As a volunteer tourist advisor at the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce, I’m often asked where visitors can purchase Bainbridge Island specific memorabilia, and of course, I send them down Winslow Way encouraging them to stop at all our shops. However, we really haven’t had a shop that (almost) exclusively sold original Bainbridge Island themed art and memorabilia until now.
Introducing Island Life Artisan Gifts, an airy, inviting space where visitors can browse an eclectic assortment of goods and gifts created almost exclusively by local artists.
Shop owner and artist, Alex Sanso’s design career has taken her from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Walt Disney World in Florida and Tokyo and back to the US, where she spent some time working for Hallmark Cards in Kansas City. Wanting to settle down permanently, and be closer to family, she and her partner and their young son made Bainbridge Island their home in 2007. In 2020 they relocated to Suquamish, yet still maintain the close ties to the Bainbridge community they’ve come to love.
Having spent almost a decade creating beautiful high-quality collectables and memorabilia for Walt Disney World, Alex was well versed in the joy those artistically designed souvenirs brought the visitors of the parks and wanted to do something similar here on Bainbridge Island.
Noticing a lack of Bainbridge Island themed memorabilia on the island, Alex began creating unique collectibles in 2013. Her original designs are available in prints (matted, framed and via cards and postcards), mugs, magnets, t-shirts and much more. Almost all of her artfully designed creations are produced locally by Sound Reprographics here on Bainbridge.
She sold her pieces at various shops throughout the island, as well as street-fairs (such as the Grand Old 4th event), and the Farmer’s Market. From 2018-2021, her collections were sold exclusively at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA) Store.
Alex has enjoyed having her work in local shops and was especially honored to have them at BIMA, however the dream of running her own shop wasn’t far from her mind. When the lease became available for the space on Winslow Way that had previously housed the Shirvan Rug Gallery, she decided to investigate the possibilities.
In July 2021, Alex took the plunge and rented the space with the intention of opening for the First Friday Art Walk in August, a monumental task at best, and she was up for it. With the help of friends and business associates, she was able to furnish the shop displays and get her inventory ready for the August opening, which brought in many visitors from the local community curious to see what this shop was all about. It was a good opportunity for them to see that her shop offers something for them, too, not just visitors passing through. “When you’re looking for unique holiday gifts, or care packages for your college kids, or art and décor for your guest room, stop by and I’ll bet you’ll find something you love,” says Alex.
“At Island Life Artisan Gifts, anyone looking for art, gifts, and high-quality souvenirs and mementos of Bainbridge Island can find a wide variety of options to choose from. Stop in often to see what—and who—is new to discover in Island Life!”
In addition to showcasing all of Alex’s unique designs, the shop includes the works of other local artists, providing a diverse offering of products such as original art and jewelry, one-of-a-kind collectables and décor, apparel, ceramics, and more. New artists and goods come into the shop often, making it worthwhile to stop in frequently to see what’s on offer.
The shop is located at 424 Winslow Way East, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 – (206) 819-0762, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
CLOSED Monday, Tuesday
Wednesday through Sunday 11am-5pm
Virtual or in-person private shopping by appointment: text 206.819.0762
First Fridays of the month
Open late, from 6pm – 8pm for First Friday Art Walk
If you’d like to learn more about Alex, click here to read about her at Currents Online.