Monday, August 28, 2017

Shop Tour, rambling, venting and original creativity. Is it possible anymore?

Good day blog friends!

Let's just preface this post with a little comment. It's a wordy one. Apparently today I have a lot to say. If you are a retailer, interested in being one or just curious how a creative brain works it may be a good read. If you are here for the pictures, you may just want to scroll and have fun.

It's been quite some time since I've shared a good old fashion shop tour here on the blog so after our latest redo, I thought it high time to take photos for here as well.

I know many of the people who still read this blog have been following along for years [i think i've been writing this baby for about 8 now] and have watched the evolution of blogs, mine and others and have watched many open shops, followed along on super sized social media channels and love to still get inspiration from the photos and the words.

So many of you have emailed me over the course of the last 3 years asking questions about how to open a store, how much money does it take and where do I start or the where do i buy question [this one unfortunately i won't answer no matter how nicely you ask. i learned and so will you] and I wrote a post about it awhile back but should probably do an amend to it sometime in the future when time allows.

As a "retailer" because thats what I am now, you are always trying to figure out the ebb and flow of new seasons, stay ahead of trends or at least on trend. Not get too far ahead of your audience but still keep the "stuff" you are selling in the interest of your customers.

When it came time to decide what I wanted out of the shop for fall this year, I knew I wanted to try something a bit different but still in keeping with the tones and feel of the upcoming season. My shop also has a specialty in selling pots. Planter pots, so they need to be worked into every area of the store. [Jill keeps saying if we ever need a new name for the shop it will have to be "f**king pots" because we have a literal ton]
I have mentioned before that the shop while not small, is too small to completely redo when the doors are open. I have been fortunate to have a growing business that doesn't see many slow days and my team are a big part of that. Therefore the timing hasn't been right since January to actually rip down and start fresh. After Christmas we really need to do that but spring kind of just got blended in and then the spring pieces kind of blend into summer where birds become shells but there has been no serious "we need to close the doors and start over" until fall came along.
My brain starts working on a new season a minimum of a month prior to its inception. I do mood boards on pinterest, makes lists of products I am looking for, things I want vintage and new and then start scrolling through my current and new wholesalers seeing what I can come up. This plan always gets nicks in it as many wholesalers will be out of stock of things or just cant carry the order our for some reason or another. 

In our area for those that are not local there is not a ton of local decor shops so Homesense is really the exposure many see season to season. I wanted to do something different than the traditional "harvest" for fall but also not frighten people with too much change. I keep my finger on the trigger as much as possible learning whats new and good out there. Macrame for example has been having a hey day in the design world for the last 2 years and has almost started to cool a little already but it has only just started again in our area and many times a day we hear "i can't believe macrame is COMING BACK" when in fact its been back for quite some time already.
 Also this year we wanted to move the refresh up a bit in the timeline so having pumpkins and wheat on the tables and shelves mid-August is pushing it in my brain. You are always functioning a season ahead when owning a store but actually seeing that stuff in the shop a season ahead doesn't make sense to me. People shop in the here and now. In August most people still have summer brain on and are still finishing up projects outside so putting pumpkins on their dining room table may not be happening for awhile yet and I feel some retailers may forget that and get upset that their customers don't want to buy a snowsuit in September or an Easter bunny in February.

Also as a side note to wanting something a little different to traditional harvest and keep the shop "unique" which is a word I find can sometimes be a little overused along with "curated" as essentially every store is curated in some way or another.
I have run across a lot of retail plagiarism as of late. 
It's what I am going to call it and it's pissing me off lately. So my need to do something different was also in part to keep my store moving forward with a little bit of different. WARNING; TIRADE ALERT
Don't get me wrong I derive inspiration from social media, pinterest and blogs just as much as the next person and twist and flip that inspiration into something to call my own.  
When basically my "shop" pops up in my feed from another store that follows me it's just plain aggravating. People [lets be honest here in this instance; women] that scroll through any feed and just plain copy your aesthetic, the products you buy, right down to the way things are stacked and the shelf they stack it on and the hashtags you use.
I also received some alarming information of it happening to others in the floral field this week. Its upsetting to the core when something you work so hard on, sometimes for months just appears elsewhere. To the people with their iPhones on tripods [yes multiple times], notepads and pens, and instagram stalking, we see you. It doesn't go unnoticed.

I guess the gist of this little bit of information is that we are all attempting creativity in our own right so we should all attempt to "do you". You have a unique knack for something and its why people keep doing back. Copying another's work is noticeable and will eventually be too hard to continue if the person you are copying is catching on and flipping the switch on you.

In my effort to do "me", I came up with the idea to really change the way fall can be perceived in the shop and do more of an indian summer. That sweet spot between summer and fall when we aren't quite ready for the cold days and bare trees but the gorgeousness of the changing leaves and warm breeze are still teasing us.
The shop has taken on a very global vibe through the addition of buddhas, african pieces I imported directly from artisans in Africa, as well as a huge influx of different large vintage pieces, of course tons of plants that I working hard at keeping original to the grocery stores and other nurseries around and some staple giftware that can be used year after year.
Neither boho living, eclectic african pieces or traditional fall are a new concept but I am hoping that the blend is the new way to view them TOGETHER.

