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Meet Moss {Shop Tour}

I recently came in contact with a lovely store called Moss located in Savannah, Georgia (and now online). Owned by Colin Brotherton and managed by Ryan Meashaw, the home design store opened in 2007 carrying unique gifts and accessories, “style inspired by nature” as Ryan calls it. The store was opened for the same reason most shop owners agree to take on such a huge responsibility, because he wanted to share his vision of what stylish design with a natural touch looks like. “I love the contrast of a formal Chinoiserie bureau juxtaposed with a rustic driftwood framed mirror or vintage taxidermy,” Colin says. He buys what he likes, putting his heart and soul into Moss with every purchase. I had a chance to ask this creative business owner a few questions about shop ownership for all those out there who have entertained the thought of opening the doors to your very own storefront.


decor8: Hi Colin! My first questions is in regards to your store name. How did you decide upon Moss?

Colin: Moss came about because we wanted a one-word memorable name that was modern yet organic and natural at the same time. Plus it seemed appropriate with the Spanish Moss that can be found all over Savannah.

decor8: Everyone thinks of shop ownership as this magical dream they’d love to be a part of. In reality, it can be much different and often very challenging. What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced and how do you handle them?

Colin: Understanding cash flow can be a big obstacle. It takes being focused to overcome this problem. Figuring out the flow of business is challenging. Our economy is so up and down that it can be difficult to stay on top of this issue. And it can also be a challenge to narrow down all the incredible choice in cool products that flood the market. But of course this is also the fun part!


decor8: What do you love about owning a shop?

Colin: That it allows me to discover new items and share my unique perspective with others. We really strive to make design simple and affordable for everyone. And you know, Mother Nature is one of the most stylish woman around!

decor8: How do you source the products that you carry?

Colin: I travel to NYC twice a year and also the Highpoint furniture market. In addition we are constantly on the lookout for new and innovative products that we may come across – be it online, in magazines, etc. I love searching the shows for cool things. It’s a lot harder then people might think pouring through literally thousands of items, picking out the few jewels that I know will shine bright at Moss. I also scour design blogs for unique and unusual items. I love finding designers and artists out there who are just starting out and have a unique perspective.


decor8: I’m happy to know that design blogs are helpful to you, that’s great. What about the other way around, if someone wants to approach you about carrying their line…

Colin: We love when artists seek us out. We are of course available by email. Including good images of your work is more likely to get you noticed.

decor8: I can’t stress the value of good images, you are so right! Another question about your store, how do you let people know you exist?

Colin: We are fortunate to have some great local magazines to work with as far as marketing goes. Also, the internet is great for us to reach out to new customers and those returning. Savannah is an amazing place with around 7 million tourists a year gracing her moss-draped streets. We find that word of mouth and of course location, location, location! are great tools. I also want to mention that a fair number of our business is from tourists who return home after just a few days in our fair city. These customers began requesting an online storefront where they could buy our items from home. After an overwhelming response we have come to the realization that there is a larger market we can reach through e-commerce so we opened a store online just a few weeks ago on January 30th.


decor8: That’s great, congratulations! Now let’s talk profit. Is it true that as a shop owner you don’t see real earnings until after the first year in business?

Colin: They say it can take a few years before you start earning a profit from most businesses. And I think this can very much be the case. But we have been fortunate in our first year and have really seemed to find our niche because we are already seeing a profit on our hard work.

decor8: You must know your market very well there in Savannah! Can you tell us more about your frequent shoppers and what are some of the most popular lines?

Colin: Our average customer is definitely a woman, between about 20-70 years of age. She is educated, savvy, stylish and sometimes a bit alternative. She appreciates the classics but also loves to discover something that is different. As for lines, it’s hard to pinpoint specific best-selling brands, but we do sell an awful lot of bath and body products. People really seem to like a good bar of soap! We do very well with our French soaps. Another popular type of item are cards and stationery. We carry brands like Jonathan Wright, Cavallini and Saturn Press. The life-like animals of Hansa have proved surprisingly popular.


decor8: Are other small business owners in your area supportive and how so?

Colin: Yes, the local businesses have been very supportive. They have shared information on being successful in Savannah, the flow of tourism, the high season vs. the low season, etc. Savannah takes some adapting to get used to. And we have thankfully had some help with that.

decor8: Thank you Colin for telling us a little about your store, sharing some insight, and of course we appreciate the photos and the mentioning of your new online shop. Thank you again for meeting up with me here on the web today. We wish you tons of continued success!

Readers: If you have any questions to add to this interview please jump in and ask Colin by commenting below.

(images from moss)

Posted by decor8 in interviews, Shop Tours, small business, travel on February 11, 2008

Your comments...

  1. Penny People Designs commented
    February 11th, 2008 at 11:39pm

    Gorgeous store! I’m dying to know if you have the paint style for that gorgeous green throughout your shop…

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  2. LIBERTY POST EDITOR commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 12:26am

    What an amazing shop. I must say the colour of the walls really caught my eye and made me want to look at every single item.

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  3. Jane commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 12:50am

    I am definitely checking this store out next month when we visit Savannah. Thanks!

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  4. Anonymous commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 2:24am

    “Moss” has been a store in Toronto since around 2000. I bought my patio furniture there in 2002.

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  5. Jenny commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 2:25am

    Are the German botanical prints in the second to last photo for sale? We decor8 readers have been teased with the idea for so long with no way of really figuring out how to get them from the manufacturer! Love the deer one. Thanks in advance.

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  6. cc commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 2:28am

    Beautiful! I see they have the botanical charts you love so much!

