by adwells on March 3, 2014
Welcome to a new little blog experiment, “Setting Up Shop.” Oftentimes when I’m traveling for a story, I find some of the most amazing locally owned shops. Being, well, myself, I dive in and try to find out who owns these places and what their story happens to be. That’s the beauty of locally owned places, it’s usually interesting people following their very own interesting dreams. While I love asking a million questions and finding out the story of the people behind the shop, it’s a shame not to share it. So here you go, round one.
She is pretty awesome and has impeccable taste to boot. In 2009, Erin opened Amelia, a perfectly little curated shop in Oxford, Mississippi that has unique art, paper products, gifts, jewelry, kids’ clothes, you name it. Right next door to The Lyric Theatre on the Oxford Square, you’ll step into one of the most beautiful little shops I ever did see.
You can shop Amelia online, too. Plus, follow Erin on Instagram @ameliapresents for her series, Studio Stories featuring the artists and artisans she carries in her shop and for #mymorningswithtomotis for awesome pictures of Erin’s little dude, Tom Otis.
Erin sat down with me for a quick little Q&A about Amelia and Oxford (one of my favorite Mississippi spots).
AW: Tell me about Amelia and how it came into being.
EK: Well, Amelia is a shop I always wanted to run. The shop that I was always looking for when I was traveling for work. So, as I was changing careers and not traveling as a nanny anymore, it was the perfect time to open the shop I always dreamed of owning. Around that same time, a childhood friend had a tiny room, with a street entrance, available. It was all just meant to be.
the world in the shop and I blend that with a hand-picked selection of children’s items. Two iconic Amelia’s popped into my mind – Amelia Earhart and Amelia Bedelia. Amelia seemed to be a perfect fit.
AW: Tell me about yourself, where you grew up, everything!
EK: I was born in Mississippi and grew up in Oxford, until 1985. We then moved to Florida. After college, I moved to Boston, then Seattle, San Francisco, Memphis, New York City, and finally, when I just couldn’t get Mississippi out of my mind, I moved back, to Water Valley in 2005. I also lived in Los Angeles for awhile, splitting my time between Water Valley and LA. When I gave up my place in LA, I moved back full time and opened Amelia.
AW: How would you describe your aesthetic and the aesthetic of your shop?
EK: I feel like Amelia is an extension of my home. I am drawn to vintage mixed with art. That can be broad but one visit through the shop, you see how the 100 + artists that I carry mix well from one to the next. It’s cohesive, like a group art show, building one body of work. That’s the art curator in me talking.
AW: When looking for what to carry in your shop, what is it that you look for?
EK: Cohesiveness with what is already there. I want to be able to rearrange the shop and have anything that is already there to stand well next to any other item already in the shop. I never want it looks like it’s just thrown together, because I personally work really hard to find the items that I carry, and someone worked really hard to make the items that I carry and I want my customers to value the items that they can find in the shop. I also want to know that you can’t always find the items that I stock at just any old shop. Some of the items that I sell, I’m the only shop in the country to carry. I want you to walk in and have that feeling that you are getting something special and will make you remember your time in Mississippi.
AW: What’s the one thing in your store you can’t resist?
EK: That’s so hard and a two part answer. For myself, it’s hands down jewelry and paper goods. Since having a child, it’s children’s items. I only carry clothes in my shop that I would love to put on Tom Otis or a little girl if I had one. Same for the toy selection.
AW: Why did you choose Oxford as the place to set up shop?
EK: I chose Oxford because of the proximity to the University of Mississippi. It’s a walking town and walking traffic is great for business. I grew up in Oxford and it will always be a special place for me. So the mix of college students that are drawn to my shop, mixed with all the young artists and families that are moving to the area all the time, it just seemed like the best fit.
AW: If someone had 24 hours in Oxford, what should be on their not-to-miss list?
EK: For breakfast, I’d grab a humble pie and coffee from Bottletree, then walk to Amelia, Square Books (all three locations) and Southside Gallery. Then take a drive out to my little town of Water Valley for lunch at The BTC Grocery. Afterwards, walk over to Yalo Studios and Bozart’s Gallery. Then back to Oxford to make sure to see Rowan Oak (the home of William Faulkner), The University Museum, which was rated in the top 20 of University Museums in the country. After that stop into The End of All Music for the latest in vinyl records. After that full day, grab a drink on the porch at City Grocery and finish with dinner at Snackbar. Whew!
AW: Favorite activities for your mornings with Tom Otis?
EK: Oh, we have many… lately we have been going on walks in the morning before I take him to school. We don’t get far because we stop to look at everything, but we talk about the moss growing on the walls or what animals eat the acorns on the sidewalk. We look for birds and gather leaves. I got my B.S. in Early Childhood Education and taught Montessori school in Seattle. I also nannied over the span of 27 years. I can’t help but make everything a learning experience. It’s ingrained in me. On really cool days, we will read books together and he loves to color, so I sit with him and we soak up the short time we have between waking and work.
If you’re in Oxford, stop in and see Erin at Amelia at 1006 Van Buren Avenue.
Thanks, Erin! Stay tuned for more Setting up Shop!