craft. We are no longer just a place to buy hand-crafted and unique products, but a place that the community can come together and explore the process of crafting the beautiful objects that fill our daily lives.

We are looking forward to what 2017 has in store for Parliament, and are excited to welcome you to join us in this journey. Parliament has always been a crossroads for makers and their community; we are blessed to continue being that place, and look forward to all the new ways to deepen this space for everyone’s enjoyment. We want to thank the community for the endless support and we are excited to share our new home with you!

We hope to see you are our Grand Reopening on February 3rd, 2017 at 5pm. You can find more information on this event on our Facebook page.