Farnaz at her booth. (Photo courtesy of Farnaz Menhaji)

Craft Store Celebrates Local Creative

Farnaz Menhaji first walked into a Michaels store while shopping for her son’s birthday. She felt like a kid in a candy store, admiring all of the crafting supplies. Now, over 20 years later, Farnaz is selling her own creative goods with the same shop that inspired her decades ago.

Farnaz is a lifelong creative, a passion that transitioned from painting and sculpting with play dough to baking. “After my kids were born, I started making cakes for their birthdays and taught myself a lot about cake decorating from YouTube and books, and I fell in love with the art of cake decorating,” she explained.

Farnaz worked as a baker for many years, but when the pandemic hit, she had to stop selling her desserts. “I was devastated when I lost a job I truly loved. Every morning, I woke up with joy, thinking about the cakes I would create that day.” In addition to her day-to-day work at the bakery, Farnaz participated in nationwide cake competitions, winning numerous gold medals and being published in magazines and books. “That is the part I miss the most,” she said.

“However, sometimes things happen for a reason,” Farnaz went on, “At that time, my daughter’s high school graduation was canceled, and I wanted to help her decorate her cap. I bought a Cricut machine and started learning how to use it. That opened the door for me to enter the world of crafts. Every day, I learned something new and discovered how many beautiful things I could make. This led to the start of my online shop where I began selling my creations.”

Her online shop, Elegant Art by Farnaz, sells t-shirts, candles, wax melts, and other home décor. When she received an email from Michaels about its new MakerPlace platform, she was so excited. “I am a big fan of Michaels and shop there almost every week. I know the platform is still new but I believe it will become the best platform for us makers to sell our art,” she said. “The process of selling my items has gone very smoothly without any problems.”

As the leading creative destination in North America, Michaels Companies Inc. operates over 1,290 stores in 49 states and Canada and online at and The Michaels Companies, Inc. also owns Artistree, a manufacturer of custom and specialty framing merchandise, and MakerPlace by Michaels, a dedicated handmade goods marketplace.
Recently, as part of a Michaels’ MakerPlace pilot promotion, creators were invited to brick-and-mortar locations to set up booths, facilitating shopper engagement with local handmade artists and shop their items in person. Farnaz took part as a vendor at Levittown’s Michaels location.

The experience was a very positive step forward for Farnaz and her creative spirit. “I was a vendor at my local mall during Christmas and sold items for a couple of days, but my experience selling at Michaels was different,” she explained. “People who come to craft stores are mostly artists and makers, and they appreciate art much more.”

She loved connecting with fellow creatives, and having the opportunity to do so in person after quite a few years of isolated crafting. “The reactions were great. Most of the visitors understand how many hours and how much hard work it takes to craft, and they really appreciate it.”

Farnaz said she’s always amazed by how many arts and crafts items are available and the quanity of creative goods available at Michaels. “They truly have everything you would need to create anything from cakes to paintings. I’m so happy and proud that I can sell my stuff at my favorite store!”

Farnaz has loved her life pivot to an online business, and cannot wait to see what more is in store for her. “It’s just the beginning of a great journey and opportunity… When I have an idea and start creating, I get so excited to see the end result. Sometimes it goes very smoothly and everything goes as planned, but other times I have to recreate it a couple of times. Regardless, I enjoy every second of the process. When it’s done, thinking about someone else using and enjoying it makes all the tiredness disappear, and I feel so happy.”

The artist has enjoyed learning about lots of different types of crafts and plans to continue creating personalized gifts, paper flower shadow boxes, candles, wax melts, soaps, and concrete home accessories. She has also begun working on a brand-new line of concrete jewelry. “Making things for others makes me happy, especially when I see that they like and use my creations,” she said. “When people from different states or even other countries buy my crafts, it makes me incredibly proud and happy.

Making cakes was a bit different because people use them to celebrate their happiness, and being a part of that is an amazing feeling too. I still miss making cakes, but I love my job now. I’m my own boss, and everything is great.”

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