Hi friends! It’s been awhile, but I have a good reason: I bought a store!
It sounds crazy, I know, but there is a method behind what may seem like madness. Allow me to explain.
I have long dreamed of owning a little gift shop & interiors store: a place that feels comfy and inspiring, with lots of things that make you excited when you see them and inspired when you leave. If you know me, you know this.
I never really thought that dream would be a reality. I always imagined this little shop to be on a quaint, tree-lined street in a historic town with a little cafe nearby. It would have flower boxes and I’d ride my bike to work everyday.
Turns out, my dream wasn’t too far from reality.
Last Spring, I had the opportunity to purchase an existing local business in the Garden District neighborhood of Alexandria. Southern Chic was established in 2007 by two friends, Lizette and Shelley. For the past nine years, it has been one of CenLa’s favorite little gift shops, carrying unique, artisan-made wares that celebrate the tradition and culture of life in the South.
Southern Chic was one of my favorite shops in town, and I didn’t want to see it close. I also had this vision in my head of adding a small design studio for Hunt & Gather Home in the shop’s small back room. I figured it was a long shot, but I took a chance, met with the owners, did some soul-searching… and the rest is history. I now own Southern Chic (a small shop on tree-lined Jackson Street in the historic Garden District not too far from a coffee shop and within bike-riding distance from my house) and have set up studio space for Hunt & Gather Home inside the shop.
Let me be the first to say that has been a risky, scary, overwhelming, and deeply satisfying journey for me. For quite a while, I’ve longed to have the flexibility and opportunity to work creatively by and for myself. I work ten times harder and ten times more than I have before, but never once have I been bored or regretted making this decision. Perhaps the most rewarding thing of all has been meeting so many great people – customers, artisans, other small business owners – all who have been so encouraging and kind as I learn the ropes and chart my own course. My family has been so supportive, working right alongside me to make this happen. It’s my hope that through this little business my boys will learn the value of hard work and determination and that they will never give up on their own dreams. I’m thankful for the opportunity to partner with my husband in running the business; he gets the real credit for pushing me towards this opportunity when I was overwhelmed with unknown details and ready to let it go. My mom is floral arranger extraordinaire and works in the shop on Thursdays, giving me the chance to squeeze in some hunting and gathering time. I am glad to have my family along for the ride; it wouldn’t be any fun without them.
So what can you expect now from Southern Chic + Hunt and Gather Home? Expect the same enthusiasm, personal service, and quality products that you received from Shelley and Lizette. I promise to search for local and regional artisans and companies that produce quality items that you’ll be excited to share with others or display in your own home. The addition of Hunt & Gather Home will bring more emphasis on interiors to the shop. I plan to do a lot more hunting and gathering of vintage, one-of-kind pieces that will really make our shop special. And, if you’re in need of a historic preservation specialist or design help, you know where to find me! I’m looking forward to helping people find thoughtful gifts, create inspiring spaces, and save old buildings from the Hunt & Gather Studio inside Southern Chic!