Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stretch Marks and Growing Pains

I often talk about the things I find that I fall in love with. I tell you what it is I love about the item, or company, or whatever, and then I tell you where I found it so you can go find it too. 

It just so happens that I also have three little people who I love very much and would like to share with you today. They changed my body. They changed my life. They permanently altered my perspective. They also permanently altered my living room.  If you are considering 3 kids within 4 years, call me first. 

Opening the store was a BIG change for them. I went from working when I "felt" like it, designing rooms and nurseries, to working more than full time. They went from having a mom who kept their home spotless and meals warm and blankies sewn, to a mom working around the clock to fulfill a dream that had been brewing for years and years. Shockingly, they were not concerned about my dream, and I heard about it. A lot. 

But now, a year and some later, they are settled in, and actually get excited about what I do!  Even the little guy has taken to carrying around a "golden key" that he says is for mommy's store. They are an integral part of what I do - from giving advice on what you do or don't actually need to buy for your nursery, to assuring customers it's okay to design a home that is meant to be lived in.

And if you wander in, you're likely to meet them. Or at least one of them. Or at the very least, evidence. The lesson I have had to learn is that growing pains means you're growing. Isn't that why my mom made me eat my vegetables?

Special thank you to Julie Weaver for the photographs of the boys - just beautiful!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sucker for a Love Story

Who doesn't love a good whirlwind, crazy love story? I think we would all like to think that soulmates really do exist, romance isn't just for movies, and anyone at anytime could meet, get married in like a week, and run off to Mexico to start a bajillion dollar design company.

Did I lose you in Mexico?

Let me explain. Although I personally don't fancy super-cheesy romance, there is something about Billy and Jane Pritchard, founders and owners of Stray Dog Designs, that just warms my heart. Their romance has been described in longer versions of the one-liner that I gave above, but what got me hooked initially was their design sensibility. More importantly, what has kept me slightly stalker-ish is how unbelievably NICE and approachable they are. I am always in their showroom, no matter if I'm in New York or Atlanta, and Billy is always there, talking to everyone. But this last time, he remembered me! I am aware that he quite possibly "remembers" a lot of people, but I am prepared to continue feeling "special" in my mind. I would like to think it helped that I ordered a replica of their very own living room light fixture for the store - you know, the big one!

To read the full romantic version of how the company started, you will have to hear it straight from the horse's mouth here. And not to be left out, Country Living Magazine featured their designs on the cover this month and their story on the inside.

 I love that I get to hang out under a giant version of that shade on the right.

Atlanta Showroom! Who wouldn't want to place an order?

I plan to have one of these in my turquoise dining room. 

Has my daughter's name all over it. 

Did I mention how nice they are? 
All Stray Dog products are handmade by artisans and workers in sustainable jobs. 

Romance turned design company? I think we should all aspire to have a life so rich. 

Have a great day!

Monday, March 28, 2011

From Lord and Taylor to Oh My Lord

Let me start off by saying that I am writing this morning's post from my chair at Bad Hair Day in Rehoboth where my favorite lady Arlene is fixing the madness that overtakes my roots about every four weeks. A grey strand here and there? Oh no, full on silver. Thank you genetics.

Apparently there is a correlation between my roots and my decision making skills. On Friday, Rena, owner of our cute little Downtown Barber Shop, was hosting a psychic for the day. I know. That's a discussion all by itself. Rena is a touch crazy but absolutely hilarious and I very much enjoy having her across the street. Especially when she hosts a psychic at a discount. Who doesn't love a sale?

Rena! In her defense, this photo was taken on Halloween. 

The psychic is amazing! And scary. And must read minds. I won't go into detail other than to say she advised me that I absolutely must take some time for myself and right away. Coincidentally, my favorite college student and Minorbird intern, Alex announces she'll be in town for the week. Perfect! She learns Retail 101 while I take a day for me.


You can't stay on top of what is going on in the universe if you never leave your own store, right? My thoughts exactly.

