Nestled in the heart of Church Hill, Dear Neighbor is the 2017 version of a “mom and pop” shop with every nook and cranny carefully filled with an eclectic mix of sweet smelling candles, unique home decor, the sweetest baby clothes and a collection of pins, cards and beautiful jewelry. What the owner of this little shop describes as an “oh shit” gift shop where you can zip in to get a last second gift for a slip of the mind occasion, quickly turns into a rabbit hole of goodies as you aren’t sure what to get because everything is amazing and you secretly want to keep what you get for yourself! If you take even just the quickest peek into the window, you will understand exactly what I’m talking about. Between being a full time shop owner and new mother, the owner had a bit of time to talk to me about the inspiration of her shop and it makes me love it a bit more!
What was the inspiration for opening your store?
We wanted to create a place where Church Hill residents could buy cool gifts. Kinda like the “Oh Shit” gift shop! I’m always last minute trying to find a gift for a housewarming or baby shower that I totally forgot about! There wasn’t really any retail up here and saw an opportunity to create something really special. Originally we wanted to have a jewelry store but then thought why stop there – we could have home goods, baby, stationery, apothecary AND jewelry!
Have you always wanted to open a Small Business?
My husband and partner, Evan Cotter, has a very entrepreneurial mind. I moved here from NYC to get my masters and teach art – which I did for 5 years. Before that I worked in set design and PR in NYC. I went to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC) for Fashion Merchandising and Ad Communications. Even though I was teaching I always knew I wanted to create something more. Together we started Drift Riot and that was really just a creative outlet for the both of us, but as we learned the business it just kinda grew into what DEAR NEIGHBOR is today. Evan and I really enjoy working with each other and for each other so we made these plans in our down time…we have other cool things coming toooooo – and a baby; Lord help us all!
Editor’s Note: Baby Rune came in the midst of Kristy writing her responses to the questions for this feature!
I love everything in your shop! How do you choose what to sell?
I try to think about why someone would want to buy it for a gift and what the occasion might be but some things I have just have to have! I also try to find local artist and think about offering various price points. I don’t want everything to be too expensive. I like that anyone can walk in and find something that works for them and their budget – especially when buying a gift. Evan and I also like to travel and when we do, we try to find artist in different cities and shop our favorites stores to check out what works for them.
What is your favorite thing about being a Small Business owner?
Haha, I used to say because I can do whatever I want, but now I have a baby! So my favorite thing is my flex schedule…..but it will say my favorite card came from small business owner Melissa from Gather Home and Garden. She said “Owning a business is like having a baby, and having a baby is like running a marathon on Benadryl while someone shouts Jeopardy questions at you!” This is pretty accurate if you ask me!
Why open in the RVA area?
I love Richmond! It’s the perfect size to start a small business and has such an amazing and connected group of small businesses owners!
What makes owning a Small Business in RVA so unique?
I’m not sure as I’ve never owned a business anywhere else but I’ll let you know when we open the second Dear Neighbor (JK!)
Now time for rapid fire questions!
First thing you did this morning?
Last song you listened to too?
Oh man! Music is always on at my house but REALLY into disco right now. I just want to go out and DANCE; new mom syndrome!
Three things in your purse right now?
Wallet (obvi), new context lipgloss we sell at the shop…so obsessed and a pacifier – LOL
Speaking of the shop, what is your favorite thing in your shop?
We just got these faux fur scarves by Donnie Charm and I want to sleep in it!
Favorite TV show?
Workaholics! It keeps coming on after a Netflix’s show and it’s SO funny!
Want more Dear Neighbor?
Shop Location: 2415 Jefferson Avenue
This post is in partnership with Shop Small by American Express as a Small Business Champion
one image via the Dear Neighbor website