It finally became too much for Nancy Kantarian -- staring across the desk at all those happy people. After three years of working at Maryland National Bank in the department that handles loans to small businesses, she'd talked to dozens, maybe hundreds of entrepreneurs who were going off to follow their own dreams.
"Just in dealing with them and talking with them," she says, "their excitement was sort of inspirational, I guess."
She had gotten a taste of working with handcrafted things when she worked at Femme, a clothing store downtown. She would go along on buying trips to craft shows looking for handmade clothing. "I remembered how much I liked the shows, but I was more interested in the objects than I was the clothing. So that kind of stuck in my mind."
Then when she was decorating her house and couldn't find the sort of handcrafted accessories that she wanted, everything clicked. She knew there was a niche for her.
So last summer she opened N & B Gallery in the Festival at Woodholme Center. It's a craft gallery that emphasizes both the functional and the decorative with everything from an under-$10 coffee cup to a $900 glass sculpture. "I've really tried to have a variety not only of things we carry in the store but a variety of prices," Ms. Kantarian says.
Offerings at the gallery include handmade dinnerware and serving pieces including baby dishes, raku pottery, art jewelry, clocks, desk accessories, quilted wall hangings and throws, wooden boxes, metal fireplace tools and decorative accessories made in all media. Ms. Kantarian also sells custom-made hand-painted canvas floor cloths.
"One of the things we do best with are our perfume bottles. We really have a wide selection, and there are a lot of people who collect them," Ms. Kantarian says.
Her shop is popular with interior decorators who are looking for decorative accessories. But for those who can't afford to hire a decorator to pick out things, Ms. Kantarian offers in-home consulting with no fee or obligation to buy. "If there's a spot they want to accessorize or if it's a whole room, I'll go out and look at the colors and sometimes actually take things out to their house for approval."
Because the coming ACC Craft Fair and other shows at this time of year, Ms. Kantarian is holding a sale to make room for all the new crafts. Prices on selected items are 30 percent to 70 percent off from now through the middle of March.
The gallery offers bridal registry and free gift wrapping.
N & B Gallery is located at 1809 Reisterstown Road in the Festival at Woodholme Center in Pikesville. The hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. The telephone number is 653-6096.