Dog Dance Parties, K9 Civil Disobedience, and Dog Island: An interview with the Peaceful Pack

Photo credit: Peaceful Pack

The Peaceful Pack is an animal boarding service located in Johnston that advertises itself as more of a home than a kennel. It is owned and operated by Ashly and Sheila Rose, and they recently invited me into their pack to talk about owning a business, working with your spouse and bringing pups to protests.

Erica Laros: How did the Peaceful Pack start?

Peaceful Pack: We met in 2012. We met and fell in love and we never left each other’s side since the first time we really hung out. That was 2012 and we got married in 2014. Bought the house and started the business in 2015 and six years later … with Max [their Australian Shepard]. We started off with Coco and Max. We had two dogs. We didn’t want to leave them behind and we didn’t want to miss anything. We didn’t want to miss the little footsteps of Max when he was a baby and Coco as an older dog mixing in with him and seeing their connection together. We didn’t want to miss any of that. She [Shay] was working corporate and I [Ash] was home here and we just kind of fell into it almost. 

We saw that there was a need and saw there was so much value and appreciation. You know when you do something and it’s different when you have an abstract thought about an idea and then you see the reality of it. Then you see when people have tears in their eyes. You can see that we’re really doing something. That makes a difference for one person and it multiplies. 

Even today we saw some dogs and we watched from afar and of course we were interested. We watched for a couple minutes. We saw the owner and hopped out of the car and said hi. We introduced ourselves really quickly and she was like, “This [meeting you] is heaven sent. You just don’t understand.” For us that is big. It makes our whole purpose worth it really.

Photo credit: Peaceful Pack

EL: So were you both dog lovers when you met?

PP: I [Ash] always have been in love with all animals. I’ve been working with horses since I was younger and I was always into animals. And I know Shay had dogs when she was younger as well… 

We are both pretty compassionate and sensitive souls. So those topics already– I [Shay] literally cry all the time. I am always involved in something creative or something that touches your soul a little bit deeper.  So that is already natural to me to be able to care on that level.

So it’s right in alignment with how we really are essentially and how we like to love. And what we learn from the dogs.

And how we like to live, too.

Because it’s a lifestyle.

We are definitely dog aunties and dog moms all the way. 

EL: Tell me a little about how you got the nuts and bolts of the business together. Did you consult a lawyer or friend for help or do it all yourself?

PP: We did everything from the ground up.

Literally learning as you go. Every single day. Even when you feel you have it down you are literally still learning something new.

Everything from talking to other dog boarders to getting a little deeper into that community and learning from them. Exchanging stories and contacts and really piecing things together that work for the way we want to run the business. We want it to feel more homey than a kennel. We don’t want 25 dogs just running in and out. We’re not in it for the money. We’re in it for the connection with the dogs and really serving them and making sure they get the mental exercise and the physical exercise and all the adoration and love they deserve. Because we don’t have long with them. So we have to get it in while we can. [laughs] We want to love them to the fullest. For us that’s an absolute privilege.

Even the fact that we also get to have our own dog [Max] with us makes it that much more fulfilling for us.

The Roses; photo credit: Desiree Boranian

EL: Max has so many friends.

PP: Yes! He loves it! And he knows them all by name. Literally you would be so shocked. Every single one, we will name specifically the dog and he [Max] will grab the dog and come back. He has such great talent.

…It’s wonderful.

EL: And you’ve taken the dogs to political protests. So they are getting their political action in there.

PP: [Laughs] Yes we have. Protests to Pride events to personal Pride events at clients’ homes where they’ve invited us to parties, and we’ve done some weddings. They’re pretty much with us wherever we are. And we are pretty much nowhere without them. [laughs].

EL: So some dogs got to attend to their first protest.

PP: [Laughs] Yes and they loved it. They learn to relax in the car and manage their state while there is a bunch of hectic things going on outside. 

That’s a big deal.

And for them all to be calm and watch everything around them. They’re in on it, and it’s kind of cool to see. We’ve taken them to events and parades and the dogs love it…

They are usually on their best behavior… like sprinkling [magic] dust on them [laughs].

EL: But you do some meditation with the dogs? And sprinkling the magic dust on them? Tell me is there some secret method you use when you have multiple dogs in the house and you want to ‘zen’ them? What’s your secret?

