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Interviews, Shop Tours, Small Business, Travel

Meet Moss {Shop Tour}

February 11, 2008

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.

Meet Moss {Shop Tour}
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!

Meet Moss {Shop Tour}
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.

Meet Moss {Shop Tour}
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.

Meet Moss {Shop Tour}
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.

Meet Moss {Shop Tour}Meet Moss {Shop Tour}Meet Moss {Shop Tour}
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)






Shop Tours, Shopping + Products, Travel

Hudson {Boston}

January 10, 2008

The stylish Hudson is located in the South End neighborhood of Boston, a historic tree-lined section known for it’s brownstone architecture, excellent restaurants, and cobblestone streets. Though it seems many storefronts remain vacant and are due to be renovated, this gorgeous section of Boston has so much charm that you can only guess that within the next few years, finding a space to open a shop will be next to impossible.

Hudson {Boston}
Especially with the help of creative types like owner-designer Jill Goldberg who recently opened Hudson to bring a little west coast style combined with global decor to Boston. With plans to open a second location in nearby Wellesley in April, Goldberg brings a trained eye and a sense of style that is both relaxed and rich in one effortless breathe. Her aesthetic combines ethnic prints with stripes, Madeline Weinrib meets Cape Cod, Shabby Chic, John Robshaw, topped with vintage feed sacks as pillows all in a single shop (Goldberg designs the feed sack pillows herself). Here are a few photos of the store for you to enjoy, but because Jill is like the rest of us and simply must move around furniture constantly, the store always looks different whenever you enter.

Hudson {Boston}Hudson {Boston}Hudson {Boston}

With Hudson in town, the new home decor store Grand opening later this month over in Union Square Somerville, and the goals that the city of Boston has to restore Newbury Street back to it’s more independent roots (more privately owned boutiques/less chain stores), and several storefronts sitting vacant in the South End waiting for a little TLC, if you’re looking to give Boston your own unique retail vision why not consider it now? I’d love to see more design come to this fantastic historical city – and with so many of the properties boasting wood floors, soaring ceilings, great architectural details, etc. I’m willing to bet you’d find your perfect spot just like Jill did at the beautiful Hudson.

(images from hudson boston)






Shop Tours

La Merceria {Toronto}

January 9, 2008

Ready to see some dreams put into action? This inspiring email just arrived so I had to share it, especially powerful for those of you dreaming of the day when you’ll hold a set of keys to a brick and mortar store of your very own. Sandra Rojas-Chinni had visions of starting her own store and turned them into reality with the recent opening of home design store (complete with espresso bar!) La Merceria located in Toronto, Canada.

La Merceria {Toronto}
Sandra had this to say, “Thank you Holly for being such a great source of inspiration. I actually wrote to you last year asking for career advice because I wanted to make a change in my life and your blog has inspired me so much and in many ways it helped me and my husband in creating our own business. We combined his passion for coffee and food with my love and experience in the product and design fields. It’s been a lot of work and sacrifice but seeing our dream come to reality is so rewarding and the response has been incredible. Many of the lines that we carry (such as Simplemente Blanco) I discovered by reading decor8, Thank-you again!”

La Merceria {Toronto}La Merceria {Toronto}La Merceria {Toronto}La Merceria {Toronto}La Merceria {Toronto}La Merceria {Toronto}
How is that for inspiring? A couple going in on a shop together combining their talents to form a shop with beautiful things for the home and yummy treats for the tummy. If La Merceria had a Boston location, I doubt I’d ever leave. All this white space, warm wood tones, and subtle texture really clears the mind of stress and causes lots of creative ideas to take shape. I imagine having coffee here with a good friend, picking up some bath salts and a bar of lavender soap, then heading home for a relaxing soak while listening to a little Bebel Gilberto by candlelight. See what a good home store can do to a girl?

Congratulations Sandra, your shop is beautiful – thank you for the virtual store tour. :) For those of you based in Toronto or planning to visit there soon, La Merceria is located at 506 Adelaide Street west.

