WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTO | AMY ZANE
Earthly Delights at Amy Zane
After college, Amy Zane spent a few years in what she calls her seeker phase. One morning, she saw an ad for a job where she could learn to make jewelry while also learning how to manage a retail store. Shortly after being hired, she realized this was going to be her life’s work. She focused on learning this new craft and loved it. Her long-term plan was to stay in California, but she was feeling a pull to move back to her hometown of Kalamazoo.
Upon returning home, Zane continued creating jewelry, selling it wholesale. One of her first customers told her she should look at a small retail spot opening up nearby. She jumped in with both feet and began recruiting other artists to consign their work with her. Those humble beginnings started in 2003 and now, 20 years later, she has her own storefront: Earthly Delights at Amy Zane.
Zane’s store is located within the Kalamazoo Mall, a unique space recognized as the first outdoor pedestrian shopping mall in the U.S. Established in 1959, the shopping area has served as a model for others across the country.
Within the first five years, Zane’s store featured over 200 artists. Despite some lean years, Zane was able to move the business into a larger space in 2013, purchasing that building a few years later. Most recently, she purchased a local landmark store, Earthly Delights, when its owner retired. The new space allowed Zane to expand the store’s offerings to include apparel and home goods.
“Almost everything in the store is considered “small batch” and is made by someone’s hands, much of it from Michigan and the Midwest,” Zane says.
Zane’s jewelry creations stand on their own with an unmatched beauty featuring a combination of stunning color combinations. She believes that the earth does spectacular work and it is her job to showcase natural beauty. Zane searches for perfect stones and adds something small to enhance them. She loves using Swarovski crystals –– they add spark without overpowering the natural beauty of the stone or gem she’s working with.
“One of my favorite gems to work with is labradorite because it always surprises you,” she says. “I’m a sucker for ocean jasper but due to over mining, it is becoming next to impossible to find the good stuff.”
With the works of over 75 dedicated and highly skilled artists in addition to Zane’s own jewelry creations, the choices customers find at Earthly Delights make up a truly eclectic collection. Many people have expressed that shopping there feels like exploring an art fair all year long. From stunning waterscape wall art, stained glass, woolens and natural nail polish to clothing, home goods, pottery, ceramics and literature –– it is impossible to cover them all –– you just have to visit!
Zane says she is really proud when she looks back over the years and realizes how many artists the store has helped –– whether it has been an extra boost to launch their careers, an extra step in building their business or connecting them with other like-minded people.
“There is something very satisfying in assisting customers with finding that perfect item they know was not mass produced,” Zane says. “When we started this, there were not as many people realizing how important it is to keep money very local. We have built a very loyal customer base.” That loyal customer base is what has helped them stand the test of time.