PP: It’s your own inner zen. They feel you as the pack leader — they feel your energy. So if you’re irritated or frustrated and you think it’s in your head and that you can keep it in, they feel all of that. So it’s important to get yourself to a state where you’re like let me relax first, sit down with them, usually it’s being with them present but your inner zen is there. As soon as you are calm, they can feel and it totally resonates with them.

We do have special little tricks though [laughs].

EL: I knew it.

PP: We do a lot of rotating. So meaning that our schedule varies their activities and we keep them busy all day long so when we take a break and sit down they understand the fact that it’s time to relax…We change the atmosphere. 

The music changes a little bit. It comes down to music like this [classical] where everyone is learning to relax and be quiet. The lights will come down. We actually did a little experiment the other day to prove our point where we played this type of music [classical] and everything was quiet-quiet-quiet. We had about seven of them that day. They were nice and quiet. Then we flipped it to some of our hip-hop music where we love to jam out and dance and have a fun time and the dogs love it, too. They party. 

…We love music therapy with the dogs. We do a little crystal healing. We do mini reiki sessions with the dogs. And we do meditations where we sit together as a pack. That could be anything [like] howling with the dogs– which our neighbors must love [laughs]. So we’ll howl with the dogs and they love it and they’re all riled up and then we’ll rotate into resting and sitting with them and loving on them for a little while. Then they’ll run around outside for a little while and we’ll take them on a little road trip. The varying activities are keeping their minds going, their little souls going…They love the varied activities. They love socializing and seeing other dogs. Six feet away obviously.

EL: Of course. Because dogs totally understand social distancing. 

PP: Yes they get it! [laughs].

EL: That’s amazing. What do you find as the biggest challenge of being a business owner?

PP: Trying to meet everyone’s expectations and trying to be available. We’re still just two people even though we want to serve the entire community. You’ll still come across time conflicts. Twelve o’clock is a big, big time everybody wants. 

EL: You also live and work in the same place. Do you have to create boundaries for personal space?

PP: We do create some time boundaries where we are open for appointment only.

That’s the best way.

EL: Who does the photography?

PP: We both do pretty much everything. We both work with and handle the dogs throughout the day. She does most of the driving. I’ll do invoices while she drives. We both do everything pretty much together. Any time we try to do anything separate we just come back to the point that we’re a pack and it’s easier for us and it flows better when we’re all together. Even with the dogs. Everything is with them and for them really. So if we’re not all together it doesn’t feel as in sync. So I think we share all of the responsibilities really equally.

EL: What would be your ideal space if money, land and number of dogs were no object?

PP: … [a] place called Rose Island…near Newport…the first idea that popped into my head is a big island with a whole bunch of dogs and us with G wagons. I just see so many dogs in a big field. I don’t know how that’s going to work. [laughs] [We] would need a boat to pick up and drop off the dogs.

EL: Maybe they could make it Dog Island?

PP: Definitely think a farm would be good for us…Little furnished human quality cabins that we would stay in on a big piece of property with big fields to run in and agility courses.  

EL: Any parting advice to pet owners?

PP: Listen to your dogs. Learn to understand what they want and what they need. When you make that deep connection with the dogs, you’re able to provide a better life for them. And that’s really what we’re here for as pet owners and pet moms and aunties. As caregivers we’re just here to provide for the dogs. A safe place to play. A place to be happy. [It’s important] to really listen to the dog and connect with the dog’s soul. Not just have a dog. It’s wonderful to have an animal, but it’s incredible to connect with that animal on a deeper level where it’s soul to soul.

Giving Rhody a Lfe Line: The latest kid on the fashion block

Clothes carry meaning, and fashion has the power to change social discourse. As the nation wrestles itself free from four years of hateful and divisive politics, society has an opportunity to express what it has learned from the experience and what it will no longer tolerate, and the fashion industry has the tools to communicate that attitude to a national audience. In Rhode Island’s latest apparel Lfe Line, married couple Amos and Katie Goodridge have taken their passion for design and lifestyle and fused it with a commitment to the greater good. 

Amadeus Finlay (Motif): Brand names carry meaning, and nothing is decided upon without deeper thinking. What does Lfe Line mean to you? 

Amos Goodridge: When I think of Lfe Line, I think of dependability, it is about everyday life. The name Lfe Line is unique, I want it to be different from anything out there. It’s not a brand, it’s an empire.

AF: Powerful name, focused intentions… now let’s talk about the clothing. What sets your products apart?

