• 50°

Busy Bee Crafts & Gifts takes business to the next level

Vee Norfleet has always had a knack for making crafts. Today, after many years of selling wreaths online to family and friends, she is taking her business to the next level; one of the newest business owners in Washington, Norfleet opened Busy Bee Crafts & Gifts earlier this month, and will hold a grand opening this weekend.

“I’ve always enjoyed crafting, or fixing things up as we used to call it,” Norfleet said. “I like to repurpose things and I love to paint.”

When medical issues prevented Norfleet from continuing her work as a school bus driver, she began making crafts with the goal of selling them. While her professional crafting journey began with selling wreaths nearly eight years ago, the business has since expanded into other artistic projects.

“I came up with Busy Bee because everybody would always say ‘you’re busy as a bee’ because I was always flitting from one project to the next,” Norfleet said. “Last year I decided that I wanted to get back to my crafting.”

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN: One of the shop’s specialties are Norfleet’s wreaths, which can be customized for a variety of occasions. Here, she works on a piece for Memorial Day. (Matt Debnam/ Daily News)

Today, Norfleet has expanded her offerings substantially beyond the wreaths that were her beginning. Thanks to investments from friends and relatives, she was able to secure space in Washington Plaza, realizing her dream of establishing the brick-and-mortar store where she now sells her crafts and gifts.

“As far as the wreaths, they’re still my first love and I love making them,” Norfleet said. “But I’m partial to deco mesh. I feel like with glitter and deco mesh, the world would just be a better place.”

In terms of glitter, Norfleet puts it to good use, bedazzling wine glasses and tee shirts with splashes of shimmering color. From gifts for all occasion to custom decorations and shirts for parties, holidays and weddings, Norfleet tries to cover all the bases in her store.

“Here in our little town, there are a lot of gift shops and places you can shop for unique items,” Norfleet said. “What I think makes my shop unique is that I make a lot of things that represent my culture and who I am.”

Examples of such items that speak to African-American culture include what Norfleet calls her ‘queens,’ images of strong black women printed on accessories and apparel.

“I kind of envision this as being an oasis,” Norfleet said. “Whenever I’ve shopped for baby showers, I’ve felt like I couldn’t find things with black babies or Hispanic babies, things that other people may take for granted. I thought this will be a place for minority women to come and get things that represent them.”

While Norfleet strives to offer merchandise that serves the needs of the African-American and Hispanic communities, she also wants to make clear that there is something in her shop for everyone.

“When I was taking my business class, the instructor said that successful businesses solve problems,” Norfleet said. “This, for me, was a problem that I thought I could help with.”

Busy Bee Crafts & Gifts is located in Washington Plaza, off of Minuteman Lane, and is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, check out the Busy Bee Facebook Page @BusyBeeCraftsNGifts. The store will hold a grand opening celebration beginning at 11 a.m. on May 26.