Meet owner & artist Nansi Strickland
Nansi Strickland says that what she most enjoys about owning her own shop is the chance she gets to meet interesting people. “Everyone has a story,” says Nansi.
While that may be true, Nansi’s story is one for the books. How does one go from being a stewardess for 15 years with Braniff Airlines, serving first class passengers and flying all over the world, to living and working in New York City as a successful jewelry designer for 10 years, to owning and operating the uniquely fabulous “When Pigs Fly…Magic Happens” shop in downtown Smithfield?
Well, like all true artists Nansi always let her heart and her passion lead her, and it led her to Smithfield.
“One day I was riding the subway home to my tiny apartment in Brooklyn, after yet another 12-hour day when I opened the Cosmopolitan Magazine I was carrying to find my jewelry line featured in a two-page spread in the publication. But I realized that as proud as I was at that moment, I had no one to share my success with. I went home to my lonely apartment and called my sister who said, ‘Come to Virginia. You’ve become too spikey.’ As much as I loved New York, I left shortly after that day, toting all my belongings with me to join my sister in Virginia Beach. That many years ago and I’ve never looked back.”
Nansi has stayed very busy since then creating her line of pearl and sterling jewelry, giftware, vibrant hand-painted tiles, handmade French-milled soap and vintage treasures. She was regularly showing at about 30 art shows a year until 2013, when she walked into 315 Main Street and as she describes it, “It was love at first sight. A storefront, air-conditioning and a bathroom also made the move to a permanent storefront on Main Street a no brainer.”
As Nansi repeats several times a day to greet her customers when they come in, “Welcome to the cutest little store in the world, so rumor has it. And I should know – I started the rumor.” Nansi’s larger than life personality is on display all over the shop and is reflected in her vibrant artwork, rich hues, whimsical animals and colorful calligraphy.
This is truly a shop to experience, to make time for and to return to again and again – because the items featured are constantly changing. While she works at least five of the seven days the shop is open, when Nansi’s not at the shop, she’s home creating the artwork she sells.
“When Pigs Fly…” also features the work of a few other artists, among them New York City jewelry designer, Stephen Contreras, a favorite among customers. In fact, Nansi will host Stephen in her first “Pig After Dark” event on Thursday, June 9 from 5-7:30 p.m. at the shop. While Stephen demonstrates his craft, “The whole store will be rockin’ with specials, libations, laughs and love.”
Born in Miami, Florida, Nansi now enjoys her home on the Chuckatuck Creek with its views of the James River from her art studio. “This is my dream,” says Nansi. In fact, when asked what she would do with a week off, she says she would spend it in her studio creating art. As she explains, “You’ve got to have passion. Without it your life is dull.”
“When Pigs Fly…Magic Happens” is animated by Nansi’s passion. As she describes the shop, “When Pigs Fly is a store bursting with local talent, stuffed with great ideas, all coming together in one sensational little shop. Visit me. You’ll find whimsical housewares and beach themed giftware, art from old wood to old masters, French milled soaps and men’s cologne, fabulous jewelry from in-house designer Nansi, and accessories galore! All not be missed.”
Nansi encourages us all to “Come join the fun!” Rumor has it you’ll be glad you did!
315 Main Street in downtown Smithfield, Virginia, 757.777.5696
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