AG: Within our Lfe Line clothing range, our tie dye especially is unique within itself. Each shirt is none like the other giving each customer a one-of-a-kind design with each purchase. But more than that. Lfe Line does not apply to one size gender or race. Lfe Line is for the people.

AF: Do you practice ethical sourcing?

AG: We at Lfe Line strive to produce not quantity but quality clothing. We make it a point to be ethical in all operations of our future empire. The point is to set a strong foundation, and the only way to do so is to do everything the right way.

AF: Your Facebook page also covers a lot of food conversations. What is the relationship there?

AG: What we are trying to accomplish is helping people of all walks of life. Lfe Line is a lifestyle and one of the aspects is nutrition. I wanna show people there’s other ways to nourish your body through natural foods, meditation and exercise.

AF: At a time when socio-political tension is at a high point, what is it about your message of togetherness that compels customers to choose your products?

AG: It starts with the team that we have around us, we have people working with us from all different backgrounds. Our team consists of people from Cambodia, Africa, Portugal and more, giving our clothing a flair like none other.

AF: As the son of Black immigrants from Liberia, and as a woman of mixed European, African and Indigenous cultures, what does this beautiful partnership of romance and commerce say about the potential for a modern America?

AG: It shows what the American dream should be, it’s about unity and bringing everyone together. This is more than just a partnership; this is the solid foundation that is needed for this impending empire.

AF: Any final thoughts for the stylish, socially-conscious people of Rhode Island?

AG: No matter what your background or style you can always LIVE LIFE in Lfe Line.

Laughter and Joy: Spiritual healing shop Spiritually Lit creates a community

Alexandria Lynch and Jessica Rainey toast the season

Alexandria Lynch and Jessica Rainey started their company, Spiritually Lit, shortly after the pandemic put Rhode Island on lockdown. They knew that creating things made them happy, and they sought a way to use their creativity to make others happy. On a chilly fall day, I spent some time on the front stoop with these two women, discussing their business, their philosophy and how motherhood fits into it all.

Emily Olson (Motif): What is Spiritually Lit?

Jessica Rainey: Spiritually Lit is all about spiritual healing. We sell crystals and make hand-poured soy wax candles, sage bundles and self care boxes that might include a bath bomb or bath salt. Everything we make or sell, we infuse with prayer, like a love prayer or a protection prayer. People are asking for a lot of protection prayers these days.

EO: Tell me a little more about infusing your products with prayer.

JR: Take, for example, a protection box. I burned the Eye of Horace into the lid of a wood box. We put a piece of tourmaline in there, which is a stone for protection, and Alex made two protection candles. As Alex makes her candles, she says a little prayer or chant and then everything I do, I do the same. For a protection box, I pray to the guardians of protections against any evil, illness or negativity. 

EO: It sounds like Wiccan and Pagan traditions play a large role in what you do.

JR: People think of Wiccan and Pagan traditions as a dark thing, but it’s self healing. It’s a mixture of the law of attraction, knowing what you want and manifesting what you want in a good way.

Alexandria Lynch: I embrace mindfulness in the Wiccan tradition. When I sweep, I sweep away negativity with the broom. When I stir my tea, I stir in calmness. I like to start my day with meditation and set my day with an intention. That’s magic in itself.

EO: Alex, you have a busy 4-year-old daughter. How do you find the mental space for meditation and peace?

AL: I make my candles when Charlotte [her daughter] goes to bed because that’s when I’m calm. Then when I go to bed, I turn my TV off and sit in my bed with a stone. I breathe in to the count of four and out to four. If I have lingering thoughts on my mind, I let the negative thoughts go and the calm thoughts flow. That’s the hardest thing to do.

EO: Spiritually Lit does live events on Friday nights. Can you tell me about those?

JR: Friday Night Live! Those are fun. When we started the business, we used that as a way to reach people and to let people shop during the pandemic from the comfort of their own home. And we’ve made lots of friends and connections that way.

EO: I watched one and saw the two of you in full costume!

AL: We love dressing up and love Halloween. So for the month of October, we’ve been getting in full costume every Friday night. We do a little live skit at the beginning of our show that sometimes is a fail, but it’s all in fun. We have big secret plans for the 30th. We have a great costume picked out.

EO: What happens during a Friday Night Live show?

JR: People chat with us and have fun. Sometimes we do some education about the crystals we’re selling or I choose a topic to talk about. For example, I just explained what Mercury retrograde means. We do giveaway contests. And if someone wants to purchase one of our items, the first commenter gets it, then we have contactless pickup at my house in Warwick.

