Since so many of our posts here on design*sponge share with you the everyday-ness of our flower business lives, we thought it only fair to finally share with all of our readers a new big part of our lives in the past few months. You may have noticed a few months ago we started talking about “the shop” in our posts here. After a soft opening in February, we just recently celebrated the “official” grand opening of our brick-and-mortar shop: Prairie Collective .
Although technically Studio Choo consists of two people (Jill and Alethea) everyone knows everything is a bit easier with a little help from our friends, so we took this approach when we first started thinking seriously about opening a store at the end of 2009. As circumstances would have it, we had a few amazingly creative and motivated friends that had the same idea at the same time, and Prairie Collective was born. Running three businesses ( Studio Choo , Magpie & Rye , and the Cloak & Cabinet Society make up our collective) under one roof has endless advantages, both financially, creatively, and emotionally.
When we found the space it needed serious help. It was basically a big white box with a teeny sink and an awesome window. We called in all of our favors from family, friends, and friends-of-friends (and with the help of the guys from shameless design and lots of our own elbow grease) and managed to transform the box into a barn. Lia’s dad, Tom, provided us with some great salvaged pieces including all the amazing lumber that acts as our rafters as well as the large cast-off cast-iron sink, a necessity if you’re working with flowers. The place was covered in dust for a month as we stripped a hundred years’ worth of paint from our window, added drywall and molding, and replaced old fluorescent lighting. Trips to the local salvage yard Urban Ore yielded our lovely counter and grand old double-sided display unit.
The finishing touches included a big red screen door by our artist friend Michael Christiansen (we had to keep out the pesky flies), and our hand-painted signs by Derek at Golden West Sign Arts . Our pride and joy is the recycled windowpane* gilded gold glass sign he made us using a very complicated leafing technique. It casts a golden reflection on the sidewalk in the afternoon.
*As most shop owners know (and we quickly discovered) large glass windows are graffiti magnets. The hanging windowpane let us have the fancy lettering we wanted without having to replace it if the window was damaged with scratches or etching.
Each business has an area of expertise, ours being flowers, naturally, but we don’t pigeonhole ourselves. In addition to running a flower shop out of our little storefront on Divisadero Street, Studio Choo also sells artwork from Jill’s “side project” small stump , Saipua soap, vintage blankets, interesting vases , Swedish clogs , and a variety of other things. Basically if it makes us happy, we want to bring it to the neighborhood and have it in our store. And that’s been one of the best things so far about running a brick-and-mortar shop: the neighborhood. We’ve found an amazing community in our little Lower Haight hood and have had nothing but positive feedback. We look forward to visits from neighbors and regulars, and Lil’ Boy looks forward to visits from his new bestest friend, Buddy.
As for the rest of our collective partners, Magpie & Rye is run by our amazing friend, Annabelle. In addition to selling home goods, she also curates an inspiring collection of jewelry and keeps our case well stocked with pieces that make our customers drool. She also just launched her online shop so if you can’t visit the collective you can still check out her lovely selection. The Cloak & Cabinet Society is run by Lia who, when not working as a full-time librarian and helping us with we like it wild , finds time to bring in vintage curios and odd scientific accessories. The combination of all our styles may seem like strange bedfellows on paper, but somehow all of our unique tastes and sensibilities come together in the store and just mesh. Most people can’t tell that we have three businesses sharing a space. Bernie and Lil’ Boy fit in too.
On the flower side, we’ve been busier than ever. Now we have a space that people can come and meet us to talk about flowers for weddings and events, and it’s great to get to do flowers for walk-ins, too. There’s nothing cuter than a gal popping in the store for help with a bouquet for a dinner party, or a dad and son dropping buy for an arrangement for mom “just because.” This new location has given us some great exposure in the press and a chance to do fun things like teach flower classes (our first class on dahlias is next week!) and have art openings. We like it wild, yes, and we like it ridiculously busy, apparently.
So there it is. Now that you know about Prairie Collective “officially” you must come and visit us. Consider this an open invitation to stop by and say hi. Be sure to let us know you’re a d*s reader because we are delighted and grateful that there are so many people out there in internet-land that like what we’re doing. Come by anytime Wednesday-Saturday, 11am to 6pm, or Sunday, 12pm to 4pm and we’ll show you around.