I know Nicole somewhat (mostly via email correspondence) from our days when I was Bazaar and she was at Cartier in P.R. I left, then she left for Tiffany’s and fast forward to last year when I learned that she was opening a home store in NYC. Good home stores, at least in NYC, are few and far between, so I was curious and excited. Her Greenwich Village boutique, The Grey Pearl, is a find. Not only has she sourced unique table top items that I haven’t seen anywhere else, she also offers the kind of quiet minimalist pieces I typically lean towards along with a vibrant array of items that are so good, they’re hard to resist. If you’re looking for holiday gifts (especially host gifts), this is a great place to start. She just launched her online store, but if you want something extra, call her and ask her to help you create a gift basket (she has great actual baskets for this). I’ve sent friends baskets filled with fun objets and pantry items and they are always enthusiastically received. Here, Nicole answers some TFI ?s.
Please share a bit of your background and what made you decide to open The Grey Pearl. I had been working in PR for the past 20+ years and had incredible experiences working with two global retailers, Cartier and Tiffany & Co. Most recently at Tiffany where I was working under Reed Krakoff and involved in the launch of the Everyday Object Home & Accessories Collection which further fueled my existing interest in the home category.
I was looking to make a career change and wanted to do something in the home space that also aligned with my personal interests. I live in NYC and have a house upstate and always looking for tabletop and objects that make my houses feel like homes, preferably handmade pieces from local artists. I also love entertaining and gathering with friends.
There are a number of excellent home stores in New York City but I could never quite find what I was looking for. My initial vision was to open a space dedicated to entertaining – all things for the table paired with pantry items but I’ve expanded the assortment since I’ve opened to include more objects and gifts. The concept continues to evolve as I discover new brands and see what’s exciting to clients.
What do you want people to experience when they walk into your store? I want people to feel like they’ve just discovered a well kept secret…a space filled with an array of gorgeous, purposeful goods but not overwhelmed where they become paralyzed by choice. And most importantly to be inspired to entertain, connect with friends and family and create a beautiful home …something as simple as using a great mug has the ability to transform the mundane into a delightful moment.
What differentiates The Grey Pearl from other home stores? I like to shop locally and there are so many local artists in this area but I could never find them all in one spot. I love to cook and always on the hunt for new food brands and carry an assortment of interesting and high quality pantry items many from small batch producers.
Additionally, I have a few items exclusive to The Grey Pearl and exclusivity is something I’m working on expanding. I think it’s important to make connections with the designers I carry and get to know them so we can work together on providing exclusive items that can be sold in the shop.
You are also going to have events in store, can you talk a little bit about that? Yes, I’m excited to host pop-up and trunk shows in the space so there’s always a reason to stop in and discover new collections and also partner with other like minded brands and individuals to give them an opportunity to present their work and collections in a physical environment.
Fall entertaining is in full swing, can you give 5/6 items for a minimalist table and the same for a maximalist one?
If I was setting a minimalist table, I would keep the dinnerware and flatware minimal and use glassware with an interesting silhouette, bring in subtle color with tapers, add some texture through napkins or placemats and use oversized organic shaped serving ware as the focal point.
For the maximalist table, I would start with the table linens – the bolder the better with a mix of colors and patterns. I would focus on layering both the dinnerware and the linens and incorporate different types of florals or greenery and candles in varying shapes, sizes and heights. I love adding found objects or a bit of whimsy to a maximalist table!
Nicole’s Host Gift Ideas
$30 and under: Sabre Bistro cheese knife; Boheme scented matches; 54 Celsius Noeud Soap. $50 and under: MJ Tablescapes hand-painted candles; Chefanie embroidered cocktail napkins; Jennifer Fisher salt trio. $100 and Under: Set of six Bell Hutley Coasters; Lateral Objects set of three glass votive holders; Brightland gift set of best sellers.
The ultimate gift: Jeff Wallace Artwork – I have three amazing pieces starting at $2200.
What will you be using this winter on your table when you entertain? I can’t get enough of Isabel Hailey’s painted striped collection and she has new colors for fall, deep evergreen and a rich and joyful goldenrod – I use the wine cups for wine, water, cocktails, desert or as a mini flower vase.
What is your fave winter recipe? I don’t make it often but I love to experiment with different types of cassoulet recipes when I have the time, preferably when a snow storm is rolling into town.
Fave winter drink? A spicy Margarita or a glass of red wine
Fave winter weekend getaway? The Catskills.
Winter means.… Weekends of late lunches that linger into the early evening, sitting in front of the fire place with a nice glass of red wine and nowhere to go.