The Carefully-Curated Spartan Shop Expands Into a Creative Consultancy
After 10 years at their original spot on South Lamar Street in Austin, Texas, Spartan Shop will be shuttering that location and transferring their retail operations to their newly opened flagship store in Portland, Oregon. They won't be completely pulling out of Person's hometown of Austin though. The company, which consists of Person, her husband Patrick Newell, and her buying partner Julie Pearson—who runs operations in Austin—will morph into Spartan Studio, a creative consultancy offering interior styling for commercial and residential spaces, as well as sourcing and retail strategy services for hotels and restaurants. Just one look at the business they've built over the past 10 years and it's easy to see what makes Spartan Shop's clean and modern aesthetic so covetable.
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Located on a busy retail block in Portland's Industrial Southeast area, floor-to-ceiling windows stream refreshing Pacific Northwest lighting into their bright showroom. The stunning retail space also houses a backroom HQ for their burgeoning online business as purveyors of minimalist objects for life. The corner showroom feels as contemporary as their assortment and the building has good bones, as well as a rich local history. The 1923 structure's past lives have included an automotive showroom, a "Portland Pop" bottling facility, and one of several buildings that made up the former wholesale flower market.
Person's background in film and her frequent travel no doubt play a big role in her eye for design and her vision for the shop. After spending time in Paris and New York, Person relocated from Austin to Portland five years ago, and has been there ever since. As part of her slow plan to understand and break into the Portland market, Spartan Shop initially shared floor space at a favorite local boutique, Beam & Anchor. But they finally outgrew the shared space and opened the new full-fledged flagship in October 2016.
The design for the flagship was a collaboration with interior designer Ruth De Jong, who is one half of a Spartan Shop favorite—the LA-based brother-sister furniture duo De Jong & Co. Customizing displays and collaborating on pieces for the shop was something Person truly enjoyed. "It has been a really fun collaboration for us. We're trying to do more and more outreach for De Jong & Co. and act as kind of a showroom for their furniture in the Pacific Northwest. Their aesthetic fits ours so well. It's warm and has so much thought and philosophy behind it."
Always in search of unique pieces, the team at Spartan Shop has become masters of collaboration, often working together with makers to create exclusive editions for their shop—everything from ceramics to furniture. "We couldn't find a champagne glass that we really loved, so we're working with a local glass blower here in Portland to develop a custom one."
It's an ethos and business plan that they intend to transition into their consultancy, diving deeper into product development with the new arm of their business—"We've been doing this for a long time and have relationships with so many different people all over the world, and we're really good at just jumping into a city and being like, "Let's get stuff made!"
But despite big plans and the new digs, Person hasn't completely closed the door to the thought of another location in Austin. "We're already getting offers on other spaces in Austin, so we may not be leaving forever—the door is definitely still open," she says.
A look at some of Currie Person's favorites: