WHAT WE LOVE: A beautiful botanical haven centered around an antique barn where uncommon goods and seasonal natural elements and handcrafted items blend the outside with the interior. Hort and Pott connects people to nature through bespoke craft, creative workshops and garden lifestyle.
WHERE: In the charming hamlet of Oak Hill in Upstate New York.
WHO: Todd Carr and Carter Harrington
What year was Hort and Pott established? We opened our doors in Spring 2017
Is there a story behind the name Hort & Pott? Hort – short for horticulture, Pott – for pottery. Two ends of a spectrum with room for everything else we create in between. It had a nice emphatic sound and graphic impact which suits the nature of our work and was conceived in a prior pop up shop that Todd had in Maine.
Who designed the shop? Partners Todd Carr and Carter Harrington combing our horticultural and architectural backgrounds into a joint aesthetic merging an organic and geometric approach.
Spring at Hort and Pott
What is Hort & Pott best known for? Our foraged wreaths, botanical pieces, cement leaves and sculpted containers. Our signature items include ‘faux bois’ planters, woven vine pendant lights, cement leaves and our signature seasonal wreaths.
Where do you make and find products for Hort and Pott? We make all of our products in house in our studio space in the shop and find select vintage pieces through markets and sales that we incorporate. We grow and forage plant material for our botanical pieces.
What makes your shop unique? We have developed the shop into a constantly evolving installation and like the seasons, the colors, textures and botanicals change and are reflected in our style and presentation. We design and create all our products ourselves, using foraged and unthought-of of materials that we transform into goods for the home and garden.
Who are your customers? Garden enthusiasts, nature lovers, design hunters, and homemakers. Our customers make a point to come visit us and we feel so lucky to that we get to grow relationships with them and that they feel connected to the work we do. They appreciate discovering uncommon hand crafted goods and understand the value of magic. It’s also a bonus that we have both organic, botanical work as well as takes on modernist hard lined goods so the range can work well in traditional or modern spaces.
Summer at Hort and Pott
How has the internet impacted your business? The internet has been a crucial tool for our business, allowing us to operate remotely, deep in the countryside where we can create with an abundance of material and space and still be able to connect with our customers from all over. We often say that ‘Instagram’ is our umbilical cord to the world at large and we’re grateful for these tools that help empower small businesses.
Carter Harrington & Todd Carr, shopkeepers at Hort and Pott
Who inspires you? Our mentors whom we studied with in gardening and art, music icons that weren’t afraid to push the boundaries, successful entrepreneurs that kept working when the odds were against them, our parents whose love and hard work is beyond inspiring.
What inspires you? The raw elements, thunderstorms, an overgrown building, the infinite change of the seasons, organic architecture, Japanese gardens, Holidays, the lifecycle of a seed to a 12’ towering flower.
Autumn at Hort and Pott
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. Todd: I was working as the senior garden editor for Martha Stewart Living and had previously worked as a garden designer for 10 years prior. I also spent most of my 20’s as a ceramic artist and was always producing pop-up style shops for curious goods. Carter: I was an interior design graduate from Pratt institute and spent my past life working in a variety of design positions including interiors and garden and landed my last position for a company working in high end window displays and custom fabrication.
Why did you open Hort & Pott? We had made an incredulous jump to Upstate NY with little of a plan but a new sense of freedom. Todd had always been merchandising artisan goods in some form or fashion and Carter had always been involved in creating spaces. It was an opportunity for us to live, work and create something bigger than ourselves, together. The catalyst was when a very close friend informed us she had a vacant antique carriage barn; we saw the potential immediately, through all the debris, hap-dashed electrical wiring and dust covered miasma. We knew that the building the shop now inhabits could be transformed into a unique retail space and was the perfect opportunity for us to start the next chapter in our creative careers.
