Destination: Union Studio
On a street that houses an impressive collection of destinations that appeal mainly to our taste buds sits Union Studio: a hidden gem for one-of-a-kind gifts and handmade goods that caters to a different set of senses.
A must-visit for anyone on the hunt for well-crafted, quality goods produced by local artisans, it’s our ideal spot to pick up almost anything—from beautiful ceramics by Kung Fu Chicken for your desk to handmade bowties by owner/artist Mary Beth Bussen to a gift your favorite dapper friend.
Before we dove headfirst into unearthing the shop’s coveted treasures, we took a minute to catch up with Bussen to get the scoop on how this charming artisanal haven came to be.
The creative workshop and retail space has called the Botanical Heights neighborhood home for a little over a year, evolving from Bussen’s idea of a workshop space into the now studio/shop combination made possible by the storefront on Tower Grove Avenue. Bussen was in search of a place to sew the clothes she was selling at farmers markets, and with a little bit of good fortune, found the space in Botanical Heights. “By the time I had this big of a space, I realized it was crazy for it to be just me,” she says. “I knew a lot of other people who were doing really incredible work and I wanted a way to be able to share my good luck and showcase people’s work. So I opened Union Studio.”
Tables topped with sewing machines and art supplies tucked neatly in the back half of the shop offer spaces for artists like Leah Southerland and Bussen herself to create. While using Union Studio as her sewing workshop, Bussen has also curated a shop filled with handmade goods from local artists like Dick Albrecht of Hardwood Heirlooms, Katherine Ladendorf of Metro Weaving and Megan Rohall of Red Calligraphy. “The shop has its own life. It’s supported by the artists whose work we carry but also the community that is supporting it,” she explains.
Offering classes for both kids and adults, Bussen employs local artists (oftentimes the same creatives whose work is featured in the shop) to teach a variety of classes ranging from watercolor to papermaking that let you experiment with art in a way that removes intimidation and opens up exploration into your own creativity. “I like that it lets people get to know a part of themselves, but it also lets them get to know the artists whose work they love and admire in the shop,” Bussen says. “They get a really intimate experience with that artist.”
Union Studio is open Wednesday and Friday 10am-5pm, Thursday 10am-6pm and Saturday 10am-3pm. 1605 Tower Grove Ave., Botanical Heights, 314.771.5398
All photos by Hannah Foldy.