Fall has a way of feeling reflective and today I found myself reading a blog post from my (now very outdated) personal website.
It's the last entry: my big personal announcement of opening Port of Raleigh. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it four years ago and re-reading it today.
Thank you for being a part of this story!
Even though I’ve completely abandoned blogging, I feel like this is still the best place for me to share big news (or at least elaborate on big news shared via Instagram).
It excites and scares me beyond belief to share that I’m opening a brick and mortar store here in Raleigh!!! Excites because it’s always been the goal through past jobs and endeavors (one, two, three) and now it’s actually happening. And scares because I’m taking on a lot as a new business owner and new mama. Emotions aside, the time is now and the time feels right.
The store is called Port of Raleigh and will focus on modern and timeless designs from far and near, for home and lifestyle. For a long time I thought that my first store would be for clothing and accessories but that all changed after experiences from furnishing my first apartment to living overseas. I realized that home is a special place, no matter how permanent or temporary, and it should have special things in it. Take the following quote from William Morris in 1880:
“Believe me, if we want art to begin at home, as it must, we must clear our houses of troublesome superfluities that are forever in our way, conventional comforts that are no real comforts, and do but make work for servants and doctors. If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”
I came across this quote when I moved into my first apartment in downtown Los Angeles. I was trying to match my hard earned pennies with Craigslist and flea market finds in order to furnish my space just right. Morris’s Golden Rule resonated with me and I made sure to apply it to every item I brought home.
One year later Joe asked me to move to London with him. His was making a career move and he wanted me to go with. I was too in love to stay behind and I knew that it would be the beginning of something incredible. It was there when I had my first introduction to design stores and modern/industrial design in general. In L.A., the plentiful (and affordable) mid century modern furnishings made it easy for me to stick to that style almost exclusively but living in London and traveling through Europe blew my mind. For the first time I felt like I was truly discovering and experiencing modern design as function, be it through furniture or simple housewares. I would walk into design and home stores and think “I’ve never seen anything like that before” or “that’s clever/practical/artful/useful/beautiful and I want it in my home/life!”. From modern British to Scandinavian design, I understood Mr. Morris’s quote even more.
After living in London for over one year, we moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for Joe’s work. Again, my mind was blown. This time it was with the more traditional techniques used in Asian designs. From Indonesia to Japan - I loved it all. Prior to this, my points of reference for traditionally handcrafted goods were from family visits to Colombia and work trips to Africa - both places rich in basket weaving and textiles.
Because we were living in temporary apartments, the Golden Rule was ever more important to follow. We didn't want to keep moving stuff around the world while our old stuff sat in storage in Los Angeles. Everything and anything we did allow ourselves to buy and keep throughout moves had to have a function and be aesthetically pleasing to us. Be useful AND beautiful.
Fast forward to moving back to L.A. and then choosing to make Raleigh our permanent home, we were finally in a space that we could furnish and decorate for the long haul. I started thinking about all the great design brands, styles, and products that I’d become familiar with and just as quickly realized that it was going to be tricky to find them in our new city. In speaking with new neighbors and new friends who had also moved to Raleigh from elsewhere, I learned that they shared similar shopping experiences.
I was two months pregnant with Hazel when I passed a storefront in downtown Raleigh, where we live, and spotted a blanket in the window. “That looks nice” I thought, it was Fall and a throw blanket would be perfect for warming up our new living room. I walked inside to ask about it and the shopgirl informed me that it was only for the window display and that it was from Target. I was totally disappointed. Target has some great stuff but if I wanted to buy a blanket from Target, I’d go to Target. Instead, I wanted to support a neighborhood shop with my purchase and have that purchase be a little bit more special. In that moment I knew that I was finally in the right place at the right time to open my store, with even more assurance that it needed to focus on home and lifestyle goods.
I was six months pregnant when I really decided to go for it. I met with a local business development rep and visited what would be my future shop. I received the email with the final lease agreement the day that Hazel was born. Two new babies on May 13, 2015: a Hazel and a Port of Raleigh.
This city is growing. People are moving in, apartments and condos are building up. I want current and new residents to know that they have a place where they can shop local and find that special something for their home, however permanent or temporary it may be. Using the Golden Rule, and through Port of Raleigh, I will share finds from around the world that are design-driven, functional, beautiful, and have an artful and clever approach. Objects of use that elevate your everyday and make a home that much more fun to live, play, and grow in.
It’s been surreal writing this all out, recognizing how everything in my past has brought me to now. I cannot wait to open the doors and officially welcome the next chapter as a new mama, proud wife, and shop owner.