Artists find a home in Debra's Cottage

COSTA MESA — Marilyn Somers carefully hung a sunflower wreath alongside other floral creations blooming with butterflies, robins and smiling Jack-O-lanterns on Thursday inside Debra's Cottage.

"This started off as a hobby and worked its way into a business," the Anaheim artist said. "I have a glue gun and piece all these together myself."

Somers' compact "cubby space," about 12 square feet of floor space plus a ceiling-high display wall, was packed with a rainbow of the hand-made fabric, wire and wood creations.

The space to the right of Somers' featured high-end candles and colorful wall art and picture frames.

More than 100 vendors rent space inside Debra's Cottage, a 10,000-square-foot gifts and home decor store. The result is a shopping bonanza of different local artists' unique creations, handmade goods and vintage items.

"We're here just to give someone else the opportunity to have a store, but without all the headaches of a store," said owner Debra Vaughan-Unruh of Anaheim.

Vendors are able to rent display space starting at $85 per month and are consolidated under Vaughan-Unruh's business license, freeing the oft-times beginner artists from the responsibility.

It is this relationship that attracted Somers, who has been a part of the diverse mix of artists and vendors for nearly five years.

"I like making the items, just not the business side of it," Somers said.

Other vendors selling fragrant soaps, beaded jewelry, shabby chic furniture and hand-stamped greeting cards have been with Vaughan-Unruh since the cottage first opened in 2004.

The only major criteria that Vaughan-Unruh holds vendors to when considering them as renters is that their product is unique and that they are willing to give a six-month commitment.

And with the high number of diverse artists creating one-of-a-kind items, the product mix changes daily, Vaughan-Unruh said.

The Debra's Cottage website,, has hundreds of photos of the selection, but it in no way comes close to capturing the full range of products, she said.

"I love it — every day is different," Vaughan-Unruh said. "You never know what to expect."

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