In December I got to plan and execute an event of my dreams with Brief Assembly. The creative geniuses behind DC’s latest (and greatest) makers pop up shop, Mallory Shelter Sweetbaum of Mallory Shelter Jewelry and Carolyn Misterek of Matine, trusted me to execute a makers dinner to celebrate the opening, makers and spirit of the Brief Assembly concept. With the space full of incredible, unique jewelry, leather goods, beauty products and more, we staged the space for a gorgeous 30 person dinner.
Our partners were INCREDIBLE! We worked with Something Vintage and Taffy Floral for the tablescape, the food was provided by Sally’s Middle Name and Bidwell, the desserts were provided the one and only Buttercream Bakeshop and the cocktails mixed by True Syrups. And last but not least we had Love to the Core Photography take these amazing images of the space and dinner. It was truly a collaborative dinner event!
I am also happy to report that after closing briefly for the holidays, Brief Assembly reopened with a new sense of life and I wanted to catch up with Mallory and Carolyn about the second edition.
EC: How did you dream up the concept for Brief Assembly?
MS: Carolyn and I were grabbing coffee together and were discussing the lack of interesting retail concepts in the city. It felt like there were a lot of markets and holiday-focused shows, but nothing that was more curated and a bit higher end. We approached Union Market about a weekend-long event around the holidays, but the more we discussed and honed in on our vision we quickly realized it needed to be longer term. Union Market happened to have a space they were renovating that worked out perfectly for our needs.
CM: I think the gap in the market for this kind of concept, along with the interest from our customers, has become clearer and clearer in recent years as we’ve both dipped our toes into brick & mortar pop-ups. Once we allowed ourselves to get creative and think beyond the traditional market or weekend pop-up concept, the whole idea came together very quickly.
EC: Individually, is a pop-up shop something that you always thought you would do?
MS: Yes and no. When I first started my business, I never in a million years thought I would be selling to customers online, let alone in my own retail space. As it evolved and grew, I began seeing the importance of a physical space where people could touch and try on my pieces. At first this was in the form of markets, then wholesale partnerships, then a several month pop-up at Union Market. After the Union Market pop-up, I seriously began considering a long term pop-up space to have a variety of my pieces, as well as other brands I had admired. Jewelry is something that people have an emotional response to, and I find that the response typically comes when my pieces are seen in person. So now being where I am in my business and knowing what I know, a physical space is pretty crucial for me to continue to grow.
CM: I’d say only in recent years as the real estate market in D.C. has really opened up to these kinds of opportunities. I did my first pop-up last summer at Tysons Galleria, which was completely intimidating when I first considered it. Once I sat with the idea for a while, though, I got very excited about what a physical space would allow me to do from an experiential standpoint. It has proven to be just as exciting in execution—I love the dimension a store adds to my brand, which typically exists only in photos online. And I love pairing my products with other designers I think my customers would appreciate.
EC: Do you have a brand that you discovered through this process that you really love?
MS: So many of them! Carolyn and I have both been huge fans of Emerson Fry, and it was such an honor that they agreed to have us carry their line. I have also fallen completely in love with Night Space candles. They’re such an indulgence, and smell amazing.
CM: It’s hard to choose just one, we’ve had such a great response and interest from designers who want to participate. Right now I’m really loving the work of Sara Clark, whose knotted wall hangings we currently carry. They are intricate, yet monochromatic and beautifully simple.
EC: Have your goals shifted for round two?
MS: Definitely. I think our underlying goal is the same - deliver high quality, unique goods to our customers. However in the past month we’ve learned a lot more about how to do that well, and what doesn’t work in a space like ours. We want to make the shopping experience with us as easy as possible, so we’ve revamped the space with that in mind, giving customers a seamless and interesting shopping experience.
CM: Yes! The first time around we were playing a short game. We knew were only in it for four weeks, and while we certainly worked to present the best possible experience, the short-term mindset leads to a lot of short-term solutions. Now that we are in for a longer run, we needed to step back and think about our strategies for everything from bringing in new products to the store design to events, etc.
EC: Anything exciting you can share about reopening; the brands, special events, workshops etc.?
MS: We’ve totally overhauled the space, so that’s definitely exciting! We’re also bringing in about 10 new brands, so i’m thrilled to have more products for our customers.
CM: I’m personally excited to see how the new events calendar unfolds. D.C. is a community rich with workshops, so we’re hoping to think outside the box and offer some unique experiences for our customers.