I very much enjoyed wandering the mall, but I did not find myself needing to purchase anything. Occupational hazard maybe? Doubt it.

I think it may have had something to do with the selection. 

Since the personal shopping isn't go so well, I decide to check out the displays.

 Are they selling the bag or the fireworks? 

So far, not a single shoe has called my name, but all is not lost. Years ago I used to stop at this place called The Sale Barn on Rt. 50 whenever I was headed to DC or Baltimore. It had great vintage finds, especially furniture. I bail on over-commercialism and go for my fail-safe. Vintage!

Seriously? I have ALWAYS wanted smiling chili pepper yard ornaments. 

I am really starting to question the sale on psychics from Friday. What you didn't see because you weren't there and also because shock caused me to forget that I had a camera, was the 8 foot tall metal sculpture of Shrek. Yes, that's the way to round out a day to yourself. With Shrek. 

Today's lesson:  Beware of psychics on sale. Unless you like metal Shrek statues. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Window Shopping

It's that time again. Time to figure out the next window display.

I LOVE doing it, even if it takes me and an army of forced volunteers to pull it off!

I never know what will inspire the next window. It might be an outfit, or a fabric, or even a painting. Sometimes I am inspired by my budget, or lack of budget.

So, here's a sneak peak of what is inspiring the next window. I will keep you updated on the progress!

Pink Peonies, my favorite flower. 

Pretty yellow velvet. Springy AND Soft? Yes please.

A pretty white cake stand can make anything look special!

Spring Jewelry. Coming to a store near you. 

I'm thinking there will be ribbon in the window. 

I am ready to see some of this outside. Or in the window. 

Now that I know where I am going, it's time to figure out how to do it. Hm.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Love What You Love

I am not a frivolous shopper. Nor am I a frivolous buyer for my store. I almost always know what I want and like most everyone else in the universe, I want it now. 

I have been forced to learn patience. 

I am a normal person with a normal budget. I can't just run out and buy new dishes with service for 12 or 16 people on a random Wednesday.

But today, I SO wanted to. Enter today's dish obsession:

Not too modernly square or too traditionally round, just perfectly fresh and classic. Love them. Plan to stalk them. If you would like to stalk them too, head to Macy's. Fast. 

Apparently, a dish isn't the only thing I like with this shape. Enter exhibit two: 

LAFCO New York's Little Luxuries. Yes, I bought these for the store and I'll tell you why. The tin container, for one. I love how it feels and I love that it's grey - a little vintage but painted so it feels modern. And there's that funny shape again!  Love that. But best of all, and I really mean it, is the tiny box of wooden matches that fit perfectly snug in the lid of the candle!! I also have a slight obsession with match boxes but we'll save that for another day. I just love how sweet they look and how great they smell. But those matches just put me over the edge. 

So, where did I originally fall in love with oddly shaped things? Who knows. I can tell you I had a very interesting experience at the New York International Gift show two summers ago. On Mackenzie Childs Boat. Yes, on a boat. That the famous designer lives on. 

To keep it short, let's just say it involved an overwhelmingly hot summer day in NYC, unrelenting anticipation of meeting such a famous designer, boat fuel, no air conditioning, a pushy and slightly crazy sales lady, a bout of extreme nausea, clam chowder, a note baked into a farewell cupcake, and yes, Mackenzie Childs really does have rainbow hair. This is what I came away with. 

I know it doesn't jump right out, but that funny shape is in here too! I have come to adore this mirror. Everyone asks about it and I have this fantastically crazy adventure to tell when they do. 

So, today's lesson is about loving what you love and going with it. Don't worry if it doesn't seem to fit with your definition of your style. If you love it, really love it, it will work. I promise. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Watercolor Journaling

One day last week, the lovely Rosemary Connelly came into the store and asked if I would mind hosting her Watercolor Journaling class on Sunday morning. Sunday morning you ask? Oh boy. For Rosemary, I'll do Sunday morning. I had no real idea what I was getting myself into, but I like her so much I couldn't say no. 

