Located just off Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, stepping into Grace & Favor is like taking a mini trip to Great Britain. Owner Andrea Brooke opened shop doors two years ago after leaving the “corporate world” of design and textile firms. Every nook and cranny of this shop is representative of Andrea’s roots. The walls are populated with artwork shipped over by her parents and stunning wallpaper that feels like it belongs in a Derbyshire countryside manor. Even the store’s namesake is a British term, referring to the residential property owned by The Crown and leased rent-free to a persons in gratitude for services rendered. And that’s really the attitude of Grace & Favor, you’re welcome to come by and stay awhile. Aside from a fun eclectic assortment of vintage furniture, you can browse through books, knickknacks, greeting cards and gift wrap. It’s impossible to leave Grace & Favor empty—and really, why would you?
Hi Andrea! Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and where do you currently live?
I’ve lived in Brooklyn for the last decade, but I’m originally from the UK. Gloucestershire and London to be specific.
What is the best thing about living in your neighborhood?
Williamsburg is unusual in that it is undergoing a huge transformation. My landlord rents an old commercial space to me. He can really tell some stories about the last 40 years since he has been here his whole life. I love the old/new mix, hopefully this is something that can be preserved as development continues.
You opened up your studio/shop a couple of years ago. What went into making that decision?
My first job was working for an antique dealer on the Pimlico Rd in London, then I went on to work for a decorator. I’ve always wanted to combine these two roles—and think it’s a useful environment for people furnishing apartments. I want to be a go to for basics like wallpaper and window shades, and then show how you can dress up a room with some well chosen vintage pieces.
There are several vintage shops in the area. How do you all work together?
We refer each other all the time! It’s great for the customer as we all have quite different inventory.
Have there been any surprises along the way in opening Grace & Favor?
Yes, I started with a handful of wallpaper books. People loved wallpaper and we quickly became a destination for it. Now we have over 1000 patterns to choose from!
You have a textile background. How did you get started in vintage furnishings?
Actually, I have 25 years in the ‘interiors’ field. I’ve worked for furniture, fabric and wallpaper companies, designers and antique dealers along the way. I wouldn’t have been able to put this together without this experience and some great bosses and mentors.
From where do you draw inspiration?
From a couple of my favorite British decorators; the late Geoffrey Bennison a great antique dealer and decorator, Chester Jones (who told me I have a good eye!) and contemporary designers Timorous Beasties whose collection I have in the shop. I also read the World of Interiors which really is the best magazine for interiors inspiration.
Do you have any favorite websites you like to visit?
Do you have any favorite memories of “treasure hunting” for vintage pieces?
Yes, frosty early morning starts in England going to the big antique fairs. Sometimes you come away with a great haul—sometimes not so great. It’s the thrill of the hunt.
Where do you go locally to discover hidden treasures?
Sometimes I wander over to see Anthony at Eclectic Collectibles. He always finds great stuff. I also love my neighbor’s finds at Brooklyn Reclamation and RePop they are always replenishing their inventory with unusual finds.
What’s the most rewarding thing about owning your own business? What’s the most challenging?
The freedom to make all your own decisions can’t be underrated. I’m still a one-woman show so the diversity of tasks from selling to bookkeeping to cleaning is sometimes challenging. I’d like to be able to focus on the things I’m good at and delegate the others. Maybe one day!
What is the best part about interacting with your customers?
This is the best part of all and the reason why I opened a shop! It has been said the British are a nation of shopkeepers. Who said that? Napoleon I think! I’m sure it was not meant as a compliment. Anyway it’s magic meeting people, chatting to them, finding out about their lives. I have a really diverse mix of clients from all over the tri-state and I’m so grateful for every one.