Shop Tour: Treehouse, Brooklyn, NYcomments (0) June 20th, 2008
Treehouse is a cute little sun-filled boutique in Brooklyn stocked to the brim with indie fashion, handmade accessories and vintage finds. I am lucky enough to live right down the street so I headed over there on a Friday afternoon to chat with Siri, one of the owners.
Kayte: When did you know you wanted to open a shop and when did you realize that you could make it a reality?
Siri: I think I’ve always wanted a shop. My whole life I’ve befriended shop owners and spent a lot of time in stores; I guess you could say I was gleaning knowledge from them all these years in preparation for my own shop. Rebecca (Treehouse’s other owner) and I met when we were both part of a fashion incubator store for independent designers. We learned all the aspects of running our own store; it was a little like a reality show for shop owners and we definitely learned a lot of what we needed to know while we were there.
K: How did you decide on the location? How did you decide what you wanted to sell?
S: Well, we both live in the neighborhood. One day we were walking by this place and saw a “for rent” sign so we took it! This neighborhood is so full of artists and designers, it’s a really creative place, so it seemed like a natural place to have a shop.
We always knew we wanted to carry the work of independent designers as well as our own work. Like I said, there are so many creative people here (lots of them friends!) and we wanted to be able to support them. When we started, we carried a lot of our friend's work plus our own designs and now we have grown to about 40 designers. Everything we carry is one of a kind or a limited edition. We really like all our goods to be special.
The other nice thing about living near where we work is that we are part of the community here. We wanted to do other things besides just selling so we have craft classes, cocktail parties and fun events like that.
K: This would be a good time to ask what your advice is to people who want to start selling in a store. Any tips?
S: I would say, research the store and make sure it’s a good fit for your products. Take great pictures, write up your wholesale and retail prices and have a great story or a great angle about your goods. Email the shop first, don’t just show up at a store unannounced, especially at a busy time. If you don’t hear back from them after a couple of weeks, try one more time. If you still don’t hear from them, move on!
K:What about your advice for people who want to open their own store?
S: Make sure you have a good plan before you start anything. Know what you want to sell, who you want your market to be and find the best neighborhood for that market. Look into small business loans and make sure that you have enough money to survive without making a profit for the first year. Also it helps to have a partner that compliments you and someone you can bounce ideas off of. Rebecca and I are very different but that works in our favor. Every day is different and challenging so you need to be flexible and willing to get your hands dirty.
K: Speaking of which, I have seen pictures of you guys pulling up the floor when you first got the place. What did this place look like when you started?
S: Oh, the floor was old torn-up linoleum, the ceiling was lined with fluorescent lights, it was pretty dismal. We had some friends help but it was mostly Rebecca and I working side by side for months. It actually was nice though: it was very meditative to spend so much time creating our new space and by the time it opened we had really spent so much time thinking and brainstorming and we were really ready to be open.
K: Anything coming up on the horizon?
S: Well, we are always getting new things in every day and we continue to grow and find new designers. Another exciting thing is that Treehouse is celebrating its 2-year anniversary on July 17th so we will definitely be having a big party for that. Everyone is invited!
Thanks so much Siri for your time and insights!
If you live nearby or plan on visiting Brooklyn sometime soon, Treehouse is located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn off the Graham stop of the L train.
You can also visit them at their Etsy shop.