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Discount {and Giveaway}: Inglenook Décor

Last week I had the opportunity to interview (via e-mail) Maureen, a fellow Texan and the owner of the newly launched Inglenook Décor, an online boutique that features both vintage and new home accessories that range from pillows and candle holders to classic artichoke finials and vintage jamming jars. Maureen also blogs regularly over at Ingle Talk, so be sure to check her out there as well for plenty of fresh ideas on design.

Odi et Amo: Tell me a little bit about yourself. What’s your design background? How did you get interested in design and in owning a home decor store?‬‪

Maureen: I'm from the Philippines and have been here in the US since 1995. I'm a bit ashamed to say that I really don't have a design background. But I do believe I have a good eye and I do a lot of design/decor research. I do plan to sign up for some courses though come fall (not really to get a full-fledged degree though). I remember even as a young child, trying to organize stuff at the house and I would get obsessive with the details -- turning picture frames the right way, straightening rugs, etc. I think as a child, my predilection was to use the right side of my mind (I drew and painted a lot...) but as I grew up, going to the medical field made better sense. I became interested in design and owning a store maybe about 2 years ago. I think all of us go through a stage of "finding yourself" and a feeling of dissatisfaction somehow as to the career path/life we are pursuing.

OetA: Is Inglenook Décor your full-time job? If not, what else do you do?‬‪

M: It is about to be my full-time job! I've been a physical therapist for 14 years, two of my college friends and I opened a private practice in Beaumont [Texas] in 2002. It's doing well and I've been preparing for my exit strategy for the last two years too! I'll still perform some administrative tasks, but I won't be there in the day-to-day operations. My partners and the whole staff has been very supportive. I'm so blessed!

OetA: How long did it take for Inglenook Décor to become a reality? What were some of the obstacles/hurdles you had to overcome in order to start up shop? Any advice for folks interested in starting up their own online business would be greatly appreciated I’m sure.‬‪

M: I guess, about two years. It could have been faster if I was pursuing it full-time. As far as advice for the online business....Gosh, I'm still learning and I'm certainly not a guru at this. But I guess, the time that I've spent so far, my advice is to be very, very picky with the website company or person you are thinking of making your e-shop. Sometimes, family and friends are not your best bet. They want to help you but if it's not their full-time job then their focus is not your website. Research and compare definitely. Don't feel bad to ask for references, check the Better Business Bureau, etc. Get one with 24/7 support. Believe me you'll need it in the wee hours of the morning.

OetA: Where did you get the idea for the name “Inglenook Décor”?‬‪

M: Ahhh, love this question. Inglenooks are built-in alcoves centered on a fireplace where friends and families gather. It's like the center of an old-fashioned cottage. Just like what this built-in alcove represents, I believe homes should provide warmth and should be a place of refuge from the outside world and a reflection of our own personal style and taste.

OetA: Where do you get your merchandise? What do you look for when you’re out shopping for the store? Is there an archetypal customer you have in mind when shopping?‬

I started subscribing to trade magazines, I've checked importers from my country and have gone to several markets in the US. Of course, antique and flea market shopping. This can be tricky, you have to separate the trash from real great finds. A little self-serving but some of it, I kept for me.... As for my archetypal customer? Highly independent, confident and creative individuals that thrive on making all of their choices definitely unique and their own. I picture them as sophisticated men and women who totally agrees with one of Coco Chanel's famous quote: "An interior is the natural projection of one's soul." A little frivolous for these times perhaps, but they realize that a beautiful surrounding inspires.

OetA: What is your favorite item or items in the store?‬‪

M: I'm a little biased with this one as I love them all! Ok, I'll give you my top 5: the bird taper candelabra, the shoe forms candle holders, the black floral in beige pillow, the vaillanvourt bonbons tray from Montreal and the travel trug (it states" Paris, London, Rome..." -- ahhhh i love traveling!). [OetA Note: The travel trug is my favorite, too!]

OetA: I love the decorating tips and ideas featured on your website. Any other fail-safe tips for accessorizing a room that you’d like to share?‬‪

M: Very cool, a lot of people have commented positively on this feature. I do plan to keep it updated. Maybe once or twice a month. I do have the "decorating tip of the week" updated weekly of course at the homepage. I guess my other tip will be what's featured this week, to be creative & see your home decor items in a totally different way. I do have a small plate that holds some of my jewelry, it's just so cute to look at at my bedside table.

OetA: What’s next? Where would you like to see Inglenook Décor in six months? A year? Any plans for a brick-and-mortar store?‬‪‬‪

M: I do plan to open a storefront. I don't want to jinx the plans, but it's something I'm definitely working on slowly but surely. Maybe the economy and retail negativity has slowed my plans some but not entirely. There's a movement that's pushing people to shop locally and independently and a lot of big box stores are losing out because they're way too big, with unedited selections and poor customer service. The Inglenook Decor [store front] would definitely focus on what's most important: quality of [both] service and merchandise.

To celebrate the e-store's recent launch, Maureen has graciously extended a 15% discount on all merchandise to Odi et Amo readers. To take advantage of this great offer, simply enter "Te Amo" at check-out. This offer will be available until Monday, August 10.

In addition, I'll be giving away one beaker vase (shown above) in the reader's choice of color (I'm partial to the fuchsia myself). To enter, simply leave a comment here and I'll randomly select one winner on Friday, July 31.

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