Ulla Johnson’s first boutique, which opened this spring on a tree lined stretch of New York’s Bleecker Street, introduces her unique and richly layered vision for retail to showcase her women’s clothing and accessories. The shop is a celebration of beauty and optimism, a welcoming and intimate space in the heart of Ulla’s much loved native city. Ulla worked with architect Elizabeth Roberts and interior designer Alexis Brown, to create a soaring expanse hearkening the grand proportions of a 19th century brownstone. Flanked by windows on three sides and framed with gently coved ceilings, the space is enveloped in marble and raw travertine, both of which adorn the facade and an elaborately arched stone pass-through separating the front and back parlors.
What are you famous for? Feminine frocks, intricately embroidered blouses, handknits and crochet.
Where are your designs made? We source all over the world working primarily with artisans in Peru and India but also local plant dyers, Nepalese cashmere spinners, Moroccan weavers, the list keeps growing!
What makes your shop unique? We paid a great deal of attention to making every material selection and decision with utmost care. We wanted to create a truly singular and transportive experience filled with beauty, flowers, and light.
Who are your customers? Travelers, locals, young and old, mothers, daughters, friends, those with an affinity for clothes that make them feel free.
How has the internet impacted your business? It has been incredible in enabling us to reach a much larger audience both at home and abroad.
Ulla Johnson, designer & shop owner.
Who inspires you? My husband, my friends, my staff, strangers on the street, historic eccentrics, nomads, my mother.
What inspires you? Painting.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. was building my brand for almost 20 years.
The hardest lesson learned in starting a business? How to manage our growth with thoughtfulness and care.
What task do you like to delegate? Spreadsheet analytics.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Have a clear and unique vision.
Which famous person would you like to visit your shop? Rihanna & Elizabeth Warren.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? A florist
What is your perfect day off? Montauk at the beach with my family
Can you share some of your favorite shops? Perfumer H in London; Santa Maria Novella in Florence; Sennelier in Paris; Greenlight Bookshop around the corner from my house in Fort Greene.
I wish I could… Add 2-3 hours to the day
On the Future of Retail
“I think creating something very special and singular is the way forward.”
15 Bleecker Street, New York
Store Photography by Dustin Aksland. All photography courtesy of Ulla Johnson