(images from la merceria)






Shop Tours, Shopping + Products, Small Business, Travel

Cupcake {Berlin}

December 13, 2007

How sweet it is! I have to introduce you to Cupcake in Berlin, I hope that if you’re ever there you’ll seek it out and support this small business because though it may have nothing to do with shopping for interior products, cupcakes are quite delicious to eat and this shop makes a great resting place while you’re out and about. Plus Cupcake is darling inside and no one likes breaking in well designed places more than me. Okay, you too. :)

Cupcake {Berlin}
And Berlin isn’t America – a cupcake is a hard little delight to find in northern Germany, you just can’t find them dotted around there as you can here. They aren’t in bakeries, or grocery stores, and they don’t have dedicated little cupcake shops all over as some American cities do – until now. That’s what makes this shop in Berlin so very sweet – they’re truly unique as they are Berlin’s first! I asked the owners, American Dawn Nelson and her boyfriend Daniel Baderif (who runs his record label out of the office in the shop) if they could send over some photos for your enjoyment, so here’s a peek into a very tasty place. Cupcake is located in the heart of Friedrichshain, a short stroll away from the last remaining section of the Berlin Wall.

Cupcake {Berlin}
In regards to the design of the shop, Dawn said that they started out with “All these ideas for the decor. first it was vintage 50’s funiture, then streamlined 70’s, and then finally this is what we came up with”. They wanted something minimal, clean and fresh with the focus on the cupcakes, so this is the result. I think it reminds me of a cupcake shop Audrey Hepburn would have rested her tired feet after a day of shopping at Tiffany’s. If Tiffany’s were in Stockholm. It really reminds me of a Swedish bakery for some reason with a touch of classic Hollywood. And the light fixtures are 2 Die 4, aren’t they?

Cupcake {Berlin}Cupcake {Berlin}Cupcake {Berlin}

Cupcake, Krossener Str. 12, Friedrichshain, Berlin

If you’d like to know more about Dawn and her background, click here to read a great interview that I Heart Berlin had with her – it’s in English – and there’s a video as well. It was there that I learned Katie Holmes frequented Cupcake while she was with Tom Cruise in Berlin filming. Too cute.

(images from cupcake)






Shop Tours, Shopping + Products, Travel

RaniPink {Taste of Marrakesh in Germany}

December 12, 2007

For a moment you may have had to glance up at the header to be sure that you’d landed on the right blog. No, this really isn’t Maryam over at My Marrakesh. It’s me, Holly. But given all the Moroccan influences in design, I have to share with you a lovely shop that I found recently with the most beautiful ethnic prints and patterns. Ready for another mini store tour? Come along with me for a taste of Marrakesh in Germany.

RaniPink {Taste of Marrakesh in Germany}
This shop is called RaniPink and it’s located in Hannover where (as most of you know) I just returned after spending two months. Owned by German born Petra Hassan, who grew up in Munich, she married a charming man born in Kuwait with roots in Palestine and now they live and work in Hannover. It is there in north Germany where I had the chance, along with my husband, to meet up in her spacious – the ceilings are maybe 15 ft high – two room store that doubles as her workshop. Petra designs and sews in between customers, creating clothings and interior accessories. She has racks and stacks of jaw dropping textiles that you can select and she’ll custom design almost anything you want.

RaniPink {Taste of Marrakesh in Germany} This is Petra, self portrait, obviously. She definitely doesn’t dress like the typical German which is one of the many reasons why I like her so much, she doesn’t follow the crowd – but follows her heart instead. I love her leg warmers!

RaniPink {Taste of Marrakesh in Germany}
To keep her shop fresh and interesting, Petra paints the walls a new and exciting color a few times per year. When I was there, it was turquoise. Now it’s violet. Inspired by the Moroccan design in a very big way, and I must add long before it was so “mainstream”, her store is like stepping into Marrakesh without having to purchase a plane ticket. When we met with her, we were greeted with a feast for all the senses, beautiful music from North Africa, a warm hug and smile, the scent of spices, and the most delicious Moroccan fresh mint tea I’d ever tasted.

RaniPink {Taste of Marrakesh in Germany}
Petra is a fashion and accessories designer, her work is intricate and beautiful, colorful and full of the passion that seems to run from her heart, through the needle, and into the fabrics she sews together. She loves her work, I mean genuinely loves it, and it shows as you stroll through her shop/atelier. You can feel it as you look around. There’s this very positive energy in the air, it’s great. I left feeling completely motivated to work on some of my own projects, which is always a sure sign that I’d been in good company.

RaniPink {Taste of Marrakesh in Germany}RaniPink {Taste of Marrakesh in Germany} Petra was on her way to Marrakesh for vacation when we met up, but she is back in Hannover now with lots of pretty things collected from her trip – like these supple leather beaded slippers. You have to visit her store if you live in this part of the world – it’s so transporting, colorful, and inviting.