EO: What makes a good quality crystal?

AL: The juicier the better. But specific qualities depend on the stone. Clear quartz should have rainbow flashes. With an amethyst, the deeper the purple, the stronger the energies that it carries.

EO: Do the people who buy your products practice Wiccan or Pagan traditions? Or do they hope to gain the benefits of your prayers and expertise?

JR: The people who buy from us just enjoy Jessica and Alex. You don’t have to be Wiccan or Pagan to smudge your house or meditate. It’s just a spiritual journey that everyone goes on.

AL: Everything we do is about laughter and joy.

Watch Spiritually Lit’s Friday Night Live show at 8:30pm on their Facebook page: or check them out on Instagram @spirituallylit401

Cover Your Mouth

A mask should be a tool, however, it’s become a statement during this pandemic. It says, “I care for your health,” and “I care for my community” and “I believe in science.” Local gift shop Frog and Toad figured out a way to amplify that last message with their science-themed mask. Pick up your own statement piece at

Homegrown Art: Creativity abounds in this gallery and nursery mash-up

Mural by Mary (Murph) Lindberg

Homegrown is an unexpected oasis on Providence’s East Side. Inside this unassuming building on Gano Street you’ll find airy, white-walled rooms, fragrant with greenery. An elegantly limned hummingbird and vine mural by artist Mary Linberg hovers on the wall above a display table lined with exotic plants and bonzai pots created by artist Paul Olson. The Homegrown Gallery itself is located on the second floor, but the art here is not limited to the gallery walls. The downstairs retail space is a showcase for the creative life in Providence, from the beautifully designed pottery and planters to the hand-crafted counters and display shelves.

I spoke with Russell Stafford, owner of Homegrown, and Hannah Purcell, who curates the Homegrown Gallery and manages the indoor retail shop. The day we arrived, Stafford was elbow deep in boxes of newly arrived succulents, obviously in his element. “Russell is a plant genius,“ Purcell said, and she was not exaggerating. Stafford’s knowledge about plants was initially self taught, but after he got a master’s in English literature at Andrews University, he went on to study biology and botany at Harvard, earning his second master’s degree in forest science. Homegrown is not a shop that re-sells plants raised en masse by wholesalers. Along with indigenous Rhode Island plants, Stafford cultivates rare varieties you are unlikely to find anywhere else. They are all raised organically, either in Stafford’s nursery out back, or at Revive the Roots in Smithfield.   

Rarities about at Revive the Roots

Stafford and Purcell met through their involvement with Revive the Roots, a non-profit with the mission “to create ecologically regenerative and dynamic social spaces through the education and practice of permaculture.” Stafford is the master horticulturist for this Smithfield-based organization. Purcell’s own background is in art – she has a BFA in print making from the University of Buffalo; fortunately, she also has a very good grasp of retail. Stafford and Purcell’s combined talents, along with their shared interest in sustainability, have created a great synergy that is apparent throughout the shop and gardens. Stafford said, “I knew what I wanted for the design, but Hannah would listen to my ideas, and then take them to a whole other level.” 

Purcell has also taken the concept of nature-themed artwork to another level in the Homegrown Gallery upstairs. For those expecting botanical drawings, the wall-sized paintings by artist Sun Quest, splashed with deep, vivid colors and abstract forms, are a surprise. Purcell explains: “The concept for the gallery is about exploring all of what nature-themed artwork can be – from those that are very specifically based on nature, to those that are inspired by nature … we are looking for diversity.”

Homegrown Gallery featuring the work of Robin Halpren-Ruder, Sun Quest and Pablo Youngs

The current show displays just that – artist Pablo Youngs uses spray paint and stencils to create dense patterns and geometric designs with a distinctive Mexican flare; Sun Quest layers pictorial ideas and paint in order to generate sensations and feelings of organic phenomena; and Robin Halpren-Rude’s paintings are an expression of pure happiness, their flowers belying a life defined by a struggle with medical issues. This is not your usual floral show.

