WHAT WE LOVE: Beautifully styled and photographed antique and stationery items that inspire dreams of the past.
WHO: Calligrapher, paper maker and antiquarian Katie Hyatt.
WHERE: Online and pop-up at Atlanta Westside Market.
What year was Saint Signora established? May 2015.
Why did you choose the name Saint Signora? I have a love affair with all things Italian and I just loved the idea of creating a female saint of heirlooms. One who protects the items passed down through families.
What are Saint Signora’s signature items? Our wax seals, antique smalls, and handmade notebooks from France.
Where do you source products for Saint Signora? When I travel, I source my products all over the world (pre-pandemic of course– will we every travel again??). I cultivate relationships with vendors that I maintain so I when I can’t travel they may continue online. And I’ve also been luckily enough to locate online connections as well that have brought many beautiful pieces into my life. For products I assist in making, I look for high quality materials to finish them out with. For example, my wax seals feature my illustrations and are crafted from brass and rosewood handles. And, when I’m purchasing “new” items for the shop, I look at how they will fit within aesthetic and ethos of my shop. The majority of my antiques are purchased with the assistance of my husband who has an amazing instinct and great eye. We tend to buy what we love and what we know our customers will gravitate towards. Smalls are my favorites to purchase – I love the hunt…the thrill of finding “the piece”.
What makes your Saint Signora unique? We curate timeless pieces and provide new havens for them to reside in. I love furnishing an environment for our clients. It gives them a sense of possibilities, of what they themselves can also achieve with our objects. We are are not yet a brick and mortar, and, in order to accomplish a similar experience as the tangible, I provide imagery that exudes a feeling of the bygone. Above all else, our shop is for everyone who would possess a piece of history.
Who are your customers? Our client tends to lean toward the Wabi Sabi – the perfectly imperfect. They take these small pieces of worn time and use them to help tell a new story within a new home…reflecting a sensibility of the owner. They’re romantics and stewards of the past.
Katie Hyatt, shopkeeper at Saint Signora.
Who inspires you? Painters, designers, architects… ie (David Hicks, Frederic Mechiche, Matisse, Gainsborough, Boldini, Degas, Cy Twombly, Lars Sjöberg).
What inspires you? Cities, museums, architecture, old papers, art…really, whatever I find or forage. A flower while on a walk…back issues of World of Interiors magazine, menus from late night dinners.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. was a calligrapher, papermaker and stationer. I still am, but I just do it more selectively.
Why did you launch Saint Signora? When I began Saint Signora, it was really just a shop for artists and calligraphers. A shop where artisans could purchase my handmade paper and unique tools for plying their trade. Originally, I had a few antiques in the shop that I stowed away from flea markets in Paris. Beautiful little trinkets I found to be unique, but relevant to the other pieces I was selling. The day I put these in my online shop, they sold out. Everything. That moment is when I knew I had something. A curated experience – a place for people to reimagine the old as the new. I went from being a calligrapher to an antiquarian and I felt like I finally found my stopping point in the road, my place.
Did you have prior retail experience? If you count working as a shop assistant in a mall as retail?
Your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? I love making my own hours, deciding my branding, and what pieces go into my shop. It’s very liberating.
Your advice for anyone wanting to start a shop? Do your homework. Some of us get lucky – the pieces fall in our laps, but for the majority, that’s not the case. Research, create a business plan, ask yourself : what are you offering that makes your shop unique?
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? An interiors and travel photographer or an art restorer.
What are your most precious possessions? My stuffed rabbit I was given when I was two, named “Betty Lou”, a gold coin necklace from 614 a.d. my dad left to me when he passed, and my family photographs (can’t pick just one).
Can you share your favorite Instagram Accounts? @hillhousevintage, @alexandrine_ar, @mona_athens, @madamedelamaison, @antoinettepoisson, @simonuptonphotos, @marco_mansi, @tradchap, @ashleyhicks1970, @soanebritain, @marte_marie_forsberg, @houseofbrinson @bygloriagonzalez
I wish I could…travel.
ON THE FUTURE OF RETAIL
The pandemic has definitively changed how customers/clients shop (for obvious reasons)- especially now, as cases continue to rise. I think pre-pandemic many of us were already doing much of our shopping online and now it’s accelerated…all we have to do is look at those receipts hitting our inboxes. E-commerce will be our new normal- we will see a continual growth in online sales as the bigger businesses get bigger and the small shops struggle. As small businesses, we don’t often have the pull and the access to additional capital the big box does. So, I think now more than ever the small shop is going to have to step up to cultivate a relationship with its customer… to assist in being more discerning and fastidious shoppers.