Kelly Lawrence, owner of Chosen Pathways Spiritual Emporium, plans to make the store a safe haven for anyone and everyone. She wants the emporium, located at 400 E. State Street, to be a place that promotes inclusivity for all people.
“I really want it to be a community space, I want people to feel comfortable here, of all faith,” Lawrence said. “Hopefully I won't be leaving anybody out as far as whatever spiritual path a person is on. I want to have something for them.”
Having opened on May 1, Chosen Pathways has tarot and oracle decks, books, candles, incense, all sorts of small gifts, spiritual items and more. But most importantly for Lawrence, Chosen Pathways is a space to feature many talented artists and the work they poured their efforts into during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as promote connectivity in Athens.
Luke Boyd, an artist, painter and cake decorator, is excited to see how opening up the shop will create new opportunities for local artists and art organizations that were hit hard by COVID-19.
“It's like really important and it's very validating when somebody else sees your work,” Boyd said. “It almost is the last component of making a painting for me. Sometimes I don't really feel like I have to show other people, but I do think that part of my growth as an artist is having my work out there for people to see, for people to comment on and give me feedback.”
Boyd is looking forward to meeting more artists and excited for Lawrence to have a hand in growing Athens closer together.
“I'm so excited that she has this because it's almost like the ultimate way for her to keep supporting artists,” Boyd said. “It's really bringing everybody together, which is awesome.”
Tina Kelsey, an artist, said Lawrence really understands artists and the store will create a setting that has never been seen in Athens before – specifically through its emphasis on individuality.
“I think that it's going to have things that you just don't find everywhere else,” Kelsey said. “I think it's gonna have a really good energy, and I think it'll be a perfect place to find things that you just can't get everywhere else. And the fact that she's opened it up to many different local artists is just very encouraging, especially now.”
Kelsey talked about how she’s happy to live in Athens where people understand that there are a lot of artists in town. The store provides a chance for the art to not only be seen, but also appreciated.
With the variety of things Lawrence will have, there will be multiple opportunities to find something new and exciting for everyone.
Nancy Baur, an activist through crafts, or “craftivist,” and owner of Re“ewes”able Fiber Arts, spoke about how the store will be a place to bring life to Athens with the help of the artwork.
“I think there's going to be something for everyone to come and look at,” Baur said. “There's going to be beautiful art, there's going to be books, there's going to be just a little bit of amazing in every corner of the store. I think that's one of the things that she (Lawrence) really shows a great title by saying ‘Emporium,’ because it has a little bit of everything for everyone.”
The store opening is a chance for the people of Athens to meet new people and add to the togetherness of the ever-changing, ever-growing area.
“I think with the students here, there's an opportunity for them to get to know some of these wonderful people,” Lawrence said. “And to see that there are other ways of looking at the world and being accepting of everybody's beliefs. That's one of the most important things, I feel, is for people to get to know different pathways that people have and understand one another.”