Some may say it was serendipity that the spot where Brooklynbased entrepreneur and designer Caitlin Mociun originally decided to open her boutique fell through. A couple days later, she found the ideal location on the corner of North 4th Street at Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg.
“It felt like the perfect kind of space that I wanted,” says Moicun of the interior that she describes as a “contemporary tangent on Bauhaus aesthetics.” “I didn’t want an old space. I didn’t want it to look like a typical Brooklyn store with the pressed-in ceiling and the bricks. I wanted a new space.”
The Rhode Island School of Design graduate had a few successful trial runs in retail via pop-up shops and an e-commerce site before deciding to open a permanent boutique. Mociun (pronounced mo-shun), which opened in March of 2012, can’t be pigeonholed into one category. Its inventory consists of housewares, art, beauty products, jewelry, fabric, handbags and more. It can be considered a lifestyle boutique in a broad sense that carries a selection of items representing Mociun’s artfully inclined yet practical taste.
“Firstly, I have to be aesthetically drawn to it,” says Mociun. “Then it’s really important to me that the object functions really well.”
Everything, aside from two pieces that hang on the back wall, is for sale in the store. Mociun’s feel can be described as a well-curated flea market meets art gallery. The designer is very particular about the items in her store. She prefers to stock goods that aren’t available elsewhere, so she often works with designers to produce items that are custom-made for the boutique. The products come from around the world—vintage 1960s rugs originate from Morocco, wood pieces hail from Japan, and the U.S. items stem from New York to Seattle.
A row of various-colored Baggu drawstring bags and a white Eric Bonnin porcelain chain sculpture dangle from the railing of a ramp that stands at the store’s entryway. It leads to a wall of Rare Elements shampoo and conditioner (which Mociun raves about), products by Australian beauty brand Aesop, and richly scented olive-oil-based soaps handmade by Saipua.
Everything is laid out methodically—her dainty fine-jewelry designs sit under a glass window on display tables, elegant Santa Fe Stoneworks pocket knives are at the counter, cute ceramic spoons by Suzanne Sullivan rest side by side before three stacks of bowls nesting inside one another. A wall of tearsheets and a vinyl record from the latest edition of the publication United Field Collective is displayed on one side. Rolls of fabric with prints created by Mociun (she studied textile design) stand in another part.
The Williamsburg store also serves as a gathering place. Clients can meet with the designer there, and friends stop by to say hi. Its inviting feel also creates an ideal breeding ground for conversation with shoppers. “A lot of people are super interesting and have lots of information and stories, and I enjoy hearing that stuff and we have a lot of conversation,” says Mociun.
And how does the shop owner describe her customer? “Someone that’s definitely interested in things that are beautiful objects, that quality is really important to them, art and design are important to them,” says Mociun. “I feel like there has to be this certain curiosity, a love of having an experience.”