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Southern Highland Craft Guild Rebranding After 86 Years

After undergoing an extensive eight-month rebranding process, Southern Highland Craft Guild has released a new logo and supporting messaging. The 86-year-old nonprofit organization boasts over 850 members from 293 counties that span the mountains from Maryland to Alabama. In April 2016, the organization employed consultants Lisa and Dean Peteet of local firm Atlas Branding as co-collaborators in a much desired evolution.

The main focus of this initiative was to re-align the organization with its values by putting infrastructures in place to continue its sustainability in the marketplace, growing membership and attracting new members of all generations.

“We wanted to make sure we’re here for another eight decades and we’re putting policies in place to do so,” says Hannah Barry, Director of Public Relations and Technology.

The Guild’s new look will roll out over several months through the organization’s website, signage, advertising, and brochures. Starting in 2017, there will be a push towards membership recruitment to invite makers and educational centers to utilize the creative benefits and opportunities of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.

Membership in the Guild is open to makers in eleven different craft media; clay, glass, wood, fiber, metal, leather, natural materials, paper, jewelry, manmade materials, and mixed media. An updated mission statement clearly defines the Guild’s relevance to the creative community today: Cultivating the crafts and makers of the Southern Highlands for the purpose of shared resources, education, marketing, and conservation.

“This process has been very constructive for the Guild as we continue to seek growth and success for our members and organization,” says Executive Director Tom Bailey. Being an Asheville native, Bailey has seen first-hand the impact of craft and art on the community and its rise within Appalachia. “We certainly have enjoyed the arrival of new artists and businesses here, and it’s pushed us to have integral conversations for building our future.”

Though the organization will keep its name, the four retail shops will change their names to align with the Guild brand; Southern Highland Craft Guild in Biltmore Village, Southern Highland Craft Guild at the Folk Art Center, Southern Highland Craft Guild on Tunnel Road, and Southern Highland Craft Guild at Moses Cone Manor.

“One of the essential goals from this initiative is to build a unified and clear identity for all locations and activities of Southern Highland Craft Guild,” says Barry. “With such a mature organization, it’s not surprising that time has produced brand creep.”

The key feature of the rebranding is a new logo, which incorporates historical imagery to highlight the unique story of the Guild’s inception. A cabin among the pines in is where founder Frances Goodrich established Allanstand Cottage Industries in 1899. A Presbyterian missionary, Goodrich had come south to work with mountain folk and discovered women weaving coverlets. Inspired by their skill, she encouraged crafts production as an economic opportunity for the women. Prior to its official formation, Southern Highland Craft Guild opened its first shop in 1902 in Madison County. As tourism increased, Goodrich relocated the retail space to downtown Asheville on Haywood Road in 1908. It remained the main presence of craft retail in Asheville for nearly seven decades. In 1980, the Southern Highland Craft Guild moved the store and its headquarters to the newly built Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

During its history, the organization has operated a total of sixteen retail spaces throughout the Southern Highlands. Today, it has three shops in Asheville, as well as another in Blowing Rock at the Moses Cone Manor. The Guild also hosts two Craft Fairs of the Southern Highlands at the U.S. Cellular Center in July and October.

Southern Highland Craft Guild has always operated as a support network for makers to utilize in furthering their businesses, while also promoting their work and creativity to buyers throughout the region.

There have been seven iterations of a logo since the Guild’s formation in the early 1900s. All but one incorporated a cabin structure, symbolizing the original Allanstand Cottage Industries in the mountains of Madison County. The last time the Southern Highland Craft Guild updated a logo was in 1997.

“As Asheville’s craft industry has exploded in the past decade, we at the Guild found ourselves having conversations about the shifting landscape for our business,” says current Southern Highland Craft Guild Board President Lynn Jenkins. “We felt that it was time for a deeper look into the community. Our operations have been Asheville-centric for many years, and we have felt the pressures of market saturation.”

With its large territory and lengthy operation, the Guild has embraced many challenges and changes. From the impact of technology to the economic crises, the Southern Highland Craft Guild has survived and thrived at the helm of the fine craft scene in the United States.