Work by Sun Quest

Moving from the upstairs gallery to the floor below, the aesthetic carries through. Stafford said, “We want to celebrate Providence and the people here who are doing so many amazing things with arts and crafts.” There is a nod to students and apartment dwellers with the tiny air plants in their animal shaped leather vases, made by Betsey Williamson. “They symbolize how the outside and the inside are tied together,” said Stafford. Every element in the shop has been thoughtfully considered. The hand-crafted counters are made from re-purposed materials – leftover tiles, cinder blocks and wood – yet the overall ambience is clean and modern, with simple lines and artful spatial design.

Purcell tells us that the response from local artists has been very positive. “We’re already working on another show for late September. A lot of artists are really excited to see a new gallery starting up.” The Homegrown retail shop welcomes garden accessory ideas and creations from Providence artisans as well. If you love plants, art and Providence, Homegrown is a must-see. 

Homegrown is open Tuesday through Sunday at 135 Gano St, PVD. Visit their website at for hours, directions, and a truly unique online shopping experience. You can also follow Homegrown at and on Instagram @HomegrownPVD



Notes Coffee Company: 508 Armistice Blvd, Pawtucket. They held their grand opening on July 17, this java shop is dedicated to melding music with a cafe scene.

Industrious Spirits Company: 1 Sims Ave, #103 PVD. Providence’s first distillery since the days of Prohibition. They specialize in gin and vodka, with bourbon currently aging. 

Wayfinder Hotel: 151 Admiral Kalbfus Rd, Newport. Formerly the Mainstay Hotel, this North End Newport hotel went under a $16 million renovation, with brand new walls, floors and ceilings. It has the largest hotel room of any establishment in Newport, and they are currently in the process of installing a fitness center (which is quite a workout). More than 1,000 pieces of local Rhode Island art have found their way there.

Open Air Saturdays: Every Saturday in August, Westminster Street in PVD will be closed to cars, so patrons can enjoy social distance shopping. Local businesses are hoping it will draw customers back to the downtown area. Who likes driving down Westminster Street anyway?

Crepe Corner: 1577 Westminster St, PVD. This breakfast/ Belgian eatery opened a new storefront in PVD on Westminster St.

Durk’s BBQ: Closing their Thayer Street location, this southern fried inspired eatery will be reopening sometime this month on Aborn Street.


Loie Fuller: This art-deco styled restaurant was a jewel in PVD’s Armory District for over a decade. It closed July 29, with no plans to reopen.

Duck and Bunny: Under renovations since 2019, owners have announced it will not be reopening before 2021. Their satellite bakery in Pawtucket’s Hope Artiste Village, the Cafe and Sweetery, recently closed.

Greenville Inn: Owner-operators Diane and Jim Belknap ran this Greenville eatery for more than 23 years. While they thought of reopening for takeout, they enjoyed the time off at home and have officially retired. 

Knead Donuts: The Custom Street, downtown PVD location closed. Knead still has two other locations in Providence, and a new location in East Greenwich.

Luxe Burger Bar: When the weekday lunch crowd dried up, the fat lady sang for this Providence burger place.

Red Fin Crudo: This Washington Street eatery announced just last month they would be closing permanently due to the pandemic. Fin.

Public Art Gallery: Sadly even the biggest community boosters among us are facing a pinch. Public has been closed for five months, and due to a revenue shortfall, it will be vacating its current space when the lease ends this month. They’re planning to reopen in a new location in 2021. Anyone interested in donating to them to help with costs go can to:

Brickley’s in Wakefield has announced it’s temporarily closing. The decision comes as numerous beach businesses in Rhode Island face rude and unsavory customers who are upset by new COVID regulations.

Mulligan’s Island has been for sale for a while, and it may have a buyer. Developers from Massachusetts are seeking a mixed use planned district for the area, envisioning putting in a CostCo and other smaller scale commercial retail and restaurants. 

Pier 1 is the latest national retail big box chain to close. It had only two locations, one in Westerly and one in Warwick, but its closure shows it’s not just local business feeling the fallout from a pandemic.

Get Your Flea Fix!: Providence Flea returns to the great outdoors

If you, like us, have been missing your casual Sunday shop along the river at the Providence Flea, have we got some good news for you! On Sunday, August 2, Providence Flea will begin a 5-week outdoor trial run that welcomes shoppers back to the river.

Providence Flea takes safety seriously, and it’s made some changes to its format to ensure the health of its vendors and shoppers. Fewer vendors will attend each event — rather than three rows of vendors, shoppers can expect two for a total of 38. Vendors prefer cashless payment, and crossing rows between vendors will be prohibited. Masks and social distancing will be required.

