Island time: Aaron Stewart hanging out his own shingle
Home & Textiles Today Staff -- Home Textiles Today, August 19, 2013
New York - Designer Aaron Stewart is saying adios to his high-powered New York career and heading to Puerto Rico to open his own home furnishings boutique.
"I've been in New York for 19 years. I'll always love New York. But I'm ready for a little change of pace," Stewart told HTT.
Until earlier this month, Stewart was vp of product design at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, where he also worked earlier in his career. In between, he spent nearly eight years at luxury linens house Sferra, where he was creative director.
"I love all the people I was able to work with there [at MSLO]," he said. "I'm leaving with the full support of Martha, Patsy [Pollock, executive svp of merchandising] and Kevin [Sharkey, decorating and creative director]."
Stewart plans to be in San Juan by the end of the week - a move prompted by a career opportunity for his business partner Fernando Rodriguez, who will also be involved with the store. By mid-October, Aaron Stewart Home will open in a 3,200-square-foot space in the historic Puerta de Tierra building at 301 Ponce de Leon Ave.
"It will be like ABC in the way they mix everything together," he said. "Ninety percent of the product I'm bringing in is not sold in Puerto Rico."
Aaron Stewart Home will offer a broad array of home furnishings products, including bedding, bath, and table linens, glassware and china, decorative accessories, lighting, rugs, picture frames , home fragrances and specialty foods.
"The store will be chic and beautiful, and a bit unexpected," said Stewart. "It's all about color and texture and finely crafted artisanal pieces, where everything will have a lovely story behind it."
Matouk, John Robshaw, and Kim Seybert will anchor home textiles for the store, with tabletop merchandise from Mark Blackwell and designer Kelly Wearstler. Products will also include fashion accessories such as small totes and clutches, and a variety of small, special gifts for both men and women.
"There will be something for everyone. You can walk in the door and leave with a gift or something for yourself for $25," said Stewart. "Some people just want to go shopping, but they don't want to drop $500 on a beautiful bowl."
To immerse the store in the community, Aaron Stewart Home will host exclusive in-store events for area homeowners, tastemakers, and local influencers such as private, themed dinners and gallery nights spotlighting fine art on the walls of the shop.
Asked the most important lesson he's learned from working with stores as a supplier, Stewart was quick to answer: Customer service.
"I've seen so many great stores that have amazing customer service," he said. "I have a great platform to present product. The customers will have the ultimate vote about the product assortment."
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