Hi lovelies! Do I ever have a treat for you all today! Photographer Abby Powell Thompson (one of my most favorite photographers ever) has teamed up with her friend Caroline of Paloma’s Nest to create a special behind the scenes sneak peek for us today of the grand opening of Caroline’s first brick and mortar shop: Paloma’s Nest Boutique! Get ready to meander on a virtual tour through her gorgeous shop, and take in the beauty of the handcrafted wares with Abby and Caroline as your guides. And of course if you’re in the Austin, Texas area (lucky ducks), by all means stop in for the grand opening tomorrow and the celebratory party on Wednesday (details found at the bottom of this post). Take it away Abby…
Hello out there! I am Abby Powell Thompson, the blogger and photographer behind Abby Try Again. I recently relocated from Portland, Oregon to Austin, Texas and was so happy to find a bright and booming hand made scene here. This past winter I curated a local pop up shop and met the lovely Caroline Colom Vasquez, creator and artist behind Paloma’s Nest.
Above: the shop’s beautiful wooden sign made by Caroline’s husband, Jose and a Forever Yours Ring Bearer Bowl.
Since 2007, Paloma’s Nest has been a leader in the online handmade world; known best for their conception of the Original Ring Bearer Bowls. In the years since, Paloma’s Nest has become dedicated to offering the finest in hand crafted, modern heirlooms. The brand has expanded to include tiles, ornaments, frames, cuff links and so much more. What was once a one woman show has now grown to include Caroline’s husband, Jose and a small team of local artisans. This week the very first Paloma’s Nest boutique will open its doors here in Austin, and I wanted to give you readers an exclusive sneak peek into the shop! Caroline also graciously agreed to share a little more about herself, her business and her creations in a little q & a. I hope you all enjoy it!
Above: bowls drying in the adjacent studio and a display in the shop showing a large selection different bowl and ceramic designs.
Abby: When did you first start studying ceramics?
Caroline: I first became interested in college, in Ceramics 101- when I realized my love of creating three dimensional objects, both functional and decorative/sculptural. I went to art school intending to study photography or graphic design, and my true love in the arts is figurative painting. But, when I learned what I could do with clay, everything changed. From that moment on, I dreamed of creating a product line and an entire brand of home goods – not just in clay, but in other materials as well. I learned and honed my skills with that dream in mind, trying to pick up as much as I could along the way about branding, marketing, and business.
Was 2007 the first year you started producing or the first year you started selling under the Paloma’s Nest name (or both)?
I had sold my wares for several years before that under my own name, primarily wholesale to small shops. It was a tough way to do business, and I had nearly walked away from it altogether when our daughter was born. Then in 2007 I began selling on Etsy with the username of “palomasnest”- simply as a way to clear out pieces from my studio. Little did I know, things took off. Suddenly the brand I had always envisioned took shape. Funny, the name and the brand was what the work had been missing all along.
above: an example of the brand’s simple, beautiful packaging, some hand made wooden letters and hand stamped ribbon perfect for wrapping gifts.
When did you first start dreaming about owning your own brick and mortar shop?
Throughout high school in Mystic, Connecticut, I worked in a wonderful shop/gallery that sold American Handcraft, called Whyevernot (visit them if you are ever in Mystic – it’s a wonderful place!) There I really learned the ins and outs of retail, especially on a boutique scale. And I loved that the shop was giving artists a way to make a living from their work.
I guess I’ve always just had an entrepreneurial way about me since I was young, and I knew I would end up being my own boss, and that in some way my career would be in the arts. Back then, I never would have imagined that I would begin a business by selling my work online – in fact, I had written several business plans in college that were based on opening a brick & mortar shop someday.
It was just late last year that opening a brick & mortar shop for our collection seemed like the next natural step for us.
Can you share with us a bit about how you made this a reality?
As we all know, everything that is anything takes a lot of hard work, and my husband and I are most definitely devoted to our work. We had long term goals of opening an Austin Flagship Store in the next 2-3 years. But the timing of the shop opening did come with a stroke of luck and happenstance. We simply were outgrowing our former studio space, and in looking for a larger space to move into, our landlords presented us with the opportunity to move into a spot a few doors down. In one quick move we suddenly doubled the size of our studio, and gained an adjacent storefront space. Voila. It’s a cozy little “shoppe” but fits our brand really well and we are excited to share it with the public!
Above: Caroline adjusting a ceramic wall hanging in the shop and Jose cleaning the boutique’s blackboard door.
What have been the best things about setting up shop?
My husband Jose is a woodworker and furniture maker (he is responsible for all of the wooden designs and details in our product line). He and I have been designing and building things together since the day we met. (Really!) So, for us, being able to design and build all of the fixtures and furnishings for the shop has really been a treat. It is also so satisfying to be able to create an environment devoted entirely to our brand, where we can control the shopping experience down to every detail – both in the interior design of the space, and in our interactions with our customers.
Above: a Hope Springs Eternal good egg, slip cast from pure white clay and individually hand stamped.
What are your future hopes for the shop and your brand?
Right now we are just so thrilled to finally have a local presence here in Austin. Since we started our company online, many folks don’t realize we are based here; our previous studios were never open to the public. Meeting new friends and inviting people into our space will be so much fun.
Next we are opening a destination boutique in historic Chattanooga, later this year, inside CobblestoneRue portrait studio. We hope to open other locations nationally and internationally over the next few years.
Any tips for other entrepreneurial Moms out there?
Know when to ask for help! Like most “business moms” I struggle to find anything close to a balance between work and family. My advice would be that instead of immediately assuming you need a nanny or childcare when you get overwhelmed or stretched thin, first look for areas of the business that can be delegated to others. Anyone can do basic administrative work, but only YOU can be “Mom.”
Above: ceramic keepsake ornaments on display in the shop.
Their boutique is located at 4402 South Congress Avenue Suite 102, Austin, Texas 78745. They will be open Monday-Friday 10am-4pm and Saturday noon-4pm, as well as by appointment. All local folks are welcome to stop by the grand opening party on June 16, 2011. RSVP and details here.
Thanks so much Caroline for allowing us to look around your new boutique! And thanks Abby for sharing your gorgeous photos and wonderful interview with us all!
All photos ©Abby Powell Thompson