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The Derby Store (Shop Owner: Get Online!)

While in Berlin in November, I spotted several boutiques that had a similar approach as Frau Zimmer and Formenreich – artists coming together that have a similar aesthetic and opening a store. One that stood out is Derby Store, a graphic design shop that features screen-printed tee shirts and accessories from some of Europe’s best graphics designers.

It was at the Derby Store that I met Mike Friedrich, and the designer behind Bloody Bunny, Britta, both artists that design and sell out of Derby Store. Both were excited and pleased to be working together, along with other creative types, and mentioned that in Berlin, this was becoming more and more popular. On one wall, I spotted Mike’s artwork along with his skateboard art, and in the window, was Bloody Bunny’s crochet and textile accessories. Mike was working the desk and Britta stopped in primarily to meet me and show me her wares since we linked up online via Flickr before I visited Berlin. I’ll be back to visit her in September, a trip I’m very excited about because I think she is a lovely person in all ways – she’s authentic, like all the artists I met in Berlin and Hannover. Their passion for what they created gave them the drive to make it work no matter what.

Mike manning the desk at the Derby Store

Both Mike and Britta bubbled over with enthusiasm and the prospects that await them. Through the store, as well as online (Britta has a small etsy store, a blog, and is on flickr and Mike has several websites, including a blog), both are able to make a living doing what they love.

That’s another way to make your storefront work, bring your store online by using the websites that are in place already to offer your products and services. Flickr alone can be an amazing way to connect to others, and of course sites like Etsy and eBay, as well as adding e-commerce to your own website. On days when your store is slow, you can still keep busy by networking online and running your business on the web. You are also able to reach out to a broader customer base.

From my own personal experience as an eBay shop girl for several years while I worked in the corporate world (interestingly enough, it was a business selling home decor), I can’t stress this enough: go international. Often, your best customers live in another country. People want what they can’t find next door, I know I do, so make sure your doors are open to everyone. You can increase your business up to 50% in some cases!

Sharing space and taking your business online, in addition to a storefront, is becoming more and more popular because the dream of sole shop ownership is quickly slipping down the tubes. Passionate business owners are thinking of alternative ways to keep their dreams (and their stores) alive. Many indie shop owners left behind a world where they felt out of control, which is why they elected to go solo and open their own business in the first place. We leave behind fat paychecks and bennies to gain our freedom. But, how much freedom do you have if you’re forced to go in with several others to create your business? I imagine giving up the control you longed to have is a difficult thing to do, so I applaud those who do it, and find success this way.

It almost comes down to survival of the fittest these days, doesn’t it? Are there any decor8 readers that own/rent a storefront, and if so, how hard are you finding it is to survive? Would you consider taking on partners, or leasing spaces in your store to independant artists? What are the challenges you’re faced with on a daily basis?

I’d love to learn more about this so I’m inviting you to comment with your thoughts below with hopes that we can open up a discussion. You can comment by visiting the first part this series by clicking here. It seems that’s where the discussion is going on…

Posted in small business on March 13, 2007

Meet Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams released a new book, Let’s Get Comfortable, packed with practical advice for creating a well-designed home, including loads of layouts so you can flex some muscle and rearrange your furniture to maximize your space. Although I’m not big on their overall decorating aesthetic because I tend to like things a bit more playful and less grown up, I do love a lot of their furniture to mix in my eccletic home. MG + BW furniture is classic and known for its exceptional quality, so most pieces fit in with a myriad of styles.

Except from Chapter 5, Create Comfort To Suit Your Style

To celebrate their new book, you are invited to an evening reception and book signing to meet Gold & Williams, on Thursday, March 15th, from 7-9 p.m. in their Boston showroom located at 142 Berkeley Street. If you’re like to attend, please R.S.V.P. by calling 617.266.0075.

If you cannot make the Thursday event, you can attend their second area event on Saturday, March 17th from 1-3 p.m. in their new Natick showroom on Route 9 at 395 Worcester Street in Natick. Please R.S.V.P. for that event by phone or email at rsvpnatick {at} mgandbw {dot} com or 508.650.1400.

Live outside of Boston? Click here to view other book signing locations.

While we’re on the subject, I’m feeling a Spring purchase coming on. Every March, as far back as I can remember, I get the urge to freshen my space with something new. I’m thinking of a nice table or a real splurge, a new sofa, this year. Hmmm. I love the Baxter and the Dexter, I wish they had one cushion along the bottom vs. two. I cannot handle cushions on the sofa. Throw pillows, yes, but back and bottom cushions, no. I love the tufted back sofas and the single cushion along the bottom – hard to come by – but I absolutely love those.

As for fabric, a grey or beige tweed would be perfect, that way I can freely mix and match pillows and throws to change the mood. I think that when you invest in a piece of furniture, you should keep in mind that your style changes throughout the years. If you invest $2,000- or more in a sofa, you want to ensure that it’s something you can live with for awhile. Plus, you don’t want a pattern that fits a current trend, only to look dated in a year or two. My advice: stick to a solid neutral. You really can’t go wrong.

View all of MG + BW furniture online, including the great chairs and tables shown, all my personal favorites.

(images from mg + bw)

Posted in shopping, travel on March 13, 2007

Saltwater (London)

Ah… Saltwater. Refreshingly chic. Not to drink, but to wear. And what a cute storefront in giddy London. I love the painted brick walls, hardwood floors, and those windows… Sometimes I wonder if my second calling is commercial space design. I’d love to work on a fashion or home store design project someday. Just once. It seems so easy, although I’m certain it’s not because so much has to be taken into consideration that goes far beyond mere styling. Building codes and the fact that it’s a public space alone is a planning nightmare. But still. In fact, forget the whole store idea, I’d take a window display, wouldn’t it be fun to do a window for your favorite store? I wish more retailers would have contests for local students and designers that awarded them with the prize of designing a window. What fun! I digress… Back to Saltwater!

I love mixing and matching, but imagine hosting a party and wearing a dress that matches the tray that matches the pillows that matches the… Oh, nevermind. I love the new fashions out for Spring at Saltwater in England, and the fact that you can really serve up your fashion, on a tray, only adds to the appeal for me. Fun!

(images from saltwater)

Posted in fashion + accessories, shopping, travel on March 13, 2007

Lillibule Ceramics designed by Sylvie Fuller

Lillibule Ceramics is one to watch. Designed by the talented Sylvie Fuller, this limited run, hand screen-printed tableware in white bone china is attracting a lot of press lately. And for good reason. Her current collection features a swirly dragonfly motif and can be called feminine, fun, charming…Yet practical and oh so stylish. Sylvie also offers bespoke ceramics, textile design, and hand-painted wall murals. And for you UK shoppers, free shipping for a limited time, visit her online for details.

Thank you Sylvie for the tip!

(images from sylvie fuller)

Posted in Handmade on March 13, 2007


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