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Sanctuary {Austin}

I was so pleased when Hanna Curran from Sanctuary in Austin, Texas wrote to me over the weekend. Sanctuary is a new boutique dedicated to timeless, beautiful, and unique gifts — mostly collected from emerging designers from around the world. Hanna believes in the beauty of simplicity and that objects should be indulgent, functional and affordable.

One very encouraging point Hanna made was when she mentioned how many of her ideas for Sanctuary came from reading decor8. It’s always so exciting to hear from readers and to learn about the projects that you are working on that involve doing what you love. I receive so many emails from readers who have either set up shop, started their own blog, left a job that they hated to pursue their own business… All of these goals take guts to set and achieve but you are all making it happen on a constant basis! I can’t help but feel proud of each one of you and how we come together through blogs to help motivate one another to action.

All of the blogs out there in our great community help to contribute to the progress people are making as they work towards their dreams. And not all these dreams include shop ownership, some write in showing a chair they’ve reupholstered or an art wall they’ve created using prints discovered on their favorite blogs. It makes my day to read emails like this, that’s why I try to share what readers are doing from time to time, such as Hanna’s new shop in Austin. Congratulations Hanna on your gorgeous new store!

(images from sanctuary)

Posted in Shop Tours on July 07, 2008

My Atlanta

My friend and fellow blog pal Becky wants to take us away to her part of the world for a moment to show us around her hood in Atlanta, Georgia. She will return later this summer to blog about design reality television so stay tuned to read more from the Beckster in the near future. Are you to ready to meet her?

Hi, my name is Becky. A small number of you may know me from another blog I write called Hatch. I’d like to thank Holly for inviting me to contribute to decor8 from time to time. It’s a blog I’ve thoroughly enjoyed checking in on every day for a few years now! I used to badger Holly to host discussions after all the design TV shows, and because she will be leaving this summer for Germany (no American trash television over there), she’s going to let me lead future design TV show discussions here on decor8 with my personal observations. I think Top Design starts this summer so I’m looking forward to chatting with you all about the episodes.

First I thought I’d introduce myself by giving you a glimpse into my beloved neighborhood, Virginia-Highland. It is located in the City of Atlanta, and it’s named after the intersection of Virginia Avenue and North Highland Avenue, which is my block. It’s full of charming Arts and Crafts bungalows and Victorian homes, as well as unique retail stores and restaurants. I can walk to go pick up anything I need, and this neighborhood is a perfect example of “old urbanism.” Old urbanism is what we had back at the turn of the century, and is what planners now call “new urbanism” when they emulate it today (see also “Seaside Florida” and “Smart Growth”).

The neighborhood is full of popular restaurants and shops. Unfortunately, it’s become such a popular destination that many of my favorites (I sorely miss Metropolitan Deluxe, 20th Century Antiques and the record store) have been forced out due to skyrocketing rents. I only hope that the Dean and Deluca-ing of Georgetown and the Abercrombie-ing of Harvard Square do not happen here. It’s getting to close to the point where the independents can’t afford to stay and only The Gap can afford to move in.

On the bright side of this extreme gentrification, in the past year or so a few independent home emporiums have moved in, and I’m so glad to have them. Having all this inspiration a skip away makes me feel extremely lucky, and I thought I’d share some of it with you.

On a typical morning, I’ll walk up to the Post Office to drop off eBay packages, stop by The San Francisco coffeehouse for my morning brew, and drool over the windows at Amour and Company shown above. This shop, owned by Jayme Leffler, is full of gorgeous furniture, perfectly curated accessories, and a selection of books I believe another favorite blogger of mine, The Peak of Chic, would have on her shelves. Pieces vary from a large branch sculpture to Jonathan Adler light fixtures, from Corbusier wooden models to a yellow Hollywood Regency desk. Every time I stop in I feel thoroughly inspired and return home determined to give my own home the rich but light feel of the shop.

Down the street we have another new neighbor, Urban Cottage. This shop owned by Jessica Silverstein, has moved from Buckhead Betty territory and taken over a house right in the middle of the Va-Hi intersection. They manufacture all of their own furniture and they will completely customize it for you.

