Artist Mary MacGill recently opened her first shop in Germantown, New York. The space is part gallery part concept store creating the perfect setting to showcase her namesake jewelry line, alongside a beautiful selection of clothing, books, tea and home goods.
Who designed the shop? I did, with plenty of help from friends and family. My boyfriend is an exceptional carpenter which didn’t hurt.
Why was name chosen? I just kept my name because our jewelry brand is established under it. We thought carefully about the word “studio”, and think it represents well what we’re doing here.
What are your best selling items? In jewelry, we are known for our gold wire cuff bracelets with semi-precious stones and Tahitian pearls. In the store, we have these luxurious sweaters from Demy Lee for fall that are hard to resist. People are also really attracted to furniture designer Michael Moran’s carved wooden sculptures of tools.
Where do you make your jewelry and source other products? We design and make all of our jewelry here in the back of the store with the exception of a few pieces that are produced by hand in NYC. The art is a mix of local artists and those I have admired over the years. All of our books are from the German publisher Gerhard Steidl.
What makes your shop unique? You can’t quite pin it down, which makes you want to stay a little longer…
Who are your customers? Down-to-earth, design conscious, and inquisitive people.
How has the internet impacted your business? Design-wise, having a website constantly challenges me to keep things fresh and exciting for our customers. The only way to maintain a loyal following online is to keep the conversation rolling, create new designs, and invite some participation in the process – otherwise, they can easily click away. From a financial perspective it has allowed us to open up this store, as a good portion of our jewelry sales are made online.
Who inspires you? My mother and father, my brother and his wife, Alexander Calder and Peggy Guggenheim, my mentor Kazuko Oshima.
What inspires you? Sunlight, the ocean, new stones, art, music, and unconditional love from my boyfriend and puppies.
What motivated you to open a shop? Discovering Ted Muehling’s store and workshop in TriBeCa when I was a teenager – I never stopped dreaming about it and wondering what my version of that concept might look like.
Did you have prior retail experience? My first job when I was 13 was at a lovely shop on Block Island, RI called the Glass Onion. I worked there every summer folding kurtis and selling books until I was 20.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. freelanced for a set designer on various fashion shoots and Lady Gaga music videos, crafted holiday decorations for Martha Stewart Living, worked for David Yurman on their one-of-a-kind pieces.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? You can’t control everything.
What task do you like to delegate? Packaging to my genius employee, Angel… and accounting.
The best lesson you have learned opening a shop? You can’t control everything.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Ask everyone you know for help – designing, building, painting they’ll most likely lend a hand, and it’s important to have a support system (and multiple venting outlets!)
Which famous person would you like to visit your shop? Greta Gerwig – she seems like a lot of fun.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would..? own a B&B on a remote island.
What is your perfect day off? Sleep in, go for a hike with my dogs that involves a cold swimming hole, stop by Suarez Brewery for a beer, grab groceries from a farm stand, cook dinner for friends and sit by the fire pit.
Do you have five favorite shops: I make a pilgrimage to Desert Vintage in Tucson, Arizona every year during the Tucson Gem Show for vintage dresses, denim and jackets; Ted Muehling in NYC is forever an inspiration, Dries Van Noten in Paris is hands down the most beautiful store I have ever stepped into; Ariane Prewitt of AP Shop in Lakeside, Michigan has an impeccable eye for womenswear; and Chariots on Fire in Venice, LA has a perfectly eclectic mix of Makoto Kagoshima cermics and jewelry.
I wish I could… have more daylight.
On the Future of Retail
“It’s such an interesting time to open a store – Marcus Wainright of Rag & Bone explained it to me perfectly – it’s your opportunity to actualize your brand, to show your customer your world, and it better be GREAT. While I think it’s equally important in this day and age to figure out a way to translate that online, nothing will ever replace the experience of touching and feeling and seeing wares in a physical space. Galleries have tried to sell artwork online for years now and I really don’t think anyone has been successful on a large scale – artwork and human craft deserves visitation.”
212 Main Street, Germantown
Main Photograph & Portrait of Mary MacGill by Read McKendree