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Owning a small business is no easy feat but it definitely has its advantages. The direct contact and personal relationships owners establish with their customers help them provide something few big companies can—a truly personalized experience. And when you’re in the business of offering luxury products, perfection becomes the standard not just in terms of the products you offer but also in the overall shopping experience.
Fortunately, there is no shortage in the country of small companies that are committed to providing their jet-set clientele with the most exclusive goods and services sourced from around the globe.
From bespoke fashion pieces and fine linens to luxury beauty and one-of-a-kind home decor, some independent stores have made a big name for themselves as purveyors of luxury.
Here, we rounded up 19 brick-and-mortar and online small businesses to put on your radar for all things luxe and high-living.
The Future Perfect
When David Alhadeff founded his gallery/design store in Brooklyn’s hip Williamsburg neighborhood in 2003, he focused on nurturing and promoting new and up-and-coming American artists. While the idea wasn’t particularly popular at the time—similar design-focused businesses were all about midcentury modern European designers—his strategy paid off in the long run. The Future Perfect is now considered one of the most influential contemporary design galleries.
Alhadeff has expanded the company with three more branches in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City where customers can shop a highly curated selection of furniture, rugs, wallpaper, and objects d’art by exciting young and established modern designers such as Atelier Asai, Chris Wolston, Piet Hein Eek, and Lindsey Adelman.
To shop: thefutureperfect
Nick Fouquet Hats
Nick Fouquet arrived in Venice, California in 2008 not really knowing much about hats until he met his mentor, fellow Frenchman Christophe Loiron. Three years later, he launched his own business and since then, Fouquet has become the go-to hatter for celebs such as Madonna, Pharrell Williams, Lady Gaga, and Bob Dylan.
Fouquet credits his dad’s style (model Bernard Fouquet) and Keith Richards among others as his main source of inspiration for his bespoke creations.
Each one of his chapeaus takes about eight weeks to create and is made from sustainably harvested Beaver fur felt.
You can also shop his ready-to-wear line on his website but for a truly one-of-a-kind topper, head to his Venice Beach store.
To shop: nickfouquet; 2300 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
E. Braun & Co New York
Founded in 1893 in Vienna as a ready-to-wear and fine linens boutique, E. Braun & Co moved to New York City in 1943 and since then has become the city’s premier fine linens destination.
Stop by the elegant Park Avenue store to shop the store’s impressive selection of classic and contemporary designs for your bathroom, bedroom, and dining room. Want something unique? The store also offers many bespoke services that will help you create something truly one-of-a-kind for your home.
To shop: E. Braun & Co. New York, 484 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022
As Hawaii’s oldest island, Kauai is home to the largest number of native plants of any of the other eight major islands. It is exactly that natural diversity that inspired Dana Roberts to create her luxury beauty line, Malie (pronounced mah-lee-ay) in 2004.
The brand’s body, hair, and skincare lines are formulated with organic, all-natural ingredients—think plumeria, pikake, hibiscus, and coconut—using a steam distilling method that keeps the plants’ signature aromas and therapeutic properties.
The result is over 200 luxury natural products that embody the diversity of Hawaii’s tropical flora but most importantly that don’t contain any parabens, sulfates, phthalates, petrochemicals, mineral oil, silicone, talc, or gluten. Malie often partners with 5-star spa destinations in the state such as The Royal Hawaiian, Andaz at Wailea, and Moana Lani Spa at Moana Surf Rider to develop custom spa treatments.
To shop: malie
Since its inception in 2012, Fivestory has become the go-to destination of stylish New Yorkers for all things luxury fashion. The store’s skillfully curated selection of women’s clothing, shoes, accessories, fragrances, and art (that can also be shopped online) by emerging designers has made it an institution in a city obsessed with the latest fashion must-haves.
Fivestory recently changed ownership and moved from its original location on the Upper East Side to Madison Avenue. The new owner, fashion executive Karen Murray has pioneered Fivestory’s foray into pre-owned and vintage designer pieces by brands such as Chanel and Saint Laurent.
To shop: fivestory, 1020 Madison Avenue, NY 10075
Houston’s Lewis Jewelers has come a long way since its founding in 1980 by the family’s matriarch Sandy Lewis. Back then, it was “a small jewelry storefront in Houston’s Clear Lake area” where Sandy enjoyed talking to people more than she did selling them jewelry. But 40 years later, the business, now helmed by Sandy’s son and his wife, has expanded turning it into one of Houston’s premium destinations for fine jewelry, watches, and engagement rings.