Did you have prior retail experience? Todd had worked in well-respected nurseries and also had created various pop-up ceramic and garden mercantile in NJ, NYC and Maine. Even before that he was creating window displays and styling artisan farm/craft stands as a young artist.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? It’s honestly the technical side of the business that’s most challenging for us as creative types. Figuring out the numbers, shipping logistics, web marketing and so forth. We’d much rather spend all of our time being creative but it’s a true necessity to get that side of business under control. Fortunately it’s a skill that can be learned like anything else and with practice any task can become second nature!
Your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? There is the sense of freedom and autonomy that comes from taking on the responsibility of creating, nurturing and maintaining a shop that makes it feel so important and gives a real sense of purpose to our lifestyle. It’s a collective mirror for the aesthetics and work that both we and our customers love – a growing, living space that embodies the seasons and our own personal moods and tastes. It’s also our way of connecting and communicating with people and is currently our main social outlet. It’s such a joy to connect with others that share our interest and understand the vision – the most humbling aspect is the encouraging praise from the inspiration we bring to others.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Do whatever it is that brings you joy and complete happiness that you can share with customers to bring them the same feeling. It really is about connecting your vision to your customers and telling a story. The details are everything and thinking holistically about the entire concept should inform all your decisions ; that’s what makes your brand. Whatever little things bother, you take care of it, follow your obsessive tendencies through, every detail counts and is part of the bigger picture. Lastly, keep it clean and organized! Dust is inevitable but not part of the bigger story. And whatever you do, create an atmosphere that’s true to your vision, embrace the senses…music lighting, scent and sight – take someone on a journey when they walk through the doors. After all, this isn’t the internet and a shop is a perfect opportunity to create a new , tangible experience.
Winter at Hort and Pott
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? Todd: most likely still a full time garden designer. Carter: an architectural designer.
What is your perfect day off? We would leisurely enjoy coffee on our porch before heading over to The Bartlett House in Ghent for an amazing lunch, check out what’s new at Rural Residence and Henry in Hudson, stop for a beyond delicious drink at The Maker Lounge, head over to Catskill to see our friends who run The Village Common and see what’s popping up in the town, drive up the scenic road to Coxsackie and pick up a bottle of wine for a dinner party at The Reed Street Bottle Shop…. And of course stop at every thrift store along the way.
Can you share five favourite shops? I. U. Tripp, Oak Hill, NY; GaryGraham422 and Kabinett & Kammer, Franklin NY; Charlies, Accord, NY; Waterford Gardens, Saddle River, NJ; Junk Shops & church thrift stores.
Which Instagram accounts are you following at the moment? Martyn Thompson Studio @martynthompsonstudio Jeremy Miranda Paintings @jeremy_miranda_ Atelier Vime @ateliervime Reuben Mark Stewart @reubenmarkstewart Dark Dance Radio @dark_dance_radio
What are your five top social media tips?
1) practice taking clear, thoughtful images, practice on finding the perfect lighting.
2) respond to comments (it is “social media”) and engage your audience.
3) Use hash tags thoughtfully and creativley.
4) seek out other accounts that relate to your business or inspire you daily.
5) stay on brand and true to your vision, start a personal account for family and friends, furry or otherwise.
We wish we could… Travel more to experience new inspirational shops & spaces and tour more private magical gardens.
ON THE FUTURE OF RETAIL
“This is a really interesting time and there is a visible shift in retail. At first, the thoughts of opening a shop in a quiet hamlet might have seemed like a wrong choice, but we’ve been delighted by the number of people who have chosen to take time out of their schedule to make the trip. As many others might have already said there is a growing desire for experience and a sense of place. To walk through the doors and experience a shop environment can really connect people with the products that they invite into their lives and ultimately provide a more meaningful relationship to what they cherish. It’s one thing to be able to order commodities cheaply and easy from big box retailers online, its another story when it comes to seeking out treasures and connecting with products and the people who make/purvey them in brick and mortar shops.”
7829 NY-81, Oak Hill, New York