In a town as chameleonic as Key West, reinvention is both necessary and welcome. Whether it’s a new hairstyle or a wholesale uprooting, we go farther than merely embracing change — we thrive on it. This is why, after five years of brick-and-mortar bliss on Truman Avenue, Abigail Houff decided to opt for a change of scenery for her gemstone jewelry business, Gilded Peach, moving into the serene Shakti Yoga/ Mayanjali Café at 1114 White St.
“After five years on a relatively quiet retail block of Truman Avenue, it was time for change,” Houff explains. “Chalk it up to fear of stagnation, or a need for new inspiration, but when the news of an open studio space at Shakti reached me, by total happenstance, it seemed like a perfect fit and I jumped on it immediately. I had known I was done with brick-and-mortar; I have my work in several prominent shops throughout town, and people know how to find me. I wanted a location I could operate more on my own terms, where it was more about the artistry, inspiration and creativity than worrying about walk-in traffic.”
Houff and Shakti owner Sofia Artola have orbited the same social circles for quite some time. “I think I originally met Sofia at Uva Wine Shoppe, so we had an instant connection over our love of a good glass of wine,” Houff says. “And I always loved the food at Mayanjali, being right around the corner from my old Truman Avenue location. I’m not any kind of experienced yogi, so I can’t really claim that connection — I believe that both the community and I are bet ter off if I practice yoga in private. But we always just kind of connected and got on, and I sold my jewelry there on consignment for years.” The vibe that Artola has cultivated at ShaktiS was instantly attractive to Houff, both personally and professionally. “The space at Shakti/Mayanjali is an incredibly peaceful and nurturing one,” HouffinH describes. “People gather there to practice, of course, but also to nourish both their bodies and their souls, and kibbutz and generally feel good. It’s a perfect environment for creativity. I love that there are always people coming and going, popping their heads in my studio to say hello, and they are genuinely interested in the stones and my work. It is just overall so positive.”
And that creatively generous environment has enabled Houff to access a deeper level in of originality in her own work. “Key West is full of incredibly talented artists, to the point that it can be a bit intimidating,” she says. “What I believe Gilded Peach brings to the table is originality, because the materials I use are of the highest quality and are never purchased in bulk, and also a distinctiveness — people generally recognize the designs immediately, even though they are all originals.”
During the off-season, you can generally find Houff in the jewelry studio from noon to 5 p.m. during the week, and occasionally on Saturday mornings. Come November, Gilded Peach will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. And even when the jewelry boutique itself is closed, Gilded Peach’s gorgeous gemstone pieces are available for purchase through the yoga studio. Houff will also continue to hold her popular private jewelry making classes, with an expanded schedule coming soon.
To celebrate their union, Shakti, Mayanjali Café and Gilded Peach will cohost a reception on Thursday, July 25, from 5-8 p.m. Bubbles will be flowing from the Gilded Peach studio and the café will serve a colorful Indian/Latin inspired dinner to accompany Houff’s beautiful, vibrant jewelry. To reserve your meal, call 305-363-9197. ¦