With pieces by David Yurman, Gucci, Ippolita, Lagos, Mikimoto, as well as a great selection of watches by Rolex, Omega, and H. Moser, Lewis Jewelers should certainly be on your radar next time you visit Houston.
To shop: lewisusa; 19335 Gulf Freeway Webster, TX 77598 and 1141 Uptown Park Blvd Houston, TX 77056
Ready-to-wear, jewelry and accessories brand Figue is the brainchild of creative director Stephanie von Watzdorf whose jet-set heritage—she was born in Paris and spent her summers in Italy before moving to New York—inspired the idea for her “seasonless brand.”
Figue’s signature styles include vintage military jackets that von Watzdorf embellishes with handmade patches to give them a new (and very chic) look and boho dresses in bold prints and embroideries.
To shop: figue
When The Tot’s founder Nasiba Adilova was pregnant with her first child in 2016, she struggled to find a single reputable source of information for non-toxic toys and baby products. That’s why she launched one online out of Dallas.
Four years later, and The Tot is now a trusted online destination for moms-to-be who are not just looking for a new car seat or a crib but who would also like to read the latest expert parenting tips on everything from non-toxic feeding practices to weaning.
To shop: thetot
The SIL (short for The Stuff I Love) was founded as a platform for emerging designers by Los Angeles-based PR professional Natalie Bloomingdale. The idea behind it—to offer “curated exclusives”—was born after Bloomingdale noticed how important limited-edition designer collaborations were becoming in fashion.
She now works with about 20 independent designers, all female, who create pieces exclusively sold on The SIL. From a Hayden Lasher lizard-embossed leather handbag, handmade in New York, to a sophisticated made-to-order cobalt blue Emilia Wickstead midi dress, The SIL is for the woman who appreciates one-of-a-kind designs.
To shop: shopthesil
Sister duo and San Clemente-natives Oleema and Kalani Miller founded Mikoh “as a statement on swimwear for the modern woman, inspired by a life spent in bikinis and oceans around the world.”
This jet-set philosophy translates into statement prints and colors inspired by the sisters’ trips to faraway lands. Mikoh’s one-pieces can easily be styled with a skirt or a pair of pants for a casual but elegant outfit. And the brand’s ready-to-wear pieces, be it a classic shirt tunic or a ruffled maxi dress, are the epitome of laid-back California culture with a sophisticated twist.
To shop: mikoh
Next time you’re in Aspen and need a precious gift for a special someone, stop by Etc…’s store on Hopkins Avenue and you won’t leave empty-handed. The company, which brands itself as “the South's premier destination (they have another store in Birmingham) for one-of-a-kind designer jewelry and accessories” definitely lives up to this description.
Among their latest arrivals are a Brent Neale 18-karat yellow gold and diamonds link bracelet ($17,500) and a stunning pair of Roaring 20s-inspired 18-karat yellow gold garnet, tourmaline, and diamond drop earrings ($25,000) by New York fine jewelry label Sorellina.
And if you’re not planning a trip to the famed ski resort any time soon, head to Etc…’s website where you will find a cool selection of clothing, shoes, and accessories.
To shop: shopetcjewelry; 465 East Hopkins Ave, Aspen, CO
This may be Chicago’s oldest pharmacy (it was founded in 1875) but don’t expect to step into a small and dated dark space that smells musty. In 2018, Merz expanded its original apothecary by 1,900 square feet divided into three contemporary shops dedicated to women’s beauty products, fragrances, and men’s grooming. Knowledgeable make-up artists and estheticians are always there to provide professional advice and do mini makeovers.
Stop by and stock up on skincare by Dr. Hauschka, Kjaer Weis, and Annemarie Borlind or pick up a bottle from your favorite Byredo or Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris fragrance. And don’t forget to add a little something for your next spa evening such as a Diptyque or Boy Smells candle.
To shop: smallflower; 4716 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625 and 17 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603
Eric Buterbaugh Florals
Eric Buterbaugh really needs no introduction, especially if you live in Los Angeles. The famed florist and perfumer has created stunning arrangements for Tom Ford, Salma Hayek, Princess Beatrice, and Jessica Alba. And he frequently works with Dior, Cartier, Chateau Marmont, and the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. So whether you are getting married or simply need a beautiful bouquet of peonies for your home or office, visit Eric’s studio on 7001 Melrose to peruse his dreamy arrangements.
