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ST CROIX — Art studio & boutique meets after school program that strives to help the children of the St. Croix community discover how unique they truly are! Unique by Maria Banwaree Art Studio & Boutique was founded in October 2019 with a primary goal to provide children with the help and encouragement needed to learn about who they are. Owner Maria Banwaree used to work with the children at her church in various capacities like art and reading and wanted to reach children beyond the holy sanctuary.

The first phase of the business was to build out the artist studio. In doing so, Banwaree helped students focus on mental health through the arts. “When you embrace who you are, that you are a unique and particular creation, everything works better in life,” said Banwaree. A secondary need became apparent through this first phase — the homework and task room. According to Banwaree, students would often need assistance with their homework when they participated in the artist studio. “Creating this room helped to fill the gap for a much-needed service, and it all went hand in hand.” The six-week summer camp is full of fun and learning where children can develop their artistic sides in the following areas: arts and crafts, painting, jewelry, beading, reading and writing, Spanish classes, agriculture, and much more. “At the end of the six weeks, the kids are completely transformed with more confidence and stronger belief that they are capable of accomplishing whatever they put their minds to.”

The global pandemic resulted in a shift in the business. With schools closed and everyone sheltering in place, Banwaree started a boutique selling name-brand items like Michael Kors, Guess, Calvin Klein, and Coach. The boutique offers an array of items including handbags, luggage, jewelry, women’s clothing, perfumes, candles, and books in English and Spanish. The boutique’s inviting atmosphere and top-notch customer service allow for a pleasant shopping experience for anyone who walks through its doors. Banwaree is quick to point out that the boutique is a complement to what she offers, with the studio being the true core of the business.

Be sure to check out the various events hosted at the studio. Embroidery and crystal candle-making classes are a few of the options available regularly, along with paint and sip classes and kid’s art classes. The studio’s first women’s retreat, I Am A Woman, was held on September 16, 2023. In collaboration with 506 Scents & Co., the retreat was geared towards helping women overcome their daily struggles, insecurities, and challenges by focusing on their mental and emotional well-being.

Unique by Maria Banwaree is located at 6 Company Street in downtown Christiansted and is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 6pm and Saturday from 10am to 7pm. Find out about their specialty classes and programs on their Facebook page at uniquebyMB or by calling 340.473.1104.

Written by Anquanette Gaspard