What I love about Urban Cottage is the huge range of items and the way they are arranged in the different rooms of the house, including the bathroom! In a black and white Regency-style bedroom, there is a selection of clothing from soft T’s to a silvery sparkly dress. In another room they showcase local artists, like Carla Kaiser’s pinch pots and David Kallman’s color photography, as well as beaded necklaces from The Akola project (100% of the proceeds go to African women in need). On the lower level, there are intricately carved wood and iron antique Spanish doors available. This is definitely my favorite one-stop shop for all sorts of gifts – I can scoop up a unique gift, have it wrapped, and purchase the perfect letter press card to top it off in about 15 minutes flat.

Another recent addition is an outpost of South of Market. This store will custom upholster all kinds of furniture, stocks an array of beautiful throw pillows and mirrors, and most importantly it is chock full of unique French antiques that are mind-blowing. Unfortunately, most of them would blow my budget as well, but if I were going to pick one eye-popping piece to invest in and surround with my own flea market goodies and IKEA pieces, this is where I would go max out my credit card. The website is extensive, but nothing compares to the experience of visiting the store.

So decor8 readers, if you do happen to hit my ‘hood, all of this shopping is going to make you tired (I haven’t even mentioned the great clothing boutiques like Mitzi and Romano, Moondance, Honeybee’s and Dakota J.’s). It’s also going to make you hungry. Here are some of my favorite eateries, you just have to check out:

Noche – For the best silver margaritas on the block. Don’t have more than two though or you’ll wind up doing something you’ll regret (or not, depending on how cute he is). Definitely do not shop or attempt to try on clothes afterwards! The tapas are delish as well. If you like annoying huge crowds of drunk people in tube tops, stop by on Sunday afternoon for cheap Dos Equis and Sangrias. Wahoo!

Moe’s and Joe’s – An old original Atlanta beer bar (their license is for beer and wine only). Stop by for PBR on tap and a grilled cheese. I also recommend the chili fries and the sliders.

The Highland Tap
– Martinis and steaks done to perfection, in a cozy cellar. Upstairs, Fontaine’s has oysters, hush puppies, an extensive New Orleans-inspired menu and a bunch of pick up artists at the bar.

Murphy’s – Everything from light plates to amazing entrees. The staff KNOW their extensive wine list, and the desserts are to die for. A good place to go when one’s parents are in town and they are picking up the check.

Finally, the heart of the neighborhood, and perhaps the most convenient and eyesore ever, is El Chev, a.k.a the Chevron Station. Last May when out to dinner in Manhattan with the ladies from Dwell Studio, as I was describing my lack of domestic and culinary skills, Ashley from Texas said “Girl, tell me you did not just say you go grocery shopping at the Chevron station…HaHaHa…God, I miss Chevron stations!” What can I say, they stock a few oversized bottles of bad wine, lottery tickets, The New York Times and T.G.I. Friday’s frozen mozzarella sticks and loaded ‘tater skins. What more does any neighborhood need?

Thanks for having me everyone! – Becky

Posted in guest bloggers, Shop Tours, travel on May 30, 2008

NEW! Henry Road Store in LA {and 20% off}

A new Henry Road store! Wow, what GREAT news for Paula Smail, Henry Road, and all of her loyal fans! Paula just opened and will celebrate the grand opening this weekend. How great is this? Not only does it provide a home for her collection but also gives her a chance to showcase her collection of custom one-of-a-kind lampshades, upholstered furniture and to offer an eclectic selection of home and gift wares that she’s currently loving. She sent over some photos for decor8 readers to enjoy and wanted to let us know that she is offering a 20% off promotion on her website (enter coupon code: STORE at checkout) so everyone can join in the celebration whether based in lovely Los Angeles or not.

How fetching is this blue storefront, am I right?

Art shown by Michelle Caplan, lamp by Paula Smail.

The Grand Opening is May 3 and 4 and, “We’re celebrating all weekend with a ‘Mad Tea Party’ catered by our friend Lisa, from Cake Monkey.” Location: 3949 Laurelgrove Ave, Studio City, CA 91604 (South of Ventura, 2 blocks west of Laurel Canyon).

Thanks, Paula for the BIG NEWS. We are so proud to see yet another independent small business making some major progress. Congrats!

(images from henry road)

Posted in Objects, Shop Tours, shopping, travel on May 02, 2008

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


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