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  7. Moss commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 2:31am

    Hi there…I’m glad you’re enjoying the store! This is Ryan, btw. The green was Colin’s idea and I must admit I had my doubts at first. But it really has proved to be the perfect color and making the merchandise pop!

    For those interested the color is called “Irish Moss” and is by Waverly. But I just looked that up online and it looks nothing like this green, hmmm…

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  8. Irene commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 2:33am

    I was recently approached by Moss to sell some prints in their store, so this is a timely post. What a gorgeous shop!

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  9. decor8 commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 2:55am

    Jenny you must have missed my post back in December, you can get them from a nice little shop in South Carolina, here’s the post:

    http://decor8.blogspot.com/2007/12/sitting-room-chart-crush.html

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  10. Erin Lang Norris commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 3:32am

    Yay! Wonderful post. :) I must say that Ryan has to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever been approached by when asked if I do consignment! I can’t wait to show my husband this post- now he’ll be able to see where I’m sending all the pieces I’ve been working on to! Keep it up, Colin and Ryan!

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  11. Diana Evans commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 3:45am

    great shop! and cool that they are on-line….

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  12. Moss commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 3:51am

    Yes, the botanical prints are for sale. These particular designs are actually discontinued and are no longer available. The deer is actually a separate figurine standing in front of the print…sorry about that. You can email or call if you’re interested!

    Thanks Erin!

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  13. Anonymous commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 4:12am

    I have a question for Colin. What is your background?

    I want to visit Savannah in the Spring, when is the best time to avoid Spring Break?

    And finally when you mentioned that Savannah needs ‘some help adapting to’, can you elaborate please?

    Chris

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  14. Moss commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 4:55am

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve never had any formal training but I started a few years ago in the floral design business. Over the years I dabbled with interior design which eventually led to retail.

    As far as visiting Savannah in the spring…I think that April is a great time. The city is literally awash with vivid color. The azaelas are in bloom as well as the magnolias and many other blooming trees and flowers. The majestic oaks are draped with long tendrils of Spanish moss…it’s almost fantasy-like.

    Savannah is a really unique place and that just takes some getting used to. It’s a pretty serious city due to all of the amazing history that has taken place, but, it retains a real bohemian vibe, which is pretty incredible. Truly…there is no other place quite like Savannah..!!!

    I wanted to say thank you to Holly for posting about us and thanks to everyone else for your interest and kind words.

    Colin

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  15. Anonymous commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 5:15am

    Colin thanks for answering. Your store is amazing. Screw formal training because no amount can give you the eye and talent that you are blessed with. I know many grads that will never have your success because design school does not a talented retailer make.

    Thanks Decor8Holly for featuring these guys. I will pay them a visit in the future.

    Chris

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  16. Passementerie commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 5:39am

    What a great interview! Moss is one of my absolute favorite shops in Savannah (and thankfully only a short walk from my apartment) so it was really exciting to see an interview with a local shop owner!

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  17. Pomegranate commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 7:31am

    This is lovely! How gorgeous are those butterfly framed photos/pictures?

    If i’m ever in the area, this is definitely worth a trip to.

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  18. Mirka commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 1:53pm

    Very interesting interview. And I love that vibrant green, a fantastic choice in my opinion. Success!!

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  19. Katie commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 5:21pm

    Great write-up! So nice to see pictures of your actual storefront! Can’t wait to work with you!

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  20. Moss commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 6:42pm

    Hi Passementerie,

    I’m so glad you made it to Savannah! You do such gorgeous work! Have you been in the store…you should say hi sometime. Did you find Central Animal Hospital OK? I gave you some advice regarding that on the Etsy forums.

    Pomegranate – the butterflies are actual specimens that have been raised and collected in a sustainable method. They come framed with their species name and a map indicating their country of origin.

    Katie – We’re excited to work with you also…can’t wait to see your pieces!

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  21. stay beautiful commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 7:38pm

    hey colin and ryan,
    jonathan harper here.. yup.. canadian kid in savannah.. bet you didnt know i was so active in the ‘blog world’ .. haha.. for all the people out there.. i have been in the shop and it is just perfect and its run by 2 top notch people!
    congrats guys and i will see you soon!
    jonathan
    ps- great write up!

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  22. The Nester commented
    February 12th, 2008 at 10:39pm

    Hi all!

    It’s my first time here and I was directed here by Ryan. I’m in love with Moss and now, all things that are this wonderful green! I too was contacted about consigning and feel like a country bumpkin compared to all of you delightful design types!

    Love your blog and look forward to checking back often!

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  23. decor8 commented
    February 13th, 2008 at 4:50am

    This is great, now I told my husband and he wants to fly to Savannah because neither of us have ever been so who knows… We may be visiting in April now ourselves. And if we do, Colin/Ryan we will stop in for sure. :) Do you know @home vintage general Liz? She is lovely. And the cupcake shop I saw on the Food Network, can’t recall the name but I want to go there so badly. The couple was darling.

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  24. Moss commented
    February 13th, 2008 at 4:18pm

    Hey Jonathan…we didn’t know you hung out in blog world!

    Nester – I’m sure you’re not a country bumpkin at all!

    Holly – We would sure love to have you. I guarantee that you would not be disappointed by Savannah. Of course we know Liz, she’s a super sweet and very talented lady! I think you’re probably referring to Back in the Day, located in the Starland District. Their lavender cookies are my fav!

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  25. Anonymous commented
    March 25th, 2008 at 10:47pm

    Thanks, Folks at Moss. You emailed me the name of the green paint and I just put in up in my condo. It’s beautiful. Thank you very much again.

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