Life:Curated sells men’s and women’s fashions, as well as homegoods and furniture—products with character. Our mission is to provide well-curated, high-quality items at accessible price points in a stylish and friendly atmosphere. We opened our doors in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the fall of 2010 and launched our web store in the fall of 2011. We were also recently voted Best His and Hers Boutique in New York City by Time Out New York Magazine and featured in Design Bureau Magazine for our unique store design by Domestic Construction.
Customers and friends of L:C can get news of upcoming events, special sales and newly arrived collections by friending us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, signing up for our newsletter, and keeping tabs on our blog.
An Interview with the Creative Team Behind Life:Curated:
Where did your store name come from?
RYAN THOMANN: [Laughs.] You have no idea how often we get asked that. The name Life:Curated came about a bit randomly, I guess. We had been stressing about naming the store for a few weeks and had tried on several, when Sarah threw “Life:Curated” out over a mac-n-cheese dinner at Peter’s [a restaurant in Williamsburg]. By dessert we both decided we loved it, and so it stuck.
SARAH MEYER: It’s fitting, we think, because we wanted to build a boutique that provided focused, style-driven fashion and homegoods to make life more beautiful.
What did you do before you opened the store, and what led you to open it?
SM: Well, I worked on the design side of the fashion industry for years—everywhere from Tom Scott to Oscar de la Renta to Mint by Jodi Arnold. I lost my job when the economy went bad, and saw that as an opportunity to open the store I had been dreaming about for a while. Ryan seemed to be the perfect partner, and after a year of planning the rest was history.
RT: Yep, and my background in the graphic arts and art direction. I’ve done everything from creating books to merchandising stores, and I still maintain a full-time job as a Senior Designer at a major publishing house.
How did you two meet?
SM: We met over five years ago in the West Village, at a Mexican restaurant for a mutual friend’s birthday party. Which is weird, actually, because we had gone to the same college in Georgia and frequented the same social circles, but never met until we both moved to New York.
How long have you been open? Do you have any other locations?
SM: Our two-year anniversary is September 2, and we can’t believe it’s almost here—it’s been a whirlwind! So far the Williamsburg store is our only brick-and-mortar location, but we’re online, too [at life-curated.com]! My dad keeps asking when our Five-Store, Ten-Year Plan will be ready. [Laughs.] We’ll see about that.
How the store was concepted, and what was your inspiration?
RT: We really wanted to create a neighborhood store that reflected our own lifestyle—someplace we and our friends would want to shop. So maybe that means we were our own inspiration? [Laughs.] Basically, we wanted to build a boutique that provided focused, style-driven fashion and homegoods to make life more beautiful.
SM: Yeah, we strived to create a tailored store that reflects our own neighborhood and lifestyle. Our signature style is ‘easy with a bit of edge’, and we stock fashion and homegoods that reflect that mantra. We take pride in every detail—from our products to our decor to our branding and beyond—
RT: But we try not to take ourselves too seriously. And we apply that philosophy to all aspects of our business.
How do you find the designers that you include in your seasonal buys?
SM: We find inventory in all sorts of places. Of course we frequent the trade shows, but we’re also lucky to have an extensive network of artistic friends who are always creating and making new friends who create. We get really stoked when we’re able to throw support behind our friends and stock their collections.And it’s not fun to go from store to store and find the same brands and items, so we’ve worked hard to find labels that are not readily available.
RT: The question we constantly ask ourselves is, “Is it Us?”. If we can’t see ourselves or our friends wearing it or putting it in their apartments, then we have to pass.
So that’s how the whole “lifestyle store” thing comes into play?
RT: Yeah, we knew from the very beginning that we wanted our store to be about more than just fashion. Don’t get us wrong, we looove fashion. But we wanted to combine our love of clothing with our love of interiors to present the complete package. We believe in a high-low sort of aesthetic across the board, and we look for the same thing in homegoods as we do in fashion—character.
Describe your store decor. Who designed the space?
SM: We were a little intimidated by the white box that we had leased, and we had hundreds of concepts and details we wanted to use but didn’t know exactly how to put it all together to make sense and be functional. So we called on our good friends Trish Andersen and Maureen Walsh of Domestic Construction [www.domestic-construction.com] to help us shape and develop an amazing space. Just as we wanted to carry different and hard to find clothing labels, we wanted our store to be an interior like no other in the neighborhood.
RT: The store has a moody, masculine vibe with its gray walls and spotlighting, but the pops of color create energy and a bit of playfulness. The space features an intense rope installation—13,000 feet!—that spans the ceiling and forms “walls” to create texture and creatively divide the long, skinny space without taking up floor space or obstructing the visual flow. Domestic Construction mounted display boxes to the wall that showcase our products like temporary works of art. Trish and Maureen created a space that’s fresh with attention to detail, which is exactly what we value about our inventory.
What makes Life:Curated unlike other shops?
RT: Well, like we said, Life:Curated is a complete lifestyle store, which means we have a vested interest in improving the design of your entire life—from what you put on your body to what you put in your home.
SM: We also pride ourselves on being friendly and helpful instead of snobby and judgmental. We try to treat customers like our friends, which means that we’ll give you our honest opinion about how you’re lookin’ in that shirt—
RT: Or we’ll give you the gossip about our friend’s date last night. [Laughs.]
Who are your favorite designers in the store right now?
RT: We love all of our lines equally. But some of our favorites presently include—
RT: —YMC, Creep by Hiroshi Awai, Elizabeth Knight—
SM: —Dolce Vita, Addison, Something Else by Natalie Wood. The list goes on and on.
Is the life of a buyer for a store/gallery like yours as heavenly as it seems?
SM: I wish! Don’t get me wrong—our job is awesome—but it’s not as glamorous as maybe we’d like. We’re a fairly new store, so Ryan and I do everything oursleves. EVERYTHING. Buying, merchandising, the e-commerce site, and on and on. It’s a lot. Luckily, we absolutely love it and we’ve got a great sales staff to support us.
Ryan, describe Sarah in 25 words or less?
RT: Okay, so this is the Lightning Round, then? Ready... go!: Sarah’s awesome. She’s got great taste and is super easy to work with. Plus, she’s business-minded. She’s the sane to my crazy.
Sarah, same thing—Ryan in 25 words or less?
SM: Ryan has an amazing eye for design—the first thing we bonded over. I keep him around because he constantly makes me laugh.
Who’s your dream customer?
SM: I’ll pick a girl—Maggie Gyllenhaal or Agyness Deyn, who are neighborhood regulars and my personal style icons.
RT: Okay, a dude? How about the hypothetical adopted lovechild of Philip Crangi and Paul Rudd. Is that a legitimate answer?
I...guess? Have you gotten feedback from customers on what they like most about the place?
SM: The best thing we ever overheard in our shop was a customer saying they wanted to be friends with our staff. I don’t think we’ve ever been so proud.
Any weird design or business habits or manias?
RT: Our buying process is pretty intense and a little OCD. We photograph all the pieces we’re interested in, price them, and post them up on a board. And then we go through several rounds of elimination —like we’re on a reality TV show—until we’ve whiddled everything down to what you see in the store and on the website.
And in what ways is the store elvoving?
SM: As our store grows, we’re constantly looking for new ways to keep our customer interested and coming back for more. We’re big believers in blogging and social networking—and not just the normal store-related posts, but a whole range of topics from new music we love to dating advice from the staff to highlighting our favorite artists. And though it’s still a bit away, we’re in the planning stages of developing our own product line. With my background in fashion design and Ryan’s background in graphics and print, it may be a collaboration between us or two separate projects.