Published: November 8, 2017
The intersection of design and function was top of mind when Amy McClellan opened Reverie Living. We spoke with her about her shift into the world of retail, creating a relaxing store design, and resources for those with aspirations of creating their own small business.
Reverie Living has been described as a “lifestyle boutique.” What does that mean?
It means we feature a range of products from home wares, to personal accessories, jewelry and we just added women's apparel a couple of years ago. We carry products by local, national and international artists and designers; the common denominator is that everything must have a fabulous design, be well made, affordable and have a function. Everything in this store is going to do something for you… and it will look really awesome serving its function. Everyday life should be filled with things that make you smile and hopefully we have lots of products that do that.
The atmosphere in your store is really relaxing. There’s a lot here, but it doesn't feel overwhelming. Dare we say, it feels kind of “Scandinavian?”
We get that quite a bit. I take it as a compliment because there has always been a lot of great design coming out of Scandinavian countries. Everything is intentional. We've tried to create an aesthetic in the store that matches our products, so very clean contemporary, light, and airy. I am not a shopper—that's not where I find my joy—so I wanted to create the type of environment that people like me would feel comfortable in. You might not be sure what you’re looking for, but you're going to find something. So that's been a little bit of our motto: “Come and find what you didn't know you were looking for.”
You described your space as light and airy, which must correlate to the word “Reverie” in the store’s name?
Yes. Reverie means "daydream." My husband and I had been batting around names with family and friends for a while, and one evening he looked at me as I was thinking about something else and said, "when are you going to get out of your reverie and..." We stopped and looked at each other and said, "Reverie" that's a great name for a store! We tacked on the "living" to help illustrate the scope of the store as a lifestyle store. We’re all about beautiful products you might need in your everyday life.
Can you give us an example of something you might need in your everyday life that you carry here?
Sure. Look at these salt and pepper grinders by Menu. They have a beautiful design. They call them “bottle grinders” just because they mimic the shape of a bottle. You literally pull them apart to load peppercorns, salt rocks, whatever you're going to grind…it's WAY easier than loading other grinders. After you’re done grinding, all the powder dust falls back into the cylinder and not out the bottom on to your counter or table. This is simply a great example of beautiful design that also functions exactly the way you want it to.
Have you always worked in this sort of retail capacity?
Actually, I was in non-profit management for about 25 years, and then I made a switch to owning this store about five years ago. We initially opened in the Lower Highland neighborhood, but then moved to Cherry Creek North.
Why did you make the move to Cherry Creek North?
We decided we wanted to be in the premiere shopping district in Denver. We wanted to be where there were other small, independent, owner-operated businesses. This area is just such a destination for shopping with lots of people who also live and work here. We’re excited to participate in Small Business Saturday this year. Then again, every day is Small Business Saturday for stores like us.
From non-profit management to owning and operating a lifestyle boutique…was that a steep learning curve?
I think given my past work, so many of my skills were translatable. When I worked with non-profits, I did a lot of strategy developments, branding and marketing, financial management, budgeting, program development and customer service. I also know what it feels like to walk in to a completely empty office and start something from nothing, so that didn't freak me out.
As a small business owner, do you have any advice for others who might want to follow the same path?
I would definitely check out the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC). I went to one of their start-up workshops. I went in thinking that I am either going to come back terrified and want to run away and say, "no way, I can't do this," or, be energized. I came back and thought, "wow, this is awesome. I can do this." Through the SBDC, I was able to connect with a free consultant, which was a fabulous resource. I’m living proof that you can do this if you both plan carefully and take a leap of faith.
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