As always, food trucks will be available at the Flea. Some of them might require preordering, which can be done on site. And although eating while browsing isn’t allowed, there’s plenty of space along the river for a picnic. What better way is there to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon?

Providence Flea takes place Sundays, Aug 2 – 30 from 10am – 2pm across from 345 South Water St, PVD; for more information on social distancing guidelines, go to

The Skye Is the Limit: Skye Gallery adjusts to life under lockdown

When I visited Skye Gallery on March 7, it was packed – people spilling out onto the sidewalk, voices bubbling and music throbbing inside the brightly lit reception for DIVINE 2020. On April 29, Jonny and I faced each other across a white table in the back room, masks in place while keeping a careful social distance. The opening seemed like a memory from another world. I asked this Providence gallery owner how the pandemic had gone down at Skye.

Jonny Skye: I was closely monitoring online; every day there was a new unfolding. We’d had that very well-attended opening on March 7; even then, a couple of concerned people wore gloves and stayed outside. This gave me pause. By March 12, when Mayor Elorza declared a state of emergency and the city stopped issuing entertainment licenses, I knew I had to cancel all events. By March 28, Governor Raimondo said all non-essential businesses must close. Everyone was staying inside by that point anyway.

Cathren Housley (Motif): Did you have a plan in place for adjusting to the new restrictions?

JS: I did not have a plan. I am still making it up as I go. There is no solid ground in this dilemma we face. Being flexible and paying attention to all the information available is daily work; it has taken some time to sort through what makes sense business wise for the gallery. 

CH: RI has really stepped up to help the people of the state. What was available for sole proprietors like you? 

JS: I applied for over eight grants and supports. As soon as I saw something go up, I dropped everything and applied. The Artist Relief Fund (RISCA, RI Foundation, Providence Dept of Art, Culture and Tourism, and the Alliance for Artist Communities) responded first and really gave me a bolt of confidence that I wasn’t going to lose the gallery. Soon after, the money through the RI Dept. of Labor and Training for small businesses also came through. The other grants I applied for I haven’t heard from yet. I really need to find grants, as my business model is commission based – I don’t have assets to borrow against.

CH: What other responsibilities and problems have you had to take on because of the pandemic shutdown?  

JS: There is too much to say here. I am responsible for supporting the health and optimism of the artists I work with – ongoing conversations, sending opportunity links, writing and submitting on their behalf, and generally sharing woes and hopes. The gallery is not just a business, it is a support system for many people; I do consulting with local businesses outside of the gallery as well. I am a mother of four grown children who are navigating the situation independently, yet need varying degrees of support. For me, and most others, providing emotional and tangible support to family and friends, along with the daily worry of infection, has added a lot of extra responsibility.

CH: So, how do you do business with all that going on, when people are being hit with a global crisis like this one? 

JS: I felt morally conflicted. How could I promote art sales when people were anxious, sick, dying, hungry and housing insecure, when the scaffolding of everyday life was being taken away? I know art is critical to humanity, but I couldn’t reconcile it in my heart. When the idea of virtual openings was pushed by folks, I couldn’t reconcile that for the gallery either. I see art objects as talismans, not just images. They hold the spirit of the artists who poured themselves into their creation. ­Being able to gather at events and opening celebrations were key marketing and community building efforts of the gallery. So I’ve had to let my thoughts and feelings unfold, along with all this new input, to find the right mix of respect for people and art that aligned with the mission of the gallery, and the reason I am doing this anyway.  

CH: How do you keep going in the meantime?

JS: I was heartened by some early success from the DIVINE 2020 exhibition – mostly friendly neighbors who wanted to ensure the gallery would remain and were also excited to acquire a new piece of art while supporting an artist and a giving positive boost to their creative confidence. This energy has waned in the past month or so, but luckily, the added supports I mentioned earlier are allowing me to cover the basics of rent and utilities and give me room to imagine and build the framework for a new business model. I want to capitalize on the need of folks for intimacy and a sensory experience with art, as it connects us with humanity. I have decided to hang shows in the front of the gallery through the end of the year so people can clearly view new work from the sidewalk. I will operate by appointment, encouraging patrons to come safely one or two at a time, experience the work, enjoy conversation and check out our back room stock. I have built a new scheduling function into the website,, as well added more work to the website. I will continue my IG and FB promotion and add new initiatives as the days unfold, to stay relative to what’s going on.