While the southwest boho style is definitely something that attracts me, it requires a little polishing to suit my home. I love the look of blankets and poufs tossed willy nilly but I need a little bit of structure as well. a little bit of modern and traditional thrown in as well. Like above with a very traditional antique alabaster lamp, a quirky aardvark, and a fibreglass southwest lantern and aztec pillow. None of these things necessarily scream they need to be together but in my minds eye they just share tones and work.

I have found a good selection of new suppliers that we have tried out and so far I have been more than pleased with the items we have received and the response has been wonderful in store.
It's always wonderful to see someone new or a regular that has been with us awhile but not through a shop redo walk in the door and do that Kramer jolt when they first look up at the change. Many products that were new and quirky didn't even make the photo op as they just ran out the door which is amazing. It means people are responding to your ideas and can see living it in their own spaces that make them comfortable.

We have embraced the cactus vibe in the shop. A few photos prior you saw our massive Peruvian cactus that bites if you get too close. We are also loving the mickey mouse cactus opuntia micodasys. Succulents are great and I still love them but if you don't have the right lighting and watering techniques they are just unforgiving so we have decided to take a break in the store for awhile and show people the easier side of agave, haworthias and cactus. Still requiring a lot of light but not nearly as fussy as the echeverias.
My goal is gradually coax those black thumbs green. It can be frustrating to someone just started out when their beloved succulent keeps crapping out on them and they eventually just give up again.

As I said we sell pots. There are even a few empty spots in this photo where things had sold out prior to a new order arriving and being unpacked. Its one of those things, if you always wait for it to be exceptionally perfect you just may never take the photo.

The one thing I find it easier to keep more original in the shop compared with other stores  is the pillow selections as they are a heavy blend of my handmade and careful selections from small to big wholesalers. I had always intended the store to be only my own pillows however that little idea was just not practical in the end. With just me washing, drying, ironing, sewing and cutting etc and the sheer demand for different it became impossible for me to keep up especially with the addition of my daughter 9 months ago. Plus pillows can be their own animal of people expecting and assuming. Expecting that their pillow fabric choices be completed overnight or that the inserts are free in some way to me. It's all the things you learn and grow with. Some days shoulders must bear the brunt of a disgruntled customer that believes everything is made and costs the same as the dollarama. Most days, actually 95% of days this is not the case and Oliver and Rust really does have stupendous customers.

Alright let's just scroll for a few photos.....

because these african baskets are just too awesome to skip.
they look amazing as a single or done up in a group like this. they're light and easy to move around if you change your mind and add a touch of global without screaming i'm exotic and weird. for most people its just a lovely textural basket for their wall or table 

and i think i'll just mention that one of my favourite things that arrived for this new season is these lamps. they aren't your run of the mill table lamps and they aren't for the faint of heart as they are definitely something you will notice wherever you put them but the glow out of these helmet shades and the beautiful gold paint is heart stopping.

So between the rambling, complain-venting, excitement and photos, I hope you enjoyed your tour of my little shop. I love my work, my job, the people I work with, the customers that come in but no place is a pile of roses everyday speaking metaphorically of course as some places are full of roses daily. There are always bumps and bruises along the way and lessons that must be learned. I find that the most creative people that I know have a gas fire burning all the time; you know what I mean it's like a controlled burn and then when an idea sparks its like a full on bonfire. Creativity just keeps the ball rolling and if you are one of those people doing you, keep up the good work and I raise my glass [currently mug] to you and everything you do on a daily basis. If you are just starting out, don't let this scare you but empower you to be aware and have an amazing time sharing yourself and your ideas with your customers. It can be an amazing and rewarding experience if you let it.

Have a great day everyone,


What i'm listening to:
Silver Joy- Damien Jurado
Slow Hands- Niall Horan

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Severe buyers remorse turned gold mine: Leather Club Chairs

Good morning everyone.
A random DIY post thrown in here for good measure. 
So a couple weeks ago I was on the hunt for some vintage leather chairs for the shop. I had an idea in my head but the idea came a little late for ordering new pre-shop redo for late summer [will be sharing that in the next few days]
I came across a pair of leather chairs on Kijiji and after a complicated pickup conversation that included long lulls of "do you still have these?" "when can we come?" the chairs came home with us. 
When we went to pick these guys up and because I was so excited to finally have a firm date for pickup I wasn't on my best critical review of these chairs upon initial inspection.
We loaded them into the truck and the whole way home I kept turning around and looking at them in the box. They were massive number 1 and number 2 so sun roached they barely looked like leather. I was having SEVERE buyers remorse.

A friend was waiting for me for a dinner date at our house when we got home and she had the "you've succumbed to your crazy squirrel brain" look on her face. I knew they did not look good at this point.

