Situated next to train tracks on Main Street in Seville is a tiny white structure with a light blue door. Inside, the walls and tables are filled with items by local and commercial artists. The Iris, 40 W. Main St., is the result of six years of work by artist and owner Tracy Herbert.
Offering more than art, The Iris has engravings and ideas for personal gifts, mostly designed by Herbert, who lives in Seville.
“I love to create things,” she said.
When customers want a creative way to say something with a gift, “I’m their design shaman,” she said jokingly.
Herbert, a native of Sandusky who also is a gardener, said the flower was chosen when brainstorming a name for the gift shop because of its meaning.
“The meaning of the iris is faith, wisdom and hope,” she said. “The word was drawn to me.
“I don’t know what we’ll create but with faith, wisdom and hope,” she said she’s inspired by customers.
Herbert is a self-taught graphic designer. She and her husband, Jeff, a business analyst, lived in North Carolina, where she encountered laser engraving machines.
“They were cool,” she said, and they became an inspiration for making products that were different.
Back in Ohio, Herbert, 51, said she realized there weren’t many places that offer unusual gifts.
“I knew this wasn’t going to be a typical awards shop,” she said.
The Herberts’ son, Brad, 23, has a marketing degree from Kent State University and plans to grow the gift shop.
Tracy said Brad works on company promotions but also is learning laser engraving.
“I think we work really well together,” she said.
A younger son, Max, 19, has been working on glass products.
“He’s meticulous,” Tracy said, adding that Max notices flaws she doesn’t immediately see.
“He won’t send merchandise out if it isn’t perfect, which is great” customer service, Tracy said.
Jeff Herbert, 54, originally from Lafayette Township, helps by fixing machinery and gets the computer set up to communicate with machines when needed.
One time as he was learning the laser machine, Jeff was playing around with different settings.
“He shot a hole through a wine bottle,” Tracy said, laughing.
Rounding out the family is Mr. Jones, a rescue dog.
“He’s probably a Frenchie-Boston mix,” Tracy said. He was at a rescue center when they met him. “(Mr. Jones) was the perfect gentleman and he came home with us,” she said.
Mr. Jones loves to greet children at the store. He keeps them occupied so their parents can start the creative process with Tracy on projects.
“He’s the best little guy.”
Travel mugs popular
As The Iris’s profile has grown, “big companies” that Tracy preferred not to name are placing orders for items.
Prices start in the $10 to $12 range, she said. The most “in-demand” item, she said, is insulated travel mugs.
Other items offered are wall decor, personalized duck calls and handmade knives.
When people come to Tracy looking for a gift or award, she said it usually takes a couple days to create a design.
“When I sit down and talk with somebody, a lot of times it (the idea) starts popping.”
Contact reporter Ashley Fox at (330) 721-4048 or email@example.com.