By Mary Mone
Online Editor and Copy Editor
Photos by Chris Swann
Taking a bite of freshly made pizza, listening to fresh tunes, learning a new skill, shopping for that vintage item you’ve been looking for, and learning how to balance your skincare routine are all things Tyler’s small businesses are offering this summer. The summer is traditionally a time for college students to either learn new skills, relax or spend the majority of their time working. Nevertheless, these local businesses are welcoming college students to kick back and stop by to experience what they bring to the Tyler community.
#1 – Sola Bread Company
Sola Bread Co. specializes in artisan bread, pastries and pizza. Karin Davis, one of the six owners of the family business, expressed how they wish for Sola to be a place where everyone feels welcome to come to the table. They wanted it to be a welcoming place because many mentioned to them that, “Tyler’s friendly, but it’s really hard to make friends,” Davis said.
Originally beginning by being a project at home, Karin’s husband, who is from Brazil, “missed the kind of bread that he could get there,” Davis said. Baking one loaf at a time, the family began telling Karin and her husband they should start a business.
“Then one day we kind of looked at each other and we were like, “What if we sold this?,” Davis said.
After building a wood fired brick oven, they began going to the Rose City Farmers Market. The first market they participated in they baked the whole night before and brought 35 loaves of bread. They sold out in 10 minutes. The next week they doubled the amount and sold out in 30 minutes.
Not only is Sola Bread Co. an established small business in Tyler, but they support other local businesses and now reside in the same building of True Vine Brewing Company. They outsource to Porch Culture Coffee Roasters, a whole wheat berry farm near Austin, Red Moon Farm for vegetables, Cut Beef, Hot Goat for their goat cheese. Creating a space for everyone at the table has been at the front of who they are in the community, and they credit their success to God. “God has been with us the entire time,” Davis said.
#2 – El Guapo Records
El Guapo Records recently moved to the same courtyard as Sola Bread Co. Ian Power, the owner of the store, grew up listening to vinyls and keeps the family tradition by having his own store.
“My dad had a huge collection (of records) when I was a kid, and my grandfather owned a record store in South Texas,” Power said.
While Power’s friend started the business, Power became the owner in 2018.
Mostly carrying music during the time frame of 1969-1985, Power takes pride in caring for the records properly. He said storing the records vertically in a temperature controlled place is ideal because it can prevent warping caused by weight and heat.
The business has a buy, sell, trade model, so when receiving new vinyls, Power cleans them and grades them anywhere in between fair, which is when it is scratched or beat up, to mint, which is a sealed new record.
Enjoying being part of the small business community in Tyler, Power admires local businesses’ support for each other.
#3 – Adjusting Sails Dirtworks
New to town as of this past summer, owner Jeff Clement, offers pottery classes at Adjusting Sails Dirtworks. These classes are at 6 to 9 p.m. on Monday through Thursday at the pottery studio on Earl Campbell Parkway. Students are free to make whatever they wish, and the package comes with “a bag of clay, glazing, fires included, and open studio time to come in and practice,” Clement said. With four three-hour classes, it costs $165 a month. All glazes over the pottery are food safe, microwave safe and dishwasher safe.
#4 – Moon Rivers Naturals
Moon Rivers Naturals produces all natural skincare products. Jacy Drennon, shop manager, spoke about the natural qualities of the business.
Originally started at the farmers market around eight years ago, Moon Rivers Naturals has grown and outsourced to many companies locally and around the U.S. from their shop downtown Tyler.
Most of their products, except a few which use beeswax and dry milk, are vegan. They also only use essential oils instead of fragrance.
Drennon added upcoming new releases including a new face wash, eye serum and a hand lotion.
College students being a big portion of their local business, Moon Rivers Naturals value making products that can work for different skin types, and also creating stress relieving products.
Many have the notion that summer has to be an expensive vacation time, but there are many businesses that students can go visit to have a taste of adventure right in Tyler.
#5 – Velvet Vintage
Moving toward the heart of Tyler, downtown, Velvet Vintage opened in Nov. 2020, and now serves the vintage goods seekers in town. The brand being focused on the 60s and 70s, many styles that are coming back can be found at their shop. There are three owners, but Bailey Franklin, who is mostly in charge of the social media and marketing, spoke about the process of finding items for the shop.
“Even if we don’t know what the piece is, if it looks unique and even if it’s not brand name or known, together we work to try and get this unique vibe throughout everything,” Franklin said.
Going to look for vintage goods mostly on the weekends, they specifically keep an eye out for clothes, furniture, accessories, decorations, jewelry and kitchenware. Velvet Vintage can be found right near Austin Bank.