A little back story on Rosemary is that she is one of my favorite local artists here in Milford and the only artist from whom I have ever bought an original painting (two actually).

 My dear friend Tricia was the inspiration for, and the recipient of, the original Sweet Pea (which has since turned into a collection) and for myself, I have come to deeply covet Rosemary's recent painting Persimmon on Blue. LOVE that painting. 

Anyway, back to Sunday. A lovely group of artists and artist-y ladies arrive ready for inspiration! I hope the store has some of that. First a lesson on lines, with a cute little cupcake that I picked out in Atlanta, then they are off exploring the store for something to paint! I sat quietly, attempted to write the last blog post, and took pictures as best I could for someone who has no idea how to take pictures. 

I was expecting lots of pretty little paintings but I was not expecting how rejuvenating the experience would be - and I wasn't even doing anything! The quiet peacefulness, watching the view from ten different sets of eyes come to life in their journals, was nothing short of amazing.  I would do it again in a second, even if Rosemary didn't ask so sweetly. 

I hope you enjoy the newly inspired view of the store as much as I do!

First things first. The lesson.

The Subject. Cute Little Cupcake.

How Sweet!

Instructing or Inspiring? Yes.

These ladies are serious. 

She just looks like an art student. 

I never knew that chandelier could be so beautiful. 
And it was already a chandelier. 

Can I buy a journal page? Please?

Look familiar? 
She journaled (in Greek, of course) that she was imagining the apothecary jars full of candy!

Bells and Aprons, part I

Bells and Aprons, Part II 
Completely the same and completely different. 

Beauty in an everyday item like soap? Yes.

Again, available for purchase?

The sharing at the end of class was the best part. 
To hear each artist's thoughts and perspective was so much fun! 

Rosemary, I can't thank you enough for allowing me the opportunity to participate in such an enriching and rewarding morning. The paintings turned out so beautiful and the stories and thoughts behind each one changed the way I see the products I sell. I never thought about what they might mean to someone. 

And if the photos here were not enough, feel free to check out a more comprehensive slide show of the morning. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Grand Opening

Okay, so the store has been open for five months now - can you believe it? I can't. I figured it was high time I do an official grand opening so it can be, you know, official.

About two months ago I got wind that Downtown Milford was planning a Pub Crawl for St. Patty's Day. I was so excited that I interrupted our board meeting to ask for more details! After thinking about it for like a minute I thought it might be fun to do my grand opening the same day as the pub crawl. So, arrangements made, food ordered, radio station booked - we're set! Never mind that it might be a horrible idea. People stumbling in just to drink, not sure that they have even entered a store, or worse, already drunk, spilling on the merchandise. My only visitors could be freshly 21, no job and living at home, certainly not a customer looking to order furniture. And honestly, is a pub crawl really a retail event?

 Too late. Already booked. Now what?

As usual, I find myself worrying about the details about two days before I have to pull this whole grand opening thing off. In typical me fashion, it all worked out, but not without lots of last minute help from friends and family (thank you!!!). All in all, my worries instantly vanished. It was fantastic! People were in a great mood, eating and drinking and shopping. Petch from Eagle 97.7 kept it lively, not to mention the green shirts that were everywhere (thank you Pub Crawl).

Everyone will be able to see the "official" grand opening photos in the paper, but I think the "behind the scenes" shots are far more fun. Enjoy!

The official shot? Maybe. We'll have to see what they decide to print...

Please take note of all facial expressions. This is how a ribbon cutting really goes down. 

I can understand how much fun a giant pair of scissors might be.

Local Leprechaun enjoying some the food and our lovely Sara getting "checked off" for the Pub Crawl.

A great time was had by all. Many many thanks to Fenwick Wine Cellars and our very own Abbott's Grill for the fantastic food! Sales were great and we had a good time doing it!

And now, it's official. Minorbird is open.