The popularity of her homemade craft items led Natalie 0...

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

December 15, 1991|By Mary Corey

The popularity of her homemade craft items led Natalie 0) Silitch into international business

Natalie Silitch glanced around her Annapolis home, and what did she see?

Fabric strewn over chairs, Christmas ornaments covering tables and a floor filled with pillows shaped like cows.

"All of a sudden I didn't have a home anymore," she says.

What she had instead was a thriving business of "urban country" crafts she moved to an Annapolis office last year.

And a good thing, since her whimsical Christmas designs -- animals, mermaids and angels made from antique buttons, quilts and velvet -- are now sold in stores across the country, including I. Magnin, Conran's and Valley Framing & Fine Art in Baltimore. At noon today, she'll be the guest artist during an open house

at Antiques & Interiors in Annapolis.

"This just totally blows me away," says the former secretary, who declines to give her age.

The company came about years ago after friends clamored to own decorations she made. The mother of three now relies on a staff of 30 to help produce 15,000 ornaments each year.

She was surprised recently when a Paris shop placed an order. "I always thought Paris was too sophisticated for my things," she says. "I have a hard time picturing my fat cows there." Larry Jeter considers it a good sign that people are not only buying merchandise from his new record store, they keep trying to purchase the decor.

But the collection of vintage radios, posters and Victrolas is part of the ambience, not inventory, explains the 37-year-old owner of Dimensions in Music in downtown Baltimore.

Surveying his store -- with its 6,000 compact discs featuring an extensive collection of jazz, pop, r&b and rap -- the music lover and part-time drummer breaks out in a boyish grin.

"To me this is like having my cake and eating it too," he says. "I can't sleep at night because I want to be here."

What's helped distinguish his store from the local record-o-rama has been the listening area. Four compact disc players with earphones allow customers to sit, relax and sample tunes. And although people sometimes line up for the chance to kick back with a new song, he has no plans to limit anyone's time.

"We don't want anyone to be pressured," says Mr. Jeter, who lives in north Baltimore.

His only personal pressure these days comes from long workdays, which keep him from his wife, Donna Gaither, the executive director of the City Commission for Women.

But he figures she knew what she was in for when they married last year. After all, he says, "we met in a jazz club."

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