Polymer clay earrings created by Sigfús Designs’ Lauren Valenzuela. Sigfús Designs’ shop opens in Tucson on Feb. 18.

A new lil curated gift shop — featuring handmade polymer clay earrings, housewares and vintage clothing — is opening in Tucson this month.

Sigfús Designs will celebrate its grand opening from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18. After its grand opening, the shop will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. The shop is located in Bushido Studio at 3264 N. Country Club Road.

While the shop will highlight Sigfús Designs’ signature polymer clay earrings and houseware items created by founder Lauren Valenzuela, it will also carry items like candles, perfumes and even hair accessories and grooming products — many of which are locally made. There will also be a selection of vintage clothing and bar glassware.

All items in the shop will be curated by Valenzuela.

“It's really, really hard for me to not be authentic. And I have to have stuff I like, I can't just be like, ‘Oh, let's bring in all these stickers and things’ that I wouldn't personally want just because they're trendy or because they'll sell,” she said. “That's a challenge because I know to be a good business owner, you do have to think about those things — things that are trending and important and that people like. But I also want it to feel like my stamp is on it.”

The inside of Bushido Studio near Fort Lowell and Country Club roads. The studio space is also home of Sigfús Designs' new shop.

Currently, Valenzuela is decorating the shop with a papier-mâché floral installation and big wire flowers that peek out of the walls and roof. The space is also a tattoo studio run by her husband Hector that she describes as “comfortable and warm” because the location is a former home.

A new outdoor sign featuring Sigfús’ name is coming soon, but until then, look for an A-frame sign in front of the studio to know you’re in the right place.

“We're putting them next to each other, which is really funny because we have a lot of crossover business,” she said. “They get a tattoo and then they possibly buy jewelry, or they come to me and then they get a tattoo.”

As the opening date gets closer, Valenzuela jokes that she has about “six panic attacks a morning.”

“Now that it's two weeks out, I'm in the like, ‘Oh my gosh, what have I been doing?’ mode. So, of course, it's a little bit intense,” she said. “But now I've been doing all of the admin and behind-the-scenes stuff and painting, doing the installation and hanging everything. So, it's go time and I'm actually excited and having a really good time.”

'The community has rallied so hard and has been so supportive, but to have the support of the community, you have to also support the community back.'

For Valenzuela, who is the daughter of a professional watercolor painter and a musician, art unsurprisingly came naturally. But it wasn’t until six years ago when she founded Sigfús Designs after reconnecting with polymer clay — after watching a YouTube tutorial and creating her own designs for friends and family.

“At the time, it wasn't the big trend that it is now with a million people making polymer clay earrings. But there were only maybe a small handful of brands in the United States that were doing it. So, I got into it pretty quick and I got really addicted to it,” she said.

Realizing there was a demand for this type of art, Valenzuela decided to sell her designs. After participating in her first local market, Cultivate Tucson, and almost selling out of all the products she brought with her, she went home and created a six-page business plan.

Later that year, she quit her job in the restaurant industry and started to create jewelry and other goods full-time.

“Jewelry is a great way to have fun. It's a way to express yourself. That's kind of what the space is going to be. It's going to be an expression of just joy, abundance, struggle, all of it. Art is important. And art makes us happy. Art is just a key aspect of all of our lives, so we should celebrate it.”

Polymer clay earrings created by Sigfús Designs’ Lauren Valenzuela.

Since pursuing Sigfús Designs fully, Valenzuela has participated in numerous markets with lines that wrap around the event, launched an online store and even began accepting wholesale orders. Now her products are featured in small shops across the country and internationally.

“It was really cool to see it spreading,” Valenzuela said. “People were excited about it and it was definitely, kind of, encouragement to really dig in.”

For many, life after the COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot of changes. Valenzuela found herself asking, “What’s important? What matters?”

After what she described as a “rough couple of years,” she decided it was time for something new.

That something new was opening a brick-and-mortar.

“I've been trying to switch my focus and just try to function as a business, stay afloat, not give up, of course, but have more impactful moments within the community and get back to our core ‘why’ — it's about people. It's about connection. It's not just about burning out or running a business,” she said, adding: “I got really used to just being by myself. And I think the more you're by yourself, the more you pull away from people and you're comfortable in isolation. And that is not who I am. I believe life is to be experienced with people and it's this beautiful thing. It's not meant to be alone. We're not meant to live like that.”

Lauren Valenzuela with her husband, Hector. The couple owns Bushido Studio, which is also the new home of the Sigfús Designs shop.

Once the Sigfús shop officially opens, Valenzuela hopes to host plenty of events from gallery showings and art auctions to workshops.

“We're just a story of a Tucson couple that both went after it and went for stuff. That was our dream,” she said. “And I think that you can succeed at things that you try for. I didn’t picture myself here at this point in my life. I didn't know what I pictured. But you can go after it and go for it.

“And I think the community has rallied so hard and has been so supportive, but to have the support of the community, you have to also support the community back. So I feel like it goes both ways.”

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