Life:Curated proprietors Sarah Meyer and Ryan Thomann both grew up in the Midwest and even attended the same college together in Georgia, but didn’t actually meet until they both found themselves living in Brooklyn. After quickly realizing they had similar taste in just about everything, the two decided to open a boutique in Williamsburg, and in 2010 Life:Curated opened on Grand Street, in an area that was decidedly not a shopping district.
Five years in and the neighborhood and its demographic have changed drastically, bringing new challenges as well as some unexpected surprises. We sat down with Sarah and Ryan to discuss their store, philosophy, and journey so far.
MG: You guys started Life:Curated together and as equal partners. What does each of you bring to the table?
Ryan Thomann: We decided to go into business together because we more or less have exactly the same taste and we pretty much agree on everything, which is probably why we work so well together, but we each have a different skill set. She has a fashion design background and I’ve got more of a graphic design, art direction background.
MG: And why did you decide to open a store?
Sarah Meyer: I went to school for fashion design and spent some time working in that industry, but when the economy collapsed the company I was working for was kind of on the outs. Ryan and I had been talking about doing something together for a while, and when everybody got laid off at the company I was working for¬—
RT: It seemed like a sign.
SM: Yeah, it was just like, I’m on unemployment, let’s start planning this out.
MG: One of the things you notice right away is that there’s such a broad range of products here—everything from clothing to dishes to greeting cards. What did you have in mind when you started Life:Curated?
SM: We basically wanted to have everything you’d need for your daily life, hence the name. As far as the curation, we initially wanted to present everything like a museum or a gallery.
RT: Kind of like a conceptual thing.
SM: It was a little too conceptual. We just want a very unique selection; things you can’t find in the neighborhood, or in New York.
MG: So how do you choose which products you bring in?
RT: When we started we thought a lot about our lifestyle and our friends’ lifestyles and what they were going to wear or put in their home or wash their hair with. A lot of it is just our personal taste.
SM: We like things that are really good quality. Nice fabrics, really amazing design details, things that possess a quality that will set them apart. We say products with character, which is kind of our mantra.
MG: You were an early arrival to the neighborhood, right? How long have you been here now?
SM: Five years.
MG: And how have things changed since you opened?
RT: Well the neighborhood has changed drastically. When we opened Grand wasn’t really a retail destination and more and more it’s becoming that way. There’s a lot of bigger companies coming in now too, which changes things. Also, tourism has become a huge part of our business, and we never really expected that.
SM: It’s a little strange seeing so many new faces after having sort of the same cast of characters for so long, but I love it. It’s great.
RT: Yeah, completely unexpected.
MG: Ok, one final question. What’s the most overrated fashion trend going on right now?
RT: Stupid hats really annoy me. Lots of people wearing stupid, stupid hats these days. The last tradeshow we were at there were all of these hats with really wide brims that were just… costume-y. Not into it.
MG: Anything else you’d like to say for yourselves or the store?
RT: Thanks for coming and hanging out!
MG: Thanks for having us.