CH: What do you think the biggest disadvantages to lockdown are? And do you see anything positive coming out of it?

JS: The negatives are the anxiety, fear, separation, dying alone, mourning alone and the seeding of more distrust.

At the same time, we have been given the gift of slowing down – the earth gets a breath and we get a breath. There is an opportunity in this for each of us to reflect on the meaning of our lives and the ways our patterns aligned or didn’t align to what truly matters to each of us. It’s a short trip our spirits get to take in the human body. Taking the time to see who we are outside of work hustle and consumption is good for our culture and the collective energy of the planet.

CH: Any parting thoughts?

JS: I am supremely grateful that Skye Gallery is important to this community. I am committed to the artists and patrons who value it and will continue to ensure its relevance so that it can continue to uplift and help us see a way forward with respect for life and our culture.

Skye Gallery will present new paintings by Brett Cimino, on view beginning Saturday, May 23, 2020. INTERTWINED, the current show featuring the work of Nepalese artist Ragini Upadhayay Grela (see story at will continue to be available for view and purchase at, along with the works of other artists. You can schedule a visit to 381 Broadway in Providence at; Skye Gallery can always be reached at and 401-481-4480, and be sure to follow@skye_gallery  

Bubble, Bubble

If you’re washing your hands eleventy-million times a day, you’re doing it right. If you’re not using local soap, you could be doing it better. Check out our roundup of local soapmakers that will make your 37th trip to the sink feel like less of a chore.

Legend’s Creek Farm: Soap made with goat milk is naturally hydrating because of its high fat content. Good news for those of us dealing with sandpaper hands. Shop online at

Cathryn Violet Artisan Soap: These vegan soaps are made with natural ingredients and organic botanicals. Shop online at

Stella Marie Soap Company: You’ll think these brightly colored and deliciously scented soaps look good enough to eat. But don’t. Shop online at

The Reynolds Barn: These organically shaped goat milk soap bars come from happy goats who wear sweaters! Shop online at

Plainville Homestead: Quartz crystals are embedded in these soaps to provide protection beyond cleanliness. Shop online at

Cleaning House: Maid in RI makes busy people less busy

The basic upkeep of a home can be daunting, leading people to put it off, which only makes for more work. While some people find it to be therapeutic (seems like people like to either cook or clean; rarely both), a good chunk will just shut a door or shove everything into a closet in hopes that it takes care of itself. 

There are many reasons for dodging housework. Health issues, new baby, extremely busy schedule, family commitments and general laziness are just a few. But there are local cleaning services that are more than willing to take that burden off a person’s plate.

Laura Grilli was working for another agency, but wasn’t happy with the quality of services they were providing for customers.

“The company would often cut corners and worked to get the job done instead of working to make the client happy,” Grilli said of her decision to leave and start her own company, Maid in RI, LLC in May 2019.

Grilli stocked up on proper cleaning equipment, obtained an LLC and started marketing her business to homes and commercial properties. Using word of mouth and a Facebook page that featured pictures of her work, Maid in RI started to grow, steadily gaining new customers who were satisfied with her performance. Grilli takes the time to find out what customers are looking for and discuss all expectations before starting a job. It is her goal to fully exceed all of these expectations, leaving customers thrilled with the completed job.

“The client feedback I’ve received thus far has been very positive,” Grilli says. “Some new clients requested professional references and later tell me the glowing reviews others have given.”

Maid in RI is available for a one-time service, whether it be for a basic or deep clean. They also offer weekly, bi-weekly or monthly rates, all depending on the needs of the customers. All potential services are discussed and agreed upon, and Grilli strives to keep the price fair and competitive.

When looking for a cleaning service, Grilli strongly suggests checking professional references, requesting proof of insurance and finding someone who will respect the space as their own. Grilli proudly boasts that “professional” and “dependable” are the two most popular words that references use to describe her and the business.

Grilli says that there are many advantages to hiring a cleaning service for your home. Opportunity cost is the biggest; as it gives people more time to spend with friends and family or to complete other needed errands. Some customers don’t end up realizing how bad they have left the mess of their house pile up until after they see how it looks when she is done.

Grilli’s biggest goal for the business is to continue to grow through great effort and word of mouth and make her customers happy. She prides herself on treating every job as if she is cleaning her own home.

Maid in RI provides both commercial and residential cleaning services. Check out their Facebook page: @MaidinRILLC. Call 401-440-8446 or email for more information.