So moral of my story here is I found a really great product [well i didn't discover it or anything] but I used it and I needed to share it with all of you.

and if you'll remember, i said i was buying these chairs for the shop but because of their size they wouldn't fit through our limited front door [another oops] so with a lot of moving and shaking and the plan already in place to replace our sofa upstairs these chairs made a home in our basement.

before i get to the "before" photos and actual diy part of this adventure, i thought i'd show you where these ended up and how they turned out. it's always fun to see the pretty first and then get into the dirty details. we scored a great deal on these chairs and in a couple photos you'll see why. 
having said that however, these were EXTREMELY expensive custom made hide chairs when new. the leather sample was still underneath the seat and they are soooo comfortable. stuffed with down and heavy.

and a by product of all this moving furniture is the original kijiji find leather chair that was down here is shoved aside waiting to move upstairs. the furniture shuffle is happening. domino effect right?

Alright let's talk nitty gritty now.
The below is the before. These damn chairs were almost white they were so dried out. I'm pretty sure they were living in a sun room and the people we purchased them from just decided to get new chairs instead of treat them. I knew there must be a solution for these as many people have saddles, boots, chairs, and everything that dries out and needs a little care.
I started researching dried leather treatment and came across this product called Leather Honey on Amazon.

this is what is looks like and when they say honey, they mean honey. it has a thick syrupy consistency and goes on just like you would imagine dumping it onto pancakes.
i bought 1 bottle as it isn't super cheap and i wasn't sure at this point how well it was going to work. it ended up that because these chairs are so large, i got through 1 chair and the ottoman with 1 bottle. i used a clean shop rag and just started massaging it into the leather until everything was covered.

here is the initial difference after 1 coat. like night and day. you can see the ottoman had already started drying and the chair was just finished and wet tacky still.

the shot of the arms was after the first chair completed drying over night with a small oscillating fan running in our garage. the chairs took on an aged library chair look and at that point Trevor started with the "maybe we should keep these" talk. my favourite kind of talk. means i don't have to work too hard to get what i want as i was already thinking this.

fully dry after 1 coat. plus my miniature helper throwing plastic rings out of her playpen.
in the end to get to the chairs at the beginning of this post, i did 1 full coat of all pieces 2 chairs and 1 ottoman and then did a good touch up coat after fully drying on both chairs.
there are still some slightly drier areas on one chair but it also gives them an aged look and as they will never see the sun now in my basement i know it won't get worse.

to wrap up, this is NOT A SPONSORED post but just an informational just in case you too made a slightly poor purchase decision that ended up being a great decision purchase OR you have some leather doing the wonky on you as well. i was fully impressed with the leather honey and even though it is sticky and your hands will be covered in it, it works wonderfully.

Have a great day everyone,


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A little more modern, a little more global

Futzing around.
That's a term right?

Well we've had a lot and I mean a lot of stuff going on around here lately. Life, shop, Emma, family crap, house work you know the drill. Anyways when my brain space is filling up with too much stuff that I can no longer focus I futz around the house doing something that makes me happy and usually it helps me re focus on the other stuff.

Our spare room became the focus of the futz a couple weeks ago. This room is one of my favourites as it is light & airy, and generally right now I am the one that uses it as my plant treatment room and reading room when I get a few minutes so it stays clean, and its a calm space to just be.

I hadn't changed much in here other than linens for the seasons etc so I cleaned off all the tables, inspected the few plants in here [most end up outside for the summer] and thought about the few changes I wanted to make. I have noticed as of late and probably influenced by social media and being a shop owner that my vintage style has been drafting a little bit more modern vintage. Not retro modern but just with little bits of sleeker thrown in rather than everything being vintage. Make sense?

this macrame set hangs outside this bedroom. the upstairs bath is to the right so it hangs in this little corner with the lovely grapevine ivy that i love. this plant is so low maintenance, looks like a million bucks and is ivy without being ivy you know?

for a few of the newer followers. i made the botanical art with pressed leaves from around our property about 4 years ago. the duvet cover was west elm about 6 years ago and is usually in our room but it looks so nice with the fern pillows and kilim pillow i added that it gets to live in here now. i added the white honeycomb looking candle holder that is the perfect size to just sit without needed anything inside or being too small to be a place holder.

my shoe form collection still lives on.
i added a modern flat white pot with snake plant and moved the green plant shelf to the other side of the planting table.
the main plant pots in here are white and modern shaped now to tie in the terra cotta but not look so vintage to the eye

i love those pressed fern pottery vases that a local potter made for the shop. under a cloche it has a little extra presence and doesn't require anything in it

overall it wasn't huge changes. more like a nip here, a removal there, some cleaning and 3 "newer" pieces and the space just feels a bit more refreshed. i shopped my house and moved things around and to me it feels like a new room.

i added a "cactus" euphorbia trigona on the plant stand. cactus is really having a moment right now and could possible be taking down the ever so fussy echeveria succulents. it always makes me laugh looking at cactus right now. i have a rep that deals in many companies for the shop and every year there is a new hit animal. i.e. the owl then the fox. when we asked this year what the animal of the year is,
she just said
the animal this year is cactus...

Well thanks for stopping by my spare room and plant hoarding space and checking out my futzing.

Talk soon,