New mental health-focused craft business opens in Regina

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A new craft and hobbies business that has a focus on mental health is offering Regina residents a unique experience in a safe space.

“I have ADHD and I have anxiety and I have depression. Like most people, I feel like COVID hit us very hard and I just felt very lost and lonely,” Encore, Sustainability in the Arts owner Naomi Weir said in an interview Tuesday.

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Because of her struggle with mental health Weir designed Encore to be an emotionally safe place to offer seasonal craft classes with different themes. Around Christmas she hosts gingerbread and wreath making classes.

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The business was born from an entrepreneurship class at the University of Regina where she was tasked with creating a service of some kind. Having spent time with her father creating sets for a production of Little Women she learned the value of repurposing old props for new use.

As opening night of Little Women approached, volunteers were rushing to build two-step and three-step stairs.

“I was like in why world do we not have one that we’ve created before that we can just grab and then change the railing,” she said.

“This was really bothering me, and then I decided to do that as my service for the class. I would do sets, props and costumes and rent them out and make sure that things were accessible and that we didn’t have as much waste of volunteers and supplies.”

Weir then got in contact with different schools and companies to find out their budgets and see which services they needed for their shows.

“I determined that there was in fact a need for sets, props and costumes. It kind of just grew from there.”

With her father building sets for theatre companies throughout Regina since she was a child and her brother working as an engineer, she said she’s always had access to a wood shop and a sewing room.

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“I just really want to bring that to other people because I feel like it’s so good for people to use their hands, get out of their head and create something,” she said.

“Even if it’s not perfect, it is perfect because you did it.”

Weir said flexibility is required when it comes to running a business and has demonstrated that by expanding Encore from prop creation and rentals to offering the themed project sessions and a maker space, which is a creation space that requires a membership. She also hopes to be able to offer a rentable recording studio and photography area in the future.

“I originally started with the sets, props and costumes and now that’s going to be the secondary part,” Weir said.

Two years after the first iterations of Encore, Weir got the keys to her building at 140 6th Ave east on Oct. 10 and had a grand opening on Oct. 21 starting with an art gallery featuring pieces that Weir created.

“On the weekends on I’m going to teach DIY classes and there will be a cheaper option and a more expensive option because I want to be really accessible,” she said.

“I want it to be a really nice, fun place for people to come where they feel safe and they just want to create.”

Naomi Weir
Naomi Weir, owner of Encore, an art studio and makerspace stands for a portrait at the new studio on Tuesday, November 28, 2023 in Regina. Photo by KAYLE NEIS /Regina Leader-Post

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