By Barbara Van Reed
“A great community is one in which its members work together,” says Christine Guanipa, owner of Little Man Handbags in Whitinsville. Christine’s line of textile handbags has become very popular, enough to be sold in the White House gift shop.
Foppema’s Farm on Hill Street in Northbridge, long a provider of home-grown fruits and vegetables, has become the area’s busiest seasonal farm stand.
Now the two businesses have formed a collaboration that “came through a serendipitous meeting” between Christine Guanipa and Lisa Foppema.
During the quieter months of winter, they joined their talents and efforts to create a new line of products. “We wanted to design something that would be unique to the community, functional, and fun,” said Christine. Their ideas included a reusable canvas tote bag that Foppema Farm’s customers could use to carry home their fruits and vegetables.
Christine’s daughter, Faye Hurley, also became part of the design team. Faye is a freelance textile artist and illustrator and owner of Olive & Company in Worcester. She created an elaborate black and white etching of a panoply of farm vegetables, which would be printed on the canvas bags.
“We wanted Foppema’s customers to both enjoy the beautiful design and the functionality of a reusable tote,” said Christine. The totes will be available at Foppema’s Farm on June 1, when the farm stand opens again for the season. They will be priced at $14.95, said Lisa. The tote bags will be manufactured in Little Man’s Whitinsville studio.
In addition to the totes, Christine and Lisa worked with Lisa on a separate line of products: an exclusive line of Little Man products with carefully selected print designs like fresh apples, tomatoes, and vegetables that reflect the spirit of Foppema’s Farm. These prints were made available on Little Man items that include wristlets, key fobs, card wallets and change purses.
For the little farmer, Christine and Lisa selected prints with tractors and farm animals that Little Man made into adorable bib sets and bib-danas. All these products will be available exclusively at Foppema’s Farm.
“This was our first project joining forces with another local small business to make a custom, branded product. It was a lot of fun and I look forward to a continued collaboration,” said Christine.
Foppema’s 75-acre fruit and vegetable farm is located at 1605 Hill Street in Northbridge. Opening day is June 1. The farm also participates in major farmers’ markets from here to Boston. The web address is www.foppemasfarm.com and on Facebook: Foppemasfarm.
The Little Man Handbags studio is at 110 Church Street in Whitinsville. Customers are invited to stop by to shop for a wide array of handmade gifts and accessories. The website is www.littlemanoriginals.com, and on Facebook: LittleManHandbags.
Faye Hurley’s design business Olive & Company is at www.localporch.com/oliveandcopaper.