I suppose that it started with Pippi Longstockings. She opened my eyes. Pippi taught me to be a “thing-finder”. I was born and raised in a small town in Ohio- I have been hunting for products ever since. The hunt has taken me to all kinds of places. I followed my late husband, Foster, to Belgium. On the first day in the country I stumbled upon the ‘Palace de Juex de Balle’ with its assorted antiques and brocante. I felt at home since I had been buying and selling antiques since I was eleven. In fact, I still have the first piece of furniture that I purchased. It is holding paint cans in the garage and I smile each time I open it.
Paint is another story and constant in my life. I am at my happiest when I know a wall is changing color. My best friend Toni, reminded me that Foster once scolded me with “Jill, you need to put down that paint chart and come back to earth”. My favorite palette now is Agnes Emery’s. Her ‘terre juane’ triumphed for the exterior trim color of Brown. Homes and houses have been a constant theme in my life.
My mother loved antiques and my father grumbled more than once about having to truck home an irresistible auction purchase. Mother always taught us to be different and to always keep our eyes peeled for the beauty around us. Dad gave me the courage to be an entrepreneur and to have a Mid-Century work ethic. At 83 years of age, he still works rings around men half his age. I am a nester and I think our homes are important. When we took off for Belgium, I negotiated a “decorating budget” and spent most of it on linen draperies that are now in their fourth home. They just puddle more or less with each move. I do not have the heart to alter the work of the Belgian ateliers. Two of the heavier pair that had no grosgrain trim are becoming a bedspread as we speak. A Belgian friend once called me a “linen freak”. I still am.
Belgium is where I became a real “thing-finder”. I love that little country. We spent four wonderfully happy years there. I started the “light thing” in 1987 when we built our first home. I was surprised to find out that the recessed lights, fans, switches, and even the doorbell comprised that so-called “lighting budget”. So, I chose the single chandelier quite carefully. Later, I added a special chandelier or a pair of sconces, as I found them. I would rather have a pair of sconces than a pair of shoes, or a wonderful chandelier than a handbag. My lights have traveled with me from house to house and country to country. One dining room chandelier was featured in a “House Beautiful- kitchen of the month”. My sons found that amusing—one of them missed it and the other said, “Mom, I never did like that”. It was news to me! The shop is named Brown because that is our name. I also like the name and the color. I prefer simple, straight forward names and concepts, so it just seemed right. We have a lot of fun with the color in the store. The events at the shop feature brownies made from scratch (Ina Garten from the Lee Bailey dessert book) and we have “buckeyes” that my son, John, makes when he is in town. My grandmother always made them. Ohioan's understand.
I was blessed to always be able to be a pioneer during my career as a buyer for national department stores- I adored creating new categories and departments. That is still what I love doing.
Brown is an antique and design store with the things that I love. I love useful, practical, and beautiful products. I try to stock my shop with those things that are timeless and classic. Brown is all about the mix. It is what feels right. It changes all the time. No one will ever see a “new shipment banner” out front. New goods arrive each week. For better or worse, Brown is the person’s point of view.
Stop in and visit often, I think you will be surprised with each visit.