we thought about a storefront….
My sister Liz and I, and her vintage and repurposed furniture business called The Next Hundred Years, were considering the idea of opening a storefront concept in Amherst, MA. We met with the owner of a space that had been empty for many years, I had the business model worked out, and we had several interested vendors ready to look at the space. But the vibe was all wrong and the deal went south – pretty quickly. Our sense was that it was clearly not the right environment for the type of business we wanted to have. But hey – things happen for a reason and we’re optimistic we will find a more suitable space with a supportive landlord and community of enlightened individuals who see the value in having a creative group of hard-working people as part of their retail environment.
We were and still are thinking about a collective environment. I love the idea of a collective for several reasons:
- It gives makers, artists, creatives, and collectors a space to show and sell their wares.
- The shared cost and knowledgeable management gives those (mentioned above) an inexpensive way to have, grow or start a small business.
- It brings creative, inspiring groups of people together to form a dynamic shopping experience.
As the search continues, I’ll keep you posted. So for now here’s a small sampling of some items we had intended to put in the (now non-existent) store. (I’ll post a full page of items in the next week or two…)
Without going into too much back story, I want to give credit where credit is due. There’s a lot to go around but I’ll keep it brief and kind of simple.
My experience with retail developed during a working relationship with an architect/urban planner/developer who created a shopping destination area in an urban village on the west coast. My planner friend designed and developed a street that consisted of a collection of unique stores, businesses and restaurants, surrounded by housing and artists lofts. There was a synergy that made the area self-sustaining, approachable and very desirable. This relationship taught me a lot about not only what a successful and creative business needs, but also where a successful and creative business should be located.
As a working artist (painter), teacher (art) and mother of a teenage son I was often pulled in many directions – mastering the skill of multi-tasking and making fast, often last minute, economical decisions. I consider this early training for a business owner. But my my earliest design experience started as the daughter of a chemist who worked for a textile firm in New York City. Our dad would bring home sheets and towels that looked a lot like this:
These were some of the most influential memories of my childhood – as they relate to design.
When I moved to Providence, RI to open a store, I had my dad and his work in the textile industry in mind – but I also had in mind the idea of working with local talent to create and market unique and locally made products. And that’s exactly what happened.
With the wealth of talented artists coming out of the RISD textile department, I was flooded with inspired artists and inspired by the creative talent at my doorstep.
I worked with artists such as Elyse Allen, Richard Killeany, Emily Mills Reed, Phillip May, who ran the looms at RISD for years, and many others. The most productive and longest collaboration was with Cynthia Treen – an extraordinary and brilliant talent – former RISD student and Martha Stewart expat – Cynthia allowed me to realize the possibilities of creative enterprise with the use of a sewing machine (with a skilled seamstress at the helm) Don’t get me wrong, Cynthia is not JUST a highly skilled seamstress but also an amazing creative. Check out her website at Threadfollower.
Many, many thanks to everybody mentioned here and not mentioned here. You know who you are.