Qualla Creations opens new, art-based storefront

by Jul 12, 2019A&E, COMMUNITY sgadugi

Laura Blythe, center, cuts the ribbon to officially open Qualla Creations, a Cherokee Historical Association business, on the afternoon of Friday, July 12. The business is located in downtown Cherokee. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)





Qualla Creations, a business of the Cherokee Historical Association (CHA), opened its doors officially in downtown Cherokee on Friday, July 12.  The business features a variety of products including modern Cherokee art; merchandise from Buffalotown, Fire Mountain Trails, and more; wood engraved pins and knives, and much more.  

Located in a recently renovated building that has sat vacant for several years, Qualla Creations is in the heart of downtown Cherokee.  

“Our goal is we want to bring authentic Cherokee to downtown,” said Laura Blythe, Qualla Creations manager.  “And, that’s with Cherokee-infused elements all the way around.  Everything may not be handmade and it may not be native-made, but we want to spotlight all artists in the area.” 

Blythe said the art featured in the store will be from a mixture of Cherokee residents, both enrolled and non-enrolled.  “People who have been long-standing members of the community, I think that they’ve done great things.  They do really good work, and I want them to have a place to spotlight that as well.” 

The store also is the new home for the CHA manufacturing department known as Oconaluftee Gifts.  ‘We do a lot of the hand-made, small items that kids like to buy.  We do pea shooters, sling shots, tomahawks, bows and arrows; those things similar to what The Cherokees used to do, but we’re on a much smaller scale.  And, we try to use a lot of natural products with our creations.”  

Big Cove Rep. Richard French, left, and his wife, Angela, shop in Qualla Creations on opening day.

Just opened, Blythe and staff are already looking at expansion to keep the business moving forward.  “We have an area that is just perfect for a fine arts gallery.  It will be a different element here, in the downtown area, and it’s going to be based more on modern Cherokee arts.  We have a lot of the traditional side at the Oconaluftee Indian Village, which is another CHA venue, where we sell the baskets and finger weaving in that shop.  In here, we have a little bit of that, but it’s more of a modern feel to the store for the downtown area.”  

Blythe said they’re looking to feature area artisans in a variety of disciplines including photography, painting, sculpture, wood carving, and more.  “All of those different types of mediums that artists create stuff with, that’s what we’re wanting to showcase and let them know that they do have a place here in town that is looking to spotlight that.”  

She encourages artists to come into the store to discuss their work.  “I love art.  I love what people create, and I love the way their minds work,” said Blythe.  “If you’re able to put what’s in your mind down into your work, other people need to be able to see that because I feel that’s what true, beautiful art is.”  

The outside of Qualla Creations is emblazoned with images from the “Unto These Hills” outdoor drama and the Oconaluftee Indian Village – fitting as tourists can purchase tickets to all CHA venues inside the store.  They also promote other local attractions such as the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and the Fire Mountain Trail.  

To contact Qualla Creations, call 497-2111 or to keep up with the store, like them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/QuallaCreations/.