The Artist Charts a New Path with a New Focus on Painting | Rowboat key

T-shirts are a staple souvenir, but this is Longboat Key after all. No one wants to leave this island paradise with a three-for-$20 outfit with a dodgy slogan.

“The feedback I get is that a lot of people want to be able to donate something that says Longboat Key, but they don’t want it to be a T-shirt,” said Heather Rippy, owner of Driftwood Beach Home & Garden. .

Stephanie Troxler, an enterprising 33-year-old mother and lifelong artist, solved Rippy’s problem with a watercolor map of Longboat Key.

“It’s so specific to this little community and this island, and I also think what’s special is that it’s done by a local artist,” Rippy said. “You can put the words Longboat Key on anything, but it actually supports a local artist at a local store.”

Troxler lives in Bradenton with her husband and 2-year-old twin daughters. She’s been a doodle dreamer and sketcher since she was a girl herself. She still remembers her favorite day in elementary school when her teacher would lay canvases on the grass for the class to paint outside. “It was the coolest thing. It was kind of like my first artistic experience,” she said.

Fast forward to midlife in 2020, and Troxler’s childhood daydreams have started to come true. She had babies at home and was unable to return to work as a dental hygienist due to COVID-19 shutdowns. “For my own sanity, I would paint when the girls were sleeping,” she said.

Friends started making so many requests that Troxler opened an Etsy store. She recently left Etsy to start her own website, LittleBlueDesignsUS.com and also has independent brand representation now. The goal is to expand across the Gulf Coast and eventually nationwide.

“I have a personal relationship with every artist here, so it’s really fun, but they’re all pretty much in Florida,” Rippy said, “Stephanie is unique in that I really see her becoming something that could be a national brand.”

Troxler started painting cards when a client asked for something cute to greet his guest at a bachelorette party. She created a watercolor map of Harbor Island in the Bahamas and put it on postcards.

The water-colored ball rolled from there.

Find Troxler’s Longboat Key Card at Driftwood Beach Home and Garden.

Troxler first painted a watercolor map of Anna Maria Island, then Longboat Key. Rippy sells towels, prints and canvases with the pink and turquoise map of Longboat Key in his shop and says they are very popular. So much so that Rippy started buying rather than shipping items.

“There’s no betting in taking his job.”

You don’t have to enter Driftwood Beach to see the design. Look to the left of the shop to the next salon, Design 2000. When a window was smashed and replaced with plywood, Troxler turned an accident into art. She painted a mural of the signature card on the plywood.

“That’s a big giveaway,” Trippy said, “she didn’t get paid to do this.” The mural took nearly six hours and will stay with Design 2000 long after the window has been repaired. Owner Irina LaRose has a spot on hold.

But Troxler’s place in the dental office will have to be filled by someone else. She is now a full-time artist and said she is considering hiring an assistant as it becomes impossible to keep up with inventory and social media demands.

“I didn’t go to school for business, so learning that side of things was a challenge.” A challenge that Troxler appreciates: “I had to learn on my own, but that’s the goal. The goal is to grow it and hopefully become a nationally recognized brand.


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About Catharine C. Bean

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