Red Hook Cleans Up
Annie Block, Mark McMenamin, and Meghan Edwards -- Interior Design, 9/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
While its handmade olive-oil soap was flying off shelves nationwide, Saipua harbored a dirty little secret at home in Red Hook, Brooklyn: the company's own cramped boutique. So the two owners resolved to redouble their commitment to their emerging, postindustrial neighborhood and shift production from upstate to an 800-square-foot warehouse that could be split between a small soap workshop and a relocated shop. (Co-owner Sarah Ryhanen has Finnish parents, and saippua, with an extra p, means soap.)
A longtime friend, Tacklebox principal Jeremy Barbour, seized upon the dichotomies between selling and making, quietness and activity. Silver-stained pine siding, reclaimed from an 1890 Shaker barn, frames the warehouse entry and wraps inside the 700-square-foot boutique—which sells flowers, too—to form a rustic backdrop for seasonal bouquets and changing vignettes of found objects, also for sale. Niches in the walls offer packaged soap, while freshly hand-cut bars air-dry in the workshop behind. "It fosters an immediate connection with customers," Barbour says. And that's before they hit the shower.