Shops We Love: Red Arrow Workshop.
Posted on March 27, 2014
It sounds like the beginning of a retail-themed sitcom: adorable and hard-working husband & wife team meets adorable and hard-working husband & wife team at a gift show in NYC and agree to forge a business relationship. In the case of Betsy & Will and Jason & Jillian, this actually happened. The show was NYNOW in January 2013 and we've been shipping betsy & iya to hot, humid Lafayette, Louisiana ever since. For more of the story on how this shop came to be, take it away, Jillian! J & J bein' all cute and such.
When/Why did you open Red Arrow Workshop? Red Arrow started out as a little side project while both of us were working full time (Jason as a journalist with a daily paper, and Jillian as a graphic and web designer). We started making messenger bags with silk screened fabrics that folks seemed to like a lot, and after a year or so of doing craft fairs around south Louisiana, we sunk every penny we had into opening a brick & mortar gift shop in August of 2012. We curated lines that fit our design aesthetic and values as consumers, and it ended up really resonating with the community down here. A few months after we opened, Jason was able to quit his job and focus on Red Arrow full-time.
What are some of your favorite things about Louisiana? We live in south Louisiana so it's hot and humid, but it's so much fun. We have this amazing culture that is 100% unique to our little spot on the globe. Obviously the food and music are on our list of marvels, but the people here are really amazing and inspiring. There are so many talented and creative folks that we are privileged to know here.
Describe your personal style: When I'm paying attention to what I'm wearing (about 30% of the time) I tend to go with the "more is more" philosophy. Lots of earrings, bracelets, bold colors and big hair are a must. (Editor's Note: so much yes to all of that, Jillian!!!!) These days, I dig on high-waisted jeans and skirts with loose cropped shirts, but I will always channel my inner Tina Turner and my inner Loretta Lynn, no matter what. Jason on the other hand is a pretty basic plaid shirt/t-shirt and jeans kind of a guy. He does enjoy a sweet pair of shoes though, and his eyes are two different colors, so that's a bit of a fashion statement right there.
Where to eat in Lafayette? There are literally too many favorites to just name one, but Social Southern, Pamplona, Saint Street Inn, Johnson's Boucaniere, The French Press, and Bread & Circus top our list of local favorites. We have a great community of chefs in this area that really do some amazing things with their own projects and in collaboration with one another, so there's never a dull moment when it comes to food. Photo courtesy of @saintstreetinn's Instagram
Best Stress Reliever: Hanging out with our family is pretty much our favorite thing ever. When we have the time, we like to go on bike rides and hikes with our daughter Paxton, and bring along our two standard poodles, Knives and Vega. We stop for coffee or gelato and everybody pets our dogs because they look like dogs wearing dog costumes, which is why we fell in love with them in the first place.
Dear Paxton, You are way cooler than I was at 13; Dear Knives & Vega, HOW ARE YOU SO CUTE?!
Favorite Hobbies: We tend to hop from thing to thing when it comes to hobbies. There's so much fun stuff to do and we want to try it all! Jason has spent the winter learning the art of mixology (which has been absolutely delicious) and he has a couple of woodworking projects going on. I have been focused designing everything I can, from our kitchen remodel and deck project at the house, to working with Jason on new bags and other products for Red Arrow. But my real passion is yard work...can I tell you how much I love to prune trees and bushes? It's embarrassing.
What inspires your buying for the shop (what do you look for in the lines you carry?): We always look for products that we would purchase for ourselves. We are not necessarily focused on current trends as much as things that resonate with us personally. We like designs that are functional, intelligent and beautiful. We try to bring in gift items that are perfect for that one person who is impossible to buy for, because we are impossible to buy for. We curate books that will inspire and educate. We look for natural kids toys that will and engage children and their parents. We find jewelry that is handcrafted and creates a unique narrative about the person who wears it. Scenes from the shop (love all the state pride!). Photos courtesy of Jillian.
Most rewarding part of your Job: My all-time favorite thing about this business is our customers. I love to watch new and regular customers discover that one special item for the first time. Some people look like they just opened a box full of kittens on Christmas morning, and that is totally my jam. We also seem to have an unusually large amount of reunions between old friends in our shop, which is pretty special. Watching kids round the corner into our toy section and light up with excitement is pretty funny. One little girl came into the store a few months ago and got so excited that she peed in her pants. We were beyond flattered, and only a little bit grossed out.
Hardest part of your job: The hardest part of this job is remembering everything! We are super DIY about everything, and our list of things to do is always 30-50 items. Just chipping away at that list and realizing that you will never be "finished" can be a hard pill to swallow.
Why do you like carrying betsy & iya jewelry in your shop? We met Will and Betsy at the gift fair in New York last January, and we loved them even more than we loved the jewelry (which is saying A LOT).
Betsy's designs are so classic, yet absolutely her own voice. They are like tiny sculptures. In her work, I can see everything from mid-century furnishings and art deco buildings to Egyptian treasure and medieval armor.
Favorite betsy & iya piece: At this moment, it is the Dalia Bangle. I have one, but I really need like, three of them so they can clank around and be friends on my wrist. Our Dalia bangle in the Mexico colorway.
Well gosh, Jillian, we agree on so much – a "more is more" philosophy on jewelry, big hair, the idea that wearing multiple Dalia bangles would create a cute bestie trio – it's no wonder betsy & iya and Red Arrow are such great shop friends. I hope we get to visit each other sometime soon and Jason, I'm putting in an advance order for an original mixology creation. Until then, join me in following Red Arrow on Facebook & Instagram. Cheers, Anna ***Song of the Moment: I Wanna Go by Britney Spears*** (Louisiana's finest!)