Thistle & Clover

I’m a bit of a giddy gal. I can’t help it! I’m about to unveil my very first boutique spotlight!! I couldn’t possibly be more thrilled to introduce you to…

Thistle & Clover

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m a devoted admirer of independent designers. If not through what you’ve read here, then through my days at Clarabella. The whole basis of my old shop was to herald the independent, to tell the stories of the up-and-comers. Thistle & Clover has taken this concept to a whole new level. I’ve been impressed with owners Camilla Gale and Rand Niederhoffer since they opened T&C’s doors back in 2008 and am constantly drawn to their alluring line up of up-and-coming designers. Each piece is hand-picked to fit with the shop’s unique and accessible aesthetic. Open calls for new artists intermingle with trunk shows and new line launches. They’ve managed to open the shop of my dreams, while also making me long for NY again, just a little bit!;)

I was lucky enough, last week, to catch a moment with these savvy fashionistas. Lucky for me (and for you!) they were kind enough to answer a few questions. I hope you’re as excited about what they have to offer as I am!!

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Lovely people, meet Rand and Camilla, owners of and geniuses behind the magnificent Thistle & Clover:

Pop in to their Fort Greene locale (221 DeKalb Avenue) while visiting NYC and satisfy your need for instant gratification (don’t you have it too??) on the online shop (accessible from the main website)!

the website :: the diaries :: the tweets :: the fan page

the interview

Just Plain Lovely: Where did you two meet?

Thistle & Clover: We met while studying abroad at St. Andrews University in Scotland.

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JPL: When did you first come up with the idea for Thistle & Clover and how did you get it all started?

T&C: We decided to open T & C over a romantic dinner at Grotto in the LES. The idea was to carry new, exciting designers that you couldn’t find elsewhere that were also wearable. We handpick everything in the store. So it really does feel like you’re walking into a good friend’s closet. We sell pretty cocktail dresses, tailored work shirts and basic tanks & tees along with more fashion forward pieces like statement necklaces, high-waisted skirts and oxford shoes.

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JPL: Is there any significance behind the name?

T&C: The name alludes to the song, Crimson and Clover that we listened to a lot while we were formulating our plans for the store. We substituted Crimson with Thistle, which is Scotland’s national flower and the place we first became friends! [JPL note: I’ve had this song in my head all week!! I love it! check it out here]

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JPL: What made you settle on Fort Greene for your shop location?

T&C: We wanted to pick an area that felt like a true neighborhood and wasn’t already saturated with boutiques. Fort Greene is an amazingly diverse and friendly community. We’re so lucky to be here.

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JPL: How do you find your new designers?

T&C: We’re constantly on the look out for labels that our customers will respond to. Our Open Call is definitely a big part of that. But we also attend every New York trade show, lots of showrooms, use word of mouth recommendations, and keep up to date with hundreds of blogs, magazines and newspapers.

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[Dress by Dace]

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JPL: When did you first come up with the idea for your open call? Have you been doing that since you opened?

T&C: The Open Call evolved organically out of our primary mission: to support the work of young up and coming designers. We wanted to find a way to reach out to new fresh talent, who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to show their work to buyers.

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JPL: Are there any guidelines for submission?

T&C: There is only one must for our Open Calls: You have to be from the NY-area. Otherwise, it’s completely first-come, first-served. We see collections that are both fledgling and established. It really runs the gamut. [JPL note: learn more about the open call here. This season’s has just passed, so keep checking back for the next round!]

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[ring by Blanca Monros Gomez]

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JPL: Could you ever see yourself designing a Thistle & Clover line to sell in addition to the independent designers you work with now?

T&C: We currently design a small collection of jewelry under the Thistle & Clover label (pretty 14K charm necklaces and studs), but haven’t designed any clothing as of yet. There’s a first for everything though!

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[necklace by Thistle & Clover]

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[necklace by Thistle & Clover]

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JPL: What are you favorite events to host at the shop?

T&C: We love hosting trunk shows at the store. They give us a chance to let our customers meet their fave designer face-to-face, and showcase a greater selection of their merch at an excellent discount! We also give a party to celebrate the launch of each subsequent issue of our online editorial lookbook “The Thistle & Clover Diaries.” (www.thistlecloverdiaries.com)

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JPL: Do you still seek out new designers or do most of your lines come to you from the open calls that you hold?

T&C: We definitely seek out designers apart from those that visit us through our Open Call. What’s nice about the Open Call is that though a line may not be right for us at that instant, we encourage the designer to keep in contact with us so that we can oversee their progress. We just picked up a line for Spring that way.

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[Dress by Edelweiss]

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JPL: Do you both act as buyers?

T&C: Yes, absolutely.

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JPL: How is it to run a business with a good friend? how do you settle disagreements?

T&C: It’s wonderful and incredibly rewarding, but as in any partnership you have to work at it. Our friendship has evolved into something more like a “significant othership.” We speak a different language that our other friends cannot understand, and have to make sure we carve out time for us to be friends sans store. Over the past 2 years, we’ve had to be vigilant that no disagreement escalates to the point of no return. Usually now, if we really disagree on something (say specifically a piece of clothing), we pass on it. If we’re not unanimously for it, chances are our customers won’t be either.

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[Dress by Geren Ford]

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JPL: Do you have any plans to expand?

T&C: Not as of yet. We’re just in that 2-year groove right now. Being the only 2 people at the store, we’ve gotten to know our regulars: Their taste, their families, their lives etc. If we expanded, we’d lose all that.

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the favorites :: Rand

Author: Galt Niederhoffer, EO Wilson and Dave Eggers

Musician: The National

Drink: Oh. The now extinct Pravda Rosemary Martini

Flower: Anything picked out by the girls at Saipua & Nicolette Camille Floral Design

Favorite Lines: Alison Lewis, Wren & Trovata

Design Inspiration/ Style Icon: Alexa Chung, Maggie Gyllenhaal, any and all editorials by Lula editor Leith Clark

the favorites :: Camilla

Author: Philip Roth, Edith Wharton, Truman Capote, John Updike

Musician: Bob Dylan, Florence + The Machine, Adele, The Band

Drink: Wine

Flower: Lily of the Valley, Peonies and Lilacs

Favorite Lines: Celine, Ann Demuelemeester, Isabel Marant and Vanessa Bruno

Design Inspiration/Style Icon:  Both my mother and mother-in-law. Both have impeccable taste and personal style.

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Thanks so much ladies!! It was an absolute pleasure!

[all images courtesy of Thistle & Clover]

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Comments

  1. Wonderful post, Erin! I read with a smile on my face, both at their witty replies and carefully selected pieces featured here. I think I would enjoy every single one!

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