By YVETTE C. HAMMETT
Once Robin Grogan got her hands on a fancy laser that she could use to cut letters and designs into glass and wood, her imagination took off.
She started out with the idea of personalizing wedding photos with special frames featuring custom dates and addresses.
“As we started doing that, we started learning all the different things we could do with a laser cut — custom glasseware and jewelry with GPS coordinates to help people capture those special times and moments in their lives,” Grogan recalled.
“We were printing photographs and building the frames and doing something custom on there, address or date, GPS coordinates. That is kind of where we started.”
Then she and her husband Roy Castell learned about the Airstream camper at Winthrop Town Center.
“The Airstream gave it all a more fun artsy feel,” she said.
Today, the first of an expected four or five Airstream campers coming to Winthrop is open as Robin Nest, a gift shop featuring a multitude of custom handbags, jewelry, glassware and more.
“We rent the Airstream from Winthrop. They were trying to build this Airstream market,” Grogan said. “We thought what better way to display the work. The Airstreams are becoming so trendy, and there are so many things you can do that are so cool.”
“We call it an Airstream boutique,” said Castell, who noted that both he and Grogan have fulltime jobs, so the Airstream is open evenings and Saturdays.
“Right now, we have 40 different items,” he said, ranging from engraved wedding vows on a plate, names and dates and cutting boards and serving boards. One of the areas I’ve always been the most excited about is the handbag line that Robin has been working on.”
She’ll cut a design in leather using the laser and use the leather as the bag’s frame, lining it with any color interior. They run in all sizes from clutches to large purses.
“We customize the color of the interior, and we can change out the color. That allows someone to come in and really customize it to be what they want it to be.”
She said she is working to take that laser to a level most people never go.
“We sell glasses and such, but with the handbags, it is something you don’t see anywhere else.
“It’s only limited to Robin’s creativity,” Castell said.
The Airstream boutique opened Aug. 4 and had its official ribbon-cutting with the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce in early October.
Business has started off with numerous corporate clients ordering custom leather coasters for their customers, along with glassware they can use as promotional gifts. And Robin Nest has gotten orders for laser-cut wooden coasters for some local restaurants.
They are also selling the plates with wedding vows etched into them and other items. Castell said they are working to build up the retail side of the business.
“The other project we did, which was our largest so far, is we created boxes that are 4 inches by 4 inches with a USB stick for a sewing machine company inside. They take digital files for embroidery and put them on the USB stick. They used them as giveaways for people who purchased the machines.”
Castell said they welcome the Riverview community to visit Robin Nest and have a look at the custom giftware it offers. Their merchandise is also available online.
The Airstream is located near the arts center at Winthrop, at the southeast corner of Bloomingdale Avenue and Providence Road.
“The community here has been absolutely incredible, anything from neighbors calling us on the Nextdoor app and promoting our shop to offering gifts for our ribbon-cutting,” Grogan said.
Mostly, Castell said, Robin Nest is a great creative outlet for Grogan, who has always been into art.
The shop is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Other times are available by appointment.