WHAT WE LOVE: Curiosa Cabinet, Amsterdam, brings together a curated collection of vintage, antiques, art, scents, and hand crafted treasures. Unique elements that enhance any interior, define the personality of a space and add that extra touch of unexpected originality and quirkiness.
WHERE: A three-minute walk from Amsterdam’s famous Rijksmuseum.
WHO: Three creative friends, Amanda van Bokhorst a photographer, Germaine Seijger a chemist, and Marlies Boomsma an illustrator.
Why did you chose the name, Curiosa Cabinet? When we started with our pop-up in 2018 we had in mind a store which would be like a treasure chest, a marvelous world that you could enter to see something amazing everywhere you would look. Beautiful colors, out of the ordinary products that invoke conversation and unusual, thoughtful personal gifts. We dabbled with a lot of names to describe that feeling and experience, and we still believe that Curiosa Cabinet really fits the store.
What are Curiosa Cabinet’s most popular items? It is very difficult to choose, but there is no denying that our multicolored glass candle sticks were an instant hit and were sold out almost immediately! The brass items including candle pins by French family brand ‘Boncoeurs’ are also very popular, as is our collection of enameled cloisonné teapots by designer Fabienne Jouvin.
Where do you source and make the products for Curiosa Cabinet? We source from small brands we’ve loved for many years before opening Curiosa Cabinet and we seek out new brands and independent producers at fairs and via Instagram, tips from friends and family. Vintage items we source at antique fairs, (online) auctions, during vacations abroad and occasionally we come by an item via friends or family. Also, notably, we ourselves are artists/producers. Amanda is a photographer and has produced beautiful collectables for the store, Germaine is a chemist working on perfumes, candles and soaps, and Marlies is an illustrator who has produced prints in series, gift cards, paper placemats and also hand-painted vintage ceramics.
Who are Curiosa Cabinet’s customers? We pride ourselves on having a very wide variety of customers, actually a wider variety than we had expected. We thought our customers would be women in our own age group, with an eclectic taste and a keen eye for something special for their home or office space. They do indeed form a significant part of our customer. In addition to them, we are so pleased that we can also count on a growing group of younger women who love our shop. Moreover, we are increasingly welcoming men. For instance, there is a young man that came into the store a couple times this past year to find his girlfriend a thoughtful gift, usually something vintage! Also, we see that men are often quite interested in our natural treasures collection, think of rock crystals, sea urchins and sea stars.
How has the internet impacted your business? We started from the get-go in 2019 with our webshop up and running, because we knew that as a small independent store we could not only rely on our Brick & Mortar boutique. Even though our items and store atmosphere are such a great part of our story we do see that an online presence is crucial for our success. We have always had the ambition to sell internationally, so online is the way to reach customers abroad.
Have you adapted your business to the coronavirus pandemic? Our online part of the business has grown, and we have invested in making our website even more user friendly and more fitting to our store. In addition, we have focused on customers from our home town, Amsterdam, by offering free bike delivery service during the lockdown, scheduled online order pickups, personal gift service delivery, and more. On the renewed website, it will also be possible to arrange a virtual appointment, whereby we will guide you through the store to show and demonstrate items via video. This also allows us to share new products as they arrive.
Germaine Seijger (not pictured), Marlies Boomsma and Amanda van Bokhorst, the Curiosa Cabinet, Amsterdam, shopkeepers
Who inspires you? The list of inspiring people is quite endless really. We have been and still get inspired in so many ways, by our own fathers and mothers, other family members, our childhood or university teachers and also by each other. Of course, we are also inspired by iconic artists and entrepreneurs like Coco Chanel, Anita Roddick, Francine Houben, Frida Kahlo, Kelly Wearstler, David Bowie, Jonathan Adler – just to name a few.
What inspires you? We are inspired by fashion, nature, culture, art and travel. By elegance, nostalgia & curiosity, adventure and – above all – originality.
Before we were shopkeepers… Amanda worked for a clothing designer and as an independent photographer. Germaine worked in publishing and Marlies worked as a programme manager at a foundation that aims to strengthen local governance worldwide.
Did you have prior retail experience? Amanda worked for a large Dutch online department store and the clothing designer mentioned above.
What are your favorite things about owning Curiosa Cabinet? We are in constant development, and it is such a great learning experience too. From constructing an online store to our marketing and financial plans, sourcing the items and brands we love, appealing to our customers and creating products ourselves that fit our brand and combine our styles.
What are your favorite local independent businesses? Stationery Stories, Cake Atelier Amsterdam, Natasja Sadi, AP bloem, Archive Store, Skins, Dols & Co, Tinkerbell Toys.
What are your favorite Instagram Accounts? thetravellingtoddleramsterdam, gubiofficial, thecoolhunter, secretsofahostess, karolinavanloon, eyeswoon, ra_studio_interiors
We wish we could…meet our customers in store again. Source beautiful items in other parts of the world by traveling to those places. Keep Curiosa Cabinet the thriving store we aim for it to be, with many happy costumers giving their homes and lives that little bit of extra curiosity and personal style.
ON THE FUTURE OF RETAIL
“When this pandemic is finally over, we hope and expect the economies to bounce back quite soon to pre-Covid levels. There have been talks here in The Netherlands about the coming of a period similar to the roaring twenties. Let’s hope the trend to prefer to buy at small independent stores will profit from this positive atmosphere!“
Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 147, Amsterdam