Anna McCraney’s Blank Canvas Showroom brings creativity and whimsy to the Starland District
SINCE 2013 ANNA MCCRANEY has worked with independent makers across the country to develop and produce their collections through her design incubator, Blank Canvas Development. But after a couple years of working from home, thanks in part to the lingering pandemic, she was ready for something new.
What that would be, McCraney didn’t immediately know. But last spring, she unexpectedly found inspiration in an empty space in the middle of renovations on Bull Street between 34th and 35th streets. Today, that space is home to Blank Canvas Showroom, a retail-shop-meets-design-studio in the Starland District, where McCraney offers collections from a rotating cast of designers she’s worked with through her production and development business, as well as a signature Blank Canvas collection, and a few of her own one-off pieces for good, creative measure.
“I wasn’t looking to open a retail space, but I happened to walk past that building almost every day as it was being worked on, and slowly, the idea came together,” McCraney recalls. “I was really energized by the idea of interacting with the community — to have the opportunity to welcome locals wandering in, bring new designers to Savannah and just be public-facing after being holed up in my house for so long.”
At Blank Canvas Showroom, shoppers can find offerings from a number of national and local designers, including upcycled vintage blazers and dresses from New York-based Alayna Nieters, a designer who also works as production manager for Blank Canvas Development; onesies adorned with phrases like “Writer,” “Engineer” and “Wildcard” from Vermont-based Mother of Stone; digitally printed floor mats from Savannah fiber artist Trish Andersen; and books from Aint—Bad, a local, independent publisher.
The lineup of designers is constantly rotating, and as Sedona Baldaccini, Blank Canvas Development’s marketing director, explains, that’s part of the fun. “There’s always something new in the store, and we’re always curious to see which brands resonate with clients and which ones don’t,” she says. This spring, newcomers DEPT. ANOYM and Poplin & Co. will join the in-store designer roster.
There are plenty of products from the Blank Canvas brand to choose from, too, like custom Savannah toile print bags, napkins, pillows and other home products; cozy hoodies and joggers; and a scented room spritz from its apothecary line. A custom jewelry station, where shoppers can create their own pieces from various chains and charms, is perfect for those in search of a one-of-a-kind item to take home.
“I love just throwing things up on the board here in the studio and seeing the response.” — Anna McCraney
“There’s such a community of people here in Savannah who appreciate design — and who love to shop for unique pieces,” McCraney says. “That’s not always easy to do when so much of fashion today is cookie-cutter and poorly made. It’s been really refreshing to be able to introduce great indie designers, who make and produce their clothes right here in the U.S., to locals.”
For McCraney, the showroom and studio have also provided a much-needed opportunity to flex her own creative muscles. Trained as a pattern maker, she’s dedicated the bulk of her time to helping other makers in the last decade. But lately, she’s gotten back to painting, inspired by eclectic found prints and patterns in fabric that she may turn into a one-off piece for sale at Blank Canvas Showroom one day.
“So much of my work is helping clients create a pattern for one particular item they’ll produce, so it’s nice to have the time and space to be more creative,” she says. “I love just throwing things up on the board here in the studio and seeing the response.”