One of the best parts of this business has been in getting to know our wonderful retailers across the country and around the world. We wanted to introduce you to some of our friends in this new blog feature, called “Meet & Greet”, which we’re kicking off here with California’s own Bixby & Ball.
Before we share our fun Q & A, first a bit of background:
Bixby & Ball is a result of the friendship and shared vision between the two founders, Melissa Anderson and Betsy Bracken, which began with their mutual passion for entrepreneurship, design, and improving the most sacred of living spaces—the home. Backed with ingenuity, determination, and a love for all things coastal classic, they have hand-selected their favorite elements of coastal living to create a one-stop shopping experience in the heart of Solana Beach’s charming Cedros Avenue Design District. Shoppers will find unique home décor and accessories, custom furniture, antiques and art, designer bedding and pillows, one-of-a-kind jewelry, luxurious bath and body products, fragrance and a variety of meaningful gifts for any special occasion. In addition to the thoughtful selection of products that Bixby & Ball has to offer in the store and online, they also offer full-scale customized interior design services and in-home styling.
Here we chat with Betsy.
1. Where did the name Bixby & Ball come from?
Bixby & Ball are two family names that hold significant meaning for each of us. The Bixby family, on Melissa’s side, developed a large part of California near Big Sur and the Ball family, on mine, produced the original mason jar out of Muncie, Indiana. Both of us have been deeply impacted by the incredible spirit of entrepreneurship in our families and felt inspired to create something of our own to honor the value of hard work and giving back to the community, which have been instilled in the two of us for generations.
2. What was the design aesthetic you had in mind for your store?
We wanted to offer a coastal design aesthetic without spelling it out in seashells and anchors — think Coastal Living Magazine with a nod to the nautical. Here we are near the beach and yet before we opened, there really wasn’t anywhere offering this aesthetic, so we definitely felt there was a niche we could fill. And our location is unique in that we’re housed in the first cottage built on Cedros Avenue in the 1920′s, so we wanted to create an experience for our customers that felt less like visiting a store and more like coming home.
3. What’s your inspiration for the merchandise you sell?
We’re always inspired by the stories behind the products — we want to know who creates them, where they’re made and what makes them special. After all, if we don’t feel connected to the items we sell, how can we expect our customers to feel compelled to purchase them? We don’t want to fill our store with a bunch of stuff — we really strive to curate a thoughtful and cohesive collection of items we would put in our own homes (or already have!).
4. Are there any expansion plans on the horizon?
We’ve expanded about as much as we can in our quaint little cottage — we’ve expanded into the small storefront next door and moved our office space to open up more room for retail. Of course we’ve talked about opening up another location and you never know, you may see a Bixby & Ball pop up somewhere down the road, but right now we’re really focusing on growing our e-commerce and interior design services, while continuing to provide exceptional service to our brick and mortar customers.
5. How do you buy for your store, keeping your customers’ needs in mind?
Before we opened, we talked a lot about who our ideal customer would be and identified Diane Keaton’s character, Erica Barry, from the movie Something’s Gotta Give as our dream customer, so during our first buying trip to NYC we shopped for Erica. About a year ago (and again this past weekend!), Diane Keaton came into the store to shop and WOW, that was most definitely a full circle moment. But now that we’ve established a loyal customer base, we’ll think about specific customers as we’re buying and say to each other, “Do you think so-and-so would buy that?” And it’s so much fun when that specific customer comes in and goes straight for that item.
6. What are some of your favorite pieces in store right now?
Our antique European pine hutch, all of our colorful John Robsahw pillows and the new Linnea’s Lights Heirloom Tomato Candle — we can’t get enough of that scent!!
7. What drew you to Linnea’s Lights?
First and foremost, we absolutely LOVE the scents and packaging (especially the little box of matches enclosed with each candle!) and how the candles liquify as they burn so you get an even burn all the way down to the base of the wick. But we also were drawn to the line after discovering that it was created by a mother and daughter who take such great pride in the quality of their product. And certainly the Indiana connection makes Linnea’s Lights extra near and dear.
8. When it comes to candles, which scents do you tend to burn at work vs. at home? Do you differentiate between using a scent that has maybe more of a motivational kick for day and more of a wind-down essence to relax on weekends or evenings?
We each have our favorites and tend to burn those same scents at work and home, but for both of us it’s always Pumpkin from Labor Day to Thanksgiving!
9. What’s your favorite part about having your own store?
Oh so many things, but hearing customers say that it’s their favorite shop…it doesn’t get much better than that.
10. Favorite vacation destination?
Melissa’s is Mammoth, CA and mine is Leland, MI — both have very special meaning to our families and are the only places we feel we can truly unplug from it all.
11. Favorite neighborhood lunch spot?
Claire’s on Cedros for a casual working lunch and Las Olas on the beach if we’re in the mood to play hooky on a Friday afternoon and have a few margaritas.
Okay, time for the lightning round:
8 a.m. or 8 p.m.? 8 p.m.
Beach or mountains? Both
Beer or Wine? Wine
Cats or dogs? Dogs
Thanks so much for speaking with us, Betsy! And to our readers, we hope you enjoyed this peek at a wonderful boutique. Check out Bixby & Ball online or next time you’re in California!