Has Petra always loved ethnic design? Yes, and there’s proof on her workshop table where she keeps hundreds of sequins, spools of thread, tassels, and gorgeous beads, some that have many years of history with her. She pointed to beads that she’s had since childhood – that’s how long she’s be fascinated with faraway places and beautiful things. This lady truly follows her heart and is doing what she loves. Now how inspiring is that?

Petra thank you so much for sending these beautiful images, sharing tea with Thorsten and I, and for being the special lady that you are.

RaniPink Store — Oeltzenstr. 2 — Hannover, Germany — Tel. 0511-3746711

(images from petra hassan)






Shop Tours, Shopping + Products, Travel

Raumformplan {Germany}

December 11, 2007

I hope you’re ready to learn about some clever new products out of Europe and take a little shop tour with me to view them. The store we’ll be visiting together today is called Raumformplan, owned by Architect Janin Pr?pper pictured below, and it is located in Hannover (S?dstadt), Germany. These photos were taken when I visited Janin in her store last month.

Raumformplan {Germany} This is Janin Pr?pper, Dipl. Ing. and shop owner of Raumformplan.

Janin is the most welcoming and sincere lady, very friendly, and I appreciate that she took a lot of time to show me around her space and introduce me to many great product lines. Janin is a very creative woman, she gives her store such a warmth through her arrangements, but she goes above and beyond in more ways than through careful displays. Janin offers her customers affordable design help. She’ll visit the home of her client and taking into consideration their needs and the size of their space, along with their budget, she’ll pull together a few options for them in CAD and present them with practical solutions.

Raumformplan {Germany} Great light fixture in the window, don’t you think? It’s called “Orbit”
and is available in yellow or white. It arrived flat packed so you can arrange
the circles in any fashion, creating an orbit that is uniquely your own.

The best part about her consulting service is that she gives the client options – they can either purchase through her or on their own – she’ll suggest products, carpenters, painters, and everything that they need to complete the project. Her service is under 300,- Euro per room, which is very affordable considering the standard rates most designers and architects charge. Janin does this because she is focused on providing exceptional customer service and since Raumformplan is a design store, offering clients affordable help is quite useful to them. I viewed her portfolio and was blown away by her renderings – Janin does exceptional work. So if you live in northern Germany and you need a great Architect, do not hesitate to contact her.

Raumformplan {Germany}I think this metal Raumformplan {Germany}The same company carries the best felt collection, they have seat cushions for Eames chairs in a variety of gorgeous colors (shown above) for only 42,- Euros each. Below you can see more Parkhaus Berlin items made for the kitchen.

Raumformplan {Germany}Raumformplan {Germany} More great hooks with atlers from Pulpo, you can purchase
them for around $20 USD
right here.

In case you haven’t noticed, Raumformplan’s focus is on clean, modern design from mostly European designers, a good amount of them from Germany. She also likes to mix in some vintage pieces to warm up the look. I noticed a lot of metal and felt being used in new and exciting ways, such as felted keyfobs, placemats, and wrapped around candle jars (shown below, Janin makes the candle jar felted wraps herself, they are beautiful).

Raumformplan {Germany}
I just heard the great news that next year, this shop will relocate from S?dstadt over to the Lister Meile area to a larger storefront. This is exciting news, but I do love her current space because she really knew how to use the small space effectively. In the back is where she works on her design projects during times when the shop is quiet.

Raumformplan {Germany}
This shop also showcases art in a revolving gallery within these four walls. An artist is selected and given space throughout the shop to display their work for a period of time, and then new work arrives from another artist. A surprise to me, but I learned that it’s not a common practice yet for shops to also function as mini galleries in Germany, but it’s becoming more and more popular there just as it is here in America.

Raumformplan {Germany} Multiholk? Birdhouses are from a company based in the UK called Wildlife Garden. You can also see a yellow one in front of the shop when you arrive. (Did you notice it in the 2nd image from the top?) The pillows are from a Hannover designer, Annette Meurer.

Raumformplan {Germany}Towels (above) and pillows (below) by S Wert Design of Berlin.
The tea light on the shelf may look familiar to you, it’s by
Ingrid of YippieYeah.

Raumformplan {Germany}
If you’d like to inquire about any of the items you see, you can either visit the online shop (in German only), or you can contact Janin directly (mail AT raumformplan.de) because she speaks perfect English and can assist you in case your German is as bad as mine. It was so nice to be able to visit her store, I hope that you enjoyed this mini tour and some of the fresh new products out of Europe shown here.

Thank you Janin! :)

(images from holly becker for decor8)






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