The weekend after Thanksgiving I finally had the opportunity to stop by the shop More & Co. in Portland, ME. After months of following each other’s twitter, instagram, etc. I was very excited to put a face to a name. Also, my mother-in-law had discovered the shop over the summer and was eager to get me in as she knows my weakness for good taste and beautifully made pieces and objects. We popped into the store after grabbing some lattes on a rather drizzly day and I was able to chat with Maria, one of the four creative brains behind More & Co., which is also a creative agency. Read her delightful Q&A below to learn more about the agency, the shop, and what they have planned for the new year!
Q. More & Co. is a group of four like minded creatives living in Portland, ME. Can you tell us a little more about yourself and your three partners?
A. We are two sets of sweeties all of whom have a background in creative fields. We have all studied art and design but beyond that, we all love to travel and learn new things. I’d say that we try not to take ourselves or our work too seriously. We want to connect with the projects we do and the items we carry in our shop in a cosmic way. (Hope that doesn’t sound too crazy; it’s true!) We like to surround ourselves with beautiful, useful things and enjoy playing out in the natural landscape of Maine.
Q. What brought the four of you together to create the creative agency?
A. CDR and I started More, a small art studio on the East End in Portland, several years back. It was just the two of us with a letterpress and a few work tables. We wanted to use the space to create art and share it with people. When we left that space (bad landlord!), we worked out of our apartments for a while and brought Ryan when we accidentally got a “client.” We had been talking with Ryan for a few years about working together and this just seemed the time. Hence, More & Co., was born. Lynsey, Ryan’s sweetie, came on this year as a partner when we opened the shop. We are really just a group of besties working together and trying to have fun!
Q. When did you open the shop and what inspired the team to dive into retail?
A. The shop opened on May 30th of this year. Our travels inspired us to open a shop. We kept seeing things we loved along the way and dreamed of a space where they could all be together. We also wanted to create our own product line that would sit next to these goods. We wanted to make a shop that we would want to shop in! It happened organically from there.
Q. The shop seems to be in constant rotation – there is always something new and exciting. Can you explain how you curate the goods in the store around themes?
A. We decided to go with the concepts so that it would keep things fresh for us and for those who are making things for us. The traditional shop model, while fine, was just not for us. We needed it to be connected to something bigger. If we had concepts and themes, that was our chance to do just that. Now when you walk into the space, hopefully, you feel the vibe as a whole movement and not just a space full of stuff to buy. We hope you will visit the shop just to be inspired! We hope the themes and concepts are interesting for our customers and visitors as well.
Q. Is it challenging to be consistently developing new themes and curating around that? Or do you find it’s better for the retail experience – for you and the customer?
A. The challenge we have is keeping up! We love our concepts and won’t give those up but it is a good thing we have a full creative team in place here at More & Co. to help with photography, design, writing. It takes a group to pull this kind of thing off and we all work very hard. Perhaps too hard! We are committed to bringing our customers the rotating themes in the space, though, because we ourselves love it! We want to love what we do.
Q. What do you find challenging and rewarding about running a business in Portland, ME?
A. Well, Portland is a small town. It’s always challenging to do something new in a place where most of the shops look the same. That said, we have had great feedback and support. People may think “I have to buy something” when they think of shop. We don’t want people to feel that way about More & Co. Our shop is just as much a place to just stop in and poke around as it is to shop. That’s a new concept for Portland, perhaps? Here we have art spaces and galleries and then there are shops. There is nothing in between. Everyone always wants to put you in a box. “What are you guys?” is the question we get a lot. I love that. Doing something challenging is fun!
Q. More & Co. is on holiday from December 23 to February 14, can you give us a hint of what’s to come in 2014? And maybe what to expect when doors reopen on Valentine’s Day?
A. Well, you are the first person we are telling …. Our opening concept for 2014 is called THIS IS LOVE. It will feature some of our most loved items from the first 6 months of our life as a shop. We will be pulling together items we love and items you all love. We are so excited to open back up on Valentine’s day and share the love through the long winter season. After that, we will have a robust summer collection with several layers as well as a small autumn collection and then our holiday feature again. It’s going to be a really fun year!
Q. Finally, what are some of your favorite gift ideas for this holiday season?
A. Right now I am in love with . . .
• FLOTSAM + FORK (especially these)
• HANSEL FROM BASEL (especially tights)
• ALDER & CO. (especially Aurelia)
• PORTLAND APOTHECARY (Forest Soap is my favorite)
• JENNY PENWOOD