Fresh from a trip exploring the Oregon Coast and Portland, Shanna Pharis is still reeling from seeing Haystack Rock (made famous by The Goonies) in person. The Austin-based jewelry maker spent time visiting Manzanita and Canon Beach with Portland friends and says exploring from the perspective of a local is really the best way to see uncharted territory. In her own Austin neighborhood, Shanna takes different roads or side streets during her commute in an effort to uncover new businesses and shops. Her’s own handmade jewelry business, SoCoDivka Designs is worth discovering on Krrb.
Find out what keeps this Texas girl busy during the fall season and how she finds those hidden gems in the Lone Star State.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and where do you currently live?
Hi, my name is Shanna Pharis, and I’ve lived in Austin since the mid-‘90s. I grew up in Dallas, had a couple short stints in Prague, but Austin is home. I live in a little mid-century ranch just off South Congress/South First in south Austin with my husband and dogs, and I love that part of Austin so much.
What is the most awesome thing in or about your neighborhood?
Oh there’s so much! Amazing food—just throw a rock and you’ll hit at least a half-dozen awesome Mexican food restaurants, plus food carts, plus great shopping. Austin—despite its rapid growth, still hangs on to its indie, entrepreneurial spirit. I love the shops on South First a lot – from where I shop, sell my jewelry, and pick up clothing or record stores where I can find CDs or records.
List the top 5 places you go locally to discover hidden treasures.
I go to estate sales and thrift stores like Thrift Town and Savers. For clothing, I consign at Lovely Austin and love to find a deal at Strut on Congress. There are plenty of great stores down on South Congress. My husband has shopped for gifts for me at Parts & Labor and Maya Star, both really cool stores featuring local or independent designers. I just discovered Mockingbird Domestics and the Austin Flea.
Did you go to garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores as a kid?
My dad and I were fans of Traders Village, a huge flea market where I grew up in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Starting in high school, I really got into thrift shopping, especially vintage clothing. In the 90s, I was able to find so many great thrifted clothing. I even found my own first Super 8 camera at my favorite thrift store in high school!
How did you begin going to thrift stores, markets, etc?
Other than growing up with my dad and shopping at thrift stores with friends in high school, I started going to thrift shops and estate sales a few years ago to find components for my jewelry. Plus, I am always on the lookout for fun finds for theme and costume parties. I got hooked after an awesome find at a thrift store one Halloween: I picked up a necklace for $1.99 that really felt special. When I got home and researched it, I found out it’s worth at least 75 times that!
How often do you go to garage sales, flea markets, etc.? Any personal tips you’d like to share?
I go maybe once a month or as time allows. There are a couple sites I use to get my particular favorite estate sale preferences e-mailed to me as an alert (anything mid-century or jewelry), but sometimes the most fun is seeing a sign on the side of the road that says “Estate Sale” and venturing forth. A couple of my favorite finds have happened that way. I know a lot of people like to get there first thing on the first day to find the best stuff, but I also like a lazy Sunday of estate sales, plus oftentimes they offer 50 percent off or even crazier deals when they are ready to wind it up.
Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?
I walk a fine line! Ideally, I’d be a minimalist, but I am okay living with a certain degree of controlled chaos as long as I have spaces that are more simple.
What blogs (design and otherwise) do you read right now?
I read Oh The Lovely Things, IndieFixx, lots and lots of bridal blogs like Style Me Pretty and Offbeat Bride (despite graduating from being a newlywed soon, I am still hooked on them, especially working in the industry.) Sometimes I’ll read Oh Hello Friend, and Happiness Is, and The Maven Circle. More than anything, I am hooked on Pinterest because I’m so visually oriented.
What is your most cherished handcrafted, secondhand, vintage, upcycled object you possess? What’s the story behind it?
I found an awesome turn-of-the-century dress form that I use to display my jewelry. It’s awesome. My most favorite recent finds are a chalk drawing that someone did in the 1920s of a pretty lady holding up her engagement ring in a cool, old frame and a cartoonish map of Austin from the 1970s, which is so fun, nostalgic and a great conversation piece. Both of those were estate sale finds on the same day. I need more walls!
What are you working on these days?
I’m working a lot on the operations of our wedding film business, plus my husband’s teaching me more about video editing, so I can help lighten that load. And I am beginning to think of new jewelry ideas and designs for the holiday season.
Speaking of the season, what are your fall plans.
I am hoping to choose a show or two to do for the holidays, and I usually take part in EAST, the Eastside Studio Tour, each year at a friend’s house/studio. We’ll be shooting lots of weddings on Super 8 and video—November will be especially busy—and editing those. Summer is slow in the wedding film biz in the summer since it’s so hot in Austin, so fall really is the season!
Oh! Do you have a day job?
In June I left my day job as a webmaster for the university to pursue creative interests full-time. I make jewelry (SoCoDivka Designs) and wedding Super 8 films & video (Nostalgia Film, which I co-own with my husband). I am still freelancing in web work (Pharis Productions), too. I have so much more time to devote to my creativity now – both making films, learning more video editing, creating websites, and making jewelry, plus I have time to focus on the operations and running of my businesses that I didn’t have before—talking with brides, learning about marketing, meeting with shop owners where I sell my jewelry, etc.
The Short List
Eastside Studio Tour