BEHIND THE BIZ // Bowerbird on Argyle
The Bowerbird experience literally starts at the front door when you push the shiny circular handles of the striking bright blue and black double doors and leave your busy life behind.
When you step inside, you are in another (quiet and beautiful) world. The lighting is calm, the music is soothing, the space has amazing energy and is filled with unique, beautiful items whose primary reason for existing is to bring you joy.
A feast for the eyes, ears and nose (they fire up their yummy candles too!), this relaxing retail experience is the brainchild of owner, Karen Edwards.
We caught up with Karen and Bowerbird's design assistant, Nancy Palfrey to find out more about how this amazing space came together and what’s next on the super-stylish horizon for Bowerbird on Argyle in Moss Vale.
For Karen, her love of styling and design started with her father.
“My father was a big influence in my life. He was a builder and as he would get to the fit out and interiors stage, I would offer suggestions on paint colours, tiling, kitchen design, that sort of thing,” she recalls.
“I had a natural eye for it and because of my Dad, always had an interest in buildings, architecture and styling.”
Travel has also influenced Karen’s design ethos.
“From the beautiful essence and moodiness of German castles to the stunning facades of homes in Boston to the amazing US stores of designer, Jonathon Adler, travel has played a big part in the selection of what we sell and how we’ve styled Bowerbird on Argyle,” Karen says.
After creating a successful pop-up space at Mitchell Road Antique & Design Centre in Alexandria, where Set Designers for film shoots would regularly come to Karen to buy and hire props for movie sets, it was a gentle nudge from husband, Neil that prompted Karen to open Bowerbird on Argyle in Moss Vale.
“Having my own store was always in the back of my mind and after we moved to the Highlands in 2015, I started to look around for a space to lease,” Karen explains.
“I was looking at a small shop in Bowral when Neil told me to jump in the car because we’re going for a drive! We ended up in Moss Vale out the front of this space we have now.”
“I knew Karen was playing small because she was nervous and apprehensive, but I also knew she needed a nice big space to play with,” Neil says.
Karen readily agrees.
“Neil could see the bigger picture and he had confidence in me. He knew I just had to take that step and that I needed the right space to do that.”
Neil and Karen got to work transforming what was a shell of a building with broken lino on the floor, no internal walls and damage from a flood, into the feast for the eyes Bowerbird on Argyle is now.
Initially, Karen shared the space with other vendors and stallholders who all had their own nooks, but as she built her confidence and customer base up, the retail offering extended to focus just on Bowerbird products.
“I loved having the other stallholders, but through natural attrition as their lives, products and businesses changed and as our offering began to change, we ended up with a 100% focus on what we were doing,” Karen explains.
Part of that re-focus is the introduction of Bowerbird on Argyle’s Interior Styling Service – for residential, commercial, renovations, staging homes for sale, holiday homes, offices and more.
“We love working within people’s homes and spaces, and want to make interior styling accessible for everyone,” says, Nancy, who joined the Bowerbird team in 2019.
“It’s not about chucking everything out and telling people to start from scratch. We have clients who might have a beautiful piece like their grandfather’s dresser.They don’t want to change the dresser, but they don’t know how to use it in their space.”
“That’s where we come in. We’ll introduce other elements from Bowerbird or from their own home that modernises the beautiful piece of furniture they are attached to, and freshens it up.”
Karen and Nancy offer colour, wallpaper and art mural consults. They can also source furniture, art and décor from their extensive list of contacts thanks to Karen’s amazing network she has built up in Australia and overseas.
“Many people are building new homes here at the moment and don’t know where to start with adding character into a new home,” says Karen.
“People will hide things in cupboards or garages or sheds because they don’t know where to put it. They’re worried about doing the wrong thing, so they don’t do anything. We help give those items new life which then injects your personality into your home.”
“Combining the old with the new, the fun with the functional and using eclectic pieces creates such interest and for Nancy and I, is easy to do!”
Nancy’s marketing background and interest in the digital world has come in handy and the team have built a beautiful online store.
“We get a lot of orders from people interstate or in Sydney that have come to visit us and then want to keep buying from us once they’re back at home, so we wanted to cater to them and also locals who don’t feel comfortable getting out and about just yet, or just like the convenience of buying online,” says Nancy.
And of course, the unique ambience of Bowerbird on Argyle's stunning space on Argyle Street is what keeps locals and visitors stepping through the beautiful double doors!
“It’s so important we create something special for our locals who come back time and again. We’ve had barely any tourists visiting the store in the past six months because of the bushfires and COVID-19, so it’s been the amazing locals coming in, knowing they can experience something special and get something special from us that is helping us get through this," Karen says.
As for what’s coming up in the future, the team at Bowerbird on Argyle are continuing to add gorgeous products to the online store, share their talents and experience with the Bowerbird Interior Styling Service and of course, keep creating the beautiful and relaxing shopping experience this gorgeous space in Mossy is so well known for now.
“We have items in here you would never think of getting for someone or for yourself, until you get here!” Nancy says.
“Our customers often say to us, ‘I came in here to get something for someone else but I’m just going to get this for myself too’. We love that!” says Karen.
“We just want to keep creating joy for people through what we do.”
Oh, and if you’re lucky you’ll run into Karen’s Mum, Magda. She is THE BEST person to have a chat to! We loved our chat about karma, positivity and joy with this beautiful woman. It’s no wonder Karen’s vision and energy is so joyful and peaceful.
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