He also has a line of fragrances and candles that he has dedicated an entire store to in the heart of Beverly Hills.
To shop: ericbuterbaugh; 7001 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Departamento is hands-down the coolest menswear store in LA although it may take you a while to find it. Why? Well, you first have to enter through a coffee shop—Maru Coffee— in the Arts District of downtown LA and walk along a white corridor before you reach the stockroom-slash-gallery-like space where Marni hoodies and boldly printed shirts by Phipps and Bode hang from metal garment racks. Expect to leave with a brand new wardrobe by the trendiest designers of the moment.
If you’re not headed to the City of Angels anytime soon, Departamento also has an (equally cool-looking) online store.
To shop: dpto.la; 1019 S Santa Fe Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 9002
One thing is certain—if you go furniture shopping in Blackman Cruz, your home will be anything but boring and ordinary. Adam Blackman and David Cruz, the founders of the spacious gallery/atelier, were once dubbed the “rebels of the design world” for their eclectic mixture of modern and antique furniture, décor, lighting, and works of art elegantly displayed in their 9,500-square-foot showroom in Los Angeles. The creative duo also has an in-house furniture line—Blackman Cruz Workshop.
The store’s newest additions include a 1970s upholstered Bullet Loveseat ($17,000), a Coquillage Grotto table with a pink onyx top sitting on a pedestal base adorned with corals and shells ($32,000), and a 19th-century Persian rug from Iran ($4,500).
To shop: blackmancruz; 836 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Dubbed “the tabletop whisperer” the founder of Chicago-based Kneen&Co, Mary Jeanne Kneen, has spent the last ten plus years helping her clients find the best dinnerware, table linens, décor, and bedding for their homes.
The exquisitely curated roaster of heritage and emerging brands at Kneen&Co includes the best of the best—porcelain dinnerware from Hermes, crystal stemware and accessories by Lobmeyr, cashmere blankets by Loro Piana, gold-plated silverware by Puiforcat, just to name a few.
To shop: kneenandco; 980 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 650, Chicago, IL 60611
Haitian-born Davidson Petit-Frère’s career in fashion didn’t start by graduating from a prestigious design school—in fact, his career didn’t start in fashion at all. Before becoming the go-to tailor of everyone from Jay Z to Michael B Jordan and pretty much the entire NBA, Petit-Frère was selling luxury homes.
But then he started sharing his eclectic style—which often consisted of impeccably tailored suits in bold prints or shades—on Instagram and soon enough, he garnered a following of a couple of hundred thousand. Then, after an apprenticeship with his tailor, he launched his first brand, and the rest is history.
Petit-Frere has a self-proclaimed “excessive focus on fit and fabrication” sourcing only the best fabrics from around the world.
Exit Shoes by Jeff Mandel
After a career in IT, Jeff Mandel became fascinated with shoemaking and followed his passion in Europe where he learned the craft in the Netherlands. Then he set up shop in Portland, Oregon, where his goal “is to continue the European tradition of making shoes for individuals based on their actual feet using the best available materials.”
And while he admits this is not a fast process (he explains his entire shoemaking process in a lengthy post here), he states on his website that “with proper care, your custom shoes will easily last 10 to 20 years.”
Mandel works only with vegetable-tanned leather that he purchases from Italy, and he takes his time to guide each client in choosing the appropriate heel height, toe shape, materials, and style. Prices start at $1,850.
To shop: 800 NW Sixth Ave, STE 207, Portland, OR 97209
George Nakashima Woodworkers
Those familiar with design and furniture history have surely heard the name George Nakashima before.
The visionary artist set up his woodworking shop in Pennsylvania during the 1940s where he rejected the fast-paced reality of modern architecture and design and, instead, devoted his life and work to an existence where nature took center stage. Nakashima believed that the imperfections of wood are marks of individuality that should be embraced not hidden.
After his death in 1990, his daughter Mira Nakashima took over the business and together with a team of craftsmen and designers continues to honor her father’s legacy to this day by creating one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted furniture at the company’s workshop in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
To shop: nakashimawoodworkers; 1847 Aquetong Rd, New Hope, PA 18938