Profile: Stephanie Agne of Golden & Pine
What brought you back to Kansas City?
When my husband and I moved away, we thought we were gone for good. We wanted to live near an ocean or mountains as we both love to be outside. But after moving around for 5 years and having our first child, we felt the pull of KC. I also was thinking about starting a shop and knew that a lot of the ethical and handmade brands I was interested in carrying were not stocked here in KC, so was confident I could bring something to my hometown that was different than what was already being done.
Tell me about your background in design.
I don't actually have a traditional education in design :). I studied Nutrition Science and worked as a Registered Dietitian for 10 years. During that time though, my all-consuming hobby was home and design. I devoured design magazines, watched HGTV, and read design blogs daily. As a 20-something, I sewed my own curtains, attempted (poorly!) to reupholster furniture and painted and rearranged every place I lived multiple times. So when I got burned out on nutrition work, my husband encouraged me to take some time off and do something "fun" that interested me. I lucked out with a job in a newly opened beautiful boutique in Portland, ME where we lived at the time. I fell in LOVE with boutique retail. I began to train my eyes to look for potential vendors everywhere and started collecting my own list way back then about brands I'd like to carry. I saw a close customer relationship that was not present when I had worked in big chain retail as a teenager and loved the building of a community that happens in a locally owned shop. I also had a blast rearranging and merchandising the shop- it's so much easier when everything is pretty!
How did the ethically sourced goods concept behind G&P come into the picture?
So when it was time to start stocking Golden & Pine, I couldn't imagine carrying brands or products that were not connected back to a maker. I suppose some of that comes from being a dietitian, and preaching local foods and reading labels for so long. It just felt right to be able to provide that same sort of back story for everything you bring into your home. I also have found in my own world if I pay a bit more for something special and know who made it, I'm much more likely to keep it and treasure it for a long time. We hope that our customers have that same experience...buying less but buying better benefits artists, makers, and provides less waste.
Tell me about a few of your favorite brands that you carry.
Picking a favorite brand is tough! I love them all or they wouldn't be here! But I can speak to what I've brought into my own home and which brands are most closely aligned with my personal aesthetic. I adore the clean and simple lines of our largest wood furniture line, Ethnicraft. They're a Belgian company that uses all FSC certified wood and makes modern solid wood furniture. I have a low coffee table in my living room and it holds up well to actual use in addition to being natural and good looking. I also adore Sarah Veak, a local KC ceramicist. She makes speckled pottery that has some color- but not too much- and I find myself slowly filling all the rooms in my house with her pieces. I also burn Tatine candles all the time at home! They have an earthy undertone to even normally floral scents and they fill up the house nicely. I'm not mentioning our pillows- our best sellers- because it's too hard to pick just one! Many of them are on constant rotation at home :)
What's the process like buying for the store?
Buying for the store is the most FUN part! I visit 2-3 trade shows per year and try to seek out ones that feature more handmade makers and brands. I also do find a ton via blogs, magazines, and social media. Sometimes clicking, clicking, clicking lands you on something perfect for the shop.
Where do you gather inspiration for the vibe and feel of G&P's brand and products?
I gather a ton of inspiration from Australia and California (if that is not obvious). I adore an indoor/outdoor lifestyle and love having that bright, clean aesthetic even in Midwest with our winters!
How do you like Brookside as G&P's home?
I LOVE Brookside. When I was young, single and living on the Plaza, I always ran up into Brookside neighborhoods and dreamed of living here. The homes are charming and unique, and I still love the feel of the neighborhood here. My family and I actually tried to live on the Kansas side when we first moved home, but just felt the pull of Brookside and renovated what will hopefully be a long term home for us over here. I also love that Brookside is one of the few KC communities where it's possible to walk to the store, the coffee shop or of course Golden & Pine :). Looking forward, though, we knew Golden & Pine needed to grow, and we have some exciting plans for a move this fall!
When we started to feel a bit tight in our current space, we did some looking around and loved what we found in the Prairie Village Shops. It's also a really walkable community and we love that in addition to other great shops, it has restaurants, grocery, post office and other places people stop on a weekly basis. We are excited to be a part of a center and be surrounded by other long standing KC businesses. We also love being able to grow our offerings into furniture and a few other fun categories, since it is a larger space.
How have you grown G&P's audience and customer base, and what have been the best parts about opening up to online retail?
Instagram has been the number one way people find out about our shop. It can be tricky to continue to reach customers through Instagram these days, but we continue to post pictures that make us proud and cross our fingers that they reach as many people as possible! We have also made hosting events and workshops a part of our regular schedule, and this helps new folks to discover us. We opened our web shop in November 2017 and it is great to be able to direct out of town customers there. We previously received a lot of messages and calls about shipping things and this is so much easier.