The intersection of Bailey Ave and Main Street is one of the most iconic sights in Ridgefield; home to Town Hall and Books on the Common. The intersection marks a major hub in Connecticut’s first Cultural District, where parades and events happen throughout the year, and a great place to start when looking for entertainment and shopping locations. It’s no wonder, then, that Ridgefield resident Lina Zhang chose this location to start a new gift shop, directly under Books on the Common.
Known for decades as Turkey Ridge, this unique location is now home to CY Collective, which features CY Collective Owner, Lina Zhang’s curated gifts and her own line of handmade jewelry, as well as a vendor section that displays products from local artisans and even a room used for events and parties.
“I wanted to open something that was more than a gift store,” says Lina. “When I moved here in 2020, the atmosphere was extremely welcoming, both to families and to businesses. In addition to showcasing my own products, I want to be able to return that favor by offering a space for events and birthday art parties as well as an opportunity for other businesses to show off their unique products as a jumping off point for their own endeavors.”
The main area of the shop showcases Lina’s own products; flowing wire jewelry with natural gemstones that are an homage to nature, as well as carefully curated items that are of her Eastern heritage.
Lina was born in Changchun, in the Jilin Province of China, living a simple lifestyle in the countryside during the 70’s and 80’s before moving to larger cities such as Shenzhen and Hong Kong in her adolescence. Although she loved the large modern cities of China, she became fascinated with the country’s cultural heritage traditions that predate modern times by thousands of years, such as Fengshui, medicine, Buddhism, and the appreciation of nature.
”In 1999, I moved to New York City and lived in Brooklyn,” she says. “I couldn’t speak English, but the New York fashion and style was interesting to me, so I spent time learning English and learning to make and sell jewelry.”
She blended the influence of her home culture and love of nature to start selling clothing and handmade jewelry at local craft fairs and outdoor pop-up shows in places like Bryant Park, Union Square, and the Upper East Side. It was at this time she created her first company, called Lina’s Shop.
The jewelry was primarily wire wrapped. It’s a style that doesn’t require a lot of intricate machinery and tools, but it does require a lot of patience and dedication. She didn’t learn from anyone, and this was before the widespread use of YouTube and social media to learn. Whatever she created, it came from her mind and her experience studying the ancient Asian arts and practices. Soon, her jewelry became so popular that she began selling enough to make a comfortable living. She even taught her skills to a few close apprentices and was able to make enough volume for wholesale in the NY Now show in the Javits Center, and others. As Lina’s Shop, she became known around the country for her flowing tree designs, tipped with precious and semi-precious stones and hundreds of other designs, ranging from the most simple gemstone drops to the extraordinary complex designs that collectors have come to love.
After more than 15 years in the wholesale and retail business, Lina now has a young family and wanted a refresh. She left Lina’s Shop with her old partner, and continued making jewelry, but now had a desire to bring more gifts into her line that are influenced from her Asian heritage to keep a close connection to her roots.
“When COVID-19 hit New York, I couldn’t do trade shows and pulled back my wholesale line,” she says. “In March of 2020, I moved to Ridgefield Connecticut and fell in love. The town was so family oriented and had a thriving arts community as well as a comfortable energy of mutual support, both in the business sense and interpersonal sense.”
Here was a town she could raise a family in and begin a new venture; a store that proudly displays her appreciation of the community and her love of her cultural heritage.
CY Collective Begins
In the front of the store is her collection of handmade jewelry as well as unique and hard to find gifts and artwork. The jewelry is made from 14k gold-filled wire, which is resistant to tarnish, and features semi-precious stones. There are also affordable precious stone designs that incorporate rubies and sapphires. Much of the jewelry is creating using baroque pearls from South China, and Lina is always available to make custom pieces if desired.
In the second section of the store is the artisan area, where local businesses can display their products for sale. These range from soaps, clothing, home décor, dishware, gemstones, spiritual gifts, home décor, and more. “The community was so kind to me and always helped my business, so I want to return the favor for anyone who is trying to also get a head start by giving them a space to sell.”
Finally, there is an event room in the back available for rent for art themed birthday parties or other events, such as meetings, instructional events and craft nights.
“I’m so happy to finally have a store open in the Cultural District of Ridgefield and I’m excited to see what’s in store for our future here,” says Lina. “If you see our door open feel free to visit, we will probably have something new every time you come in.”
For more information, go to www.cycollective.net •