How far does one need to travel to find unique clothing and accessories handcrafted by artisans from around the world? If you live in Rockwall, these international treasures can be found on the square in our historic downtown.
Imagine a funky corner shop filled with boots from the Netherlands, clothing, jewelry and sunglasses from Australia, handbags from Morocco, all hand-picked by the shop owner and purchased directly from the producers themselves. Youd have to travel to New Yorks Soho district, Colognes Belgian Quarter or the narrow avenues of Paris Left Bank to find a shop like this. But in downtown Rockwall, Texas? Yep, it’s here!
On the corner of Rusk and San Jacinto sits just such a place, chock full of hard to find items from around the globe. Poe and Arrows is the place, and owner Shonda Wisenhunt has made it her mission to travel the world looking to bring to Rockwall the kind of fashions you cant find anywhere else in the area. She makes it a point to travel to exotic locales to personally shop face to face with business owners, in most cases with the crafts persons themselves.
After 15 years as a director at Remington College in Dallas, Shonda was ready for a change. “I felt tied down, working year-round doing the same thing every day. It was time to do something different with my life.” So, after giving her notice she decided to travel for about 6 months. “I found so much cool stuff, I got the idea to bring some of it back, open a shop and give people an opportunity to own beautiful things you just cant find at home.” Thus was born Poe and Arrows.
We asked Shonda where the name “Poe and Arrows” came from. It turns out she and her daughter Taylor are active in local animal rescue groups. “We are especially fond of pit bulls, because they are such a misunderstood breed and so many of them end up in shelters, unwanted.” One of their rescues, a boxer/pit bull mix named Poe was a favorite and lived with them for nearly 14 years before he passed away. “It was our way of honoring the memory of the happiness he brought our family.”
On her trips to Morocco, Shonda has returned home with kilim (a type of carpet woven by middle eastern craftspeople) handbags and turquoise jewelry. In Peru, she found handmade shoes under the brand name Fortress of Inca, a company dedicated to making sure the artisans receive fair prices and make a fair wage for their work. Shonda prefers to do business with companies that practice these “fair trade” policies because it brings her closer to the people who actually make the products and promotes a healthy economy for them and their families.
In her travels to Switzerland and Germany, Shonda finds “really cool stuff that you just cant find in the states. Boots, dresses and accessories that are just different. Our customers love that.”
“We also find great stuff right here in our own area. Kali Harris in Greenville makes awesome suede handbags and jewelry that does very well in our store. We have a UNT grad from India who sends us jewelry and handbags that she crafts in her studios in Denton and India.”
Shondas policy of “just selling what we like” works well on two levels. Getting to satisfy her love of travel is one. The fact that people right here in our community like and appreciate what she brings back is another.
If you cant find the time or resources to get to the far corners of the earth, Poe and Arrows has brought some of that experience back for us locals to enjoy.
And in a recent Facebook posting: “Wanderlust is calling my name. Morocco again very soon I believe.”
Article by Sharon Lewis – photos by Planet Rockwall