A few months ago, we had the chance to stop by Yellow House Collective‘s storefront in Greenpoint. After spending so much time drooling over their Krrb listings, seeing them in real life did not disappoint. While their stock is meticulously curated, everything is playfully arranged so that you feel like you’re walking through a stylish Mid-century cocktail party. Get to know the creative couple behind the company, Brandy and Sean Wen, and try to make it through the whole interview before leaving to add something to your picks.
Hi Brandy and Sean! Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and where do you currently live?
We are a husband and wife team and happy to call Greenpoint, Brooklyn our home. Brandy is originally from a small town in North Carolina and Sean from Hong Kong but spent a number of years in the Boston area. We both come from commercial production and digital content backgrounds and met while in the industry. Sean is still mostly on the production side, but Brandy’s transitioned more to the prop styling art world as well as managing our home furnishings studio.
What is the best thing about living in your neighborhood?
Greenpoint is an inspiring neighborhood with an eclectic mix of people. There is a strong entrepreneurial mindset and work ethic. It’s a place where you can work and play—you don’t have to leave the neighborhood if you don’t want to (and we often don’t!) because just about everything you could need is here.
What are your top places you go locally to discover hidden treasures?
At first we sourced the majority of our stuff from estate sales in the New York metro area. Recently we’ve been meeting and working with more vendors in the neighborhood and also scouting a number of things on Krrb.
Describe your personal decorating style.
We’d say happy modern with a heavy Mid-century modern influence. We like integrating existing vintage pieces with modern designer ones and try to source pieces that are timeless and versatile—that way we have endless possibilities for what we can do with them and re-use them over time.
Yellow House Collective is a cool name for a shop. Is there a story behind it?
You can’t find a happier color than yellow. Yellow is a royal color and signifies good luck according to Sean (which is a cool inclusion of his culture). We find goods we would love to have in our own home, so it’s certainly a collection over time. We also collaborate with artists (mostly local) on several levels, such as the cleared art rentals for advertising and entertainment. We kind of just together started thinking about what exactly our little company really meant. The logo is a little tribute to our ‘apartment 4b’—where it all began.
What blogs or websites do you visit regularly?
Krrb, Etsy, Apartment Therapy, Design*Sponge, and 1st Dibs (reality check!). Instagram is a really great tool and we love that we can see snippets of those and other independent designers work without taking too much time browsing. We also like to keep up with the current wedding décor trends so we’re always checking out their social media feeds as well.
How do you think your background in commercial production affects your selection process?
We have a bit of an advantage as often we are filming or shooting the upcoming trends. Throughout the years we’ve also learned in working with directors, art directors, and directors of photography in what looks best behind the lens—specific colors or shapes—and we take that into consideration when sourcing inventory. For example, a nice gray upholstery, clean lines, and a beautiful wood grain sometimes shines just as much as a crazy colorful fun patterned re-upholstery job (though, we DO love to do those too!)
Name your top 3 dream items you’d love to find.
Tough question! Everyone wants to find that ‘mint’ Eames chair for no money out of grandpa’s neighbor’s house, but we try not to stress about only finding those sort of iconic pieces. Really when it comes down to it, what’s important and makes a piece special for us is when we find an item that is in pristine original condition while still relevant to modern design—upholstery included.
We appreciate the dedication of caring for an item over many, many years. And, if it doesn’t need work done to it and will make someone very happy then we’ve hit the happy jackpot. We view each shopping trip as a new venture and the game is all about finding what’s meant to be yours and letting those ‘dream items’ rotate in and out of the wish list!
What’s the strangest item you’ve ever stumbled upon?
Between creepy dolls and odd sculptures (see above) we’ve certainly seen our fair share of strange items in our searches.
Have you ever found anything you’ve refused to sell or rent?
Outside of the general reason of it being in bad condition, or wanting to keep it for the personal collection we try to be pretty open as long as it’s cool home furnishings. Every once in a while we find things we really love and end up coming home with us (for at least a little while) like most recently, a Danish teak and green ‘rocker’ with ottoman. Our coffee table was also such a rare piece we HAD to keep it for ourselves… it turns into a dining table!
You also offer cleared art to appear in the media. What was your favorite piece to sell and where was it used?
We really focus on just rentals for the cleared art and work with over 20 amazing artists. It’s pretty impossible to pick a favorite as each person has their own distinct style. You can find the gallery at Rent Collective.
Everyone wants to find that ‘mint’ Eames chair for no money out of grandpa’s neighbor’s house, but we try not to stress about only finding those sort of iconic pieces.
From where do you draw inspiration?
Everywhere! It can come from as simple as the walk from our house to the studio. Conversation we have with friends or colleagues. We live in a community where the creative energy is thriving and we love being a part of it.
If you could only decorate with items from one TV or movie set, what would it be and why?
It’s kind of ironic that although we work in the industry we barely have time to actually watch television! Mad Men would be an obvious answer as it’s eye candy for us (we’ve got quite a bit of similar inventory already!) but we also love items from old movies with super ‘modern’ homes such as North by Northwest.
What’s the most rewarding thing about owning your own business? What’s the most challenging?
Most rewarding is loving what you do each day, getting to shop (a lot!) and setting your own schedule. Most challenging is spending all your money on the studio and working every day! It’s a good thing the rewards outweigh the challenges!
Finally, anything else you’d like us to know about you?
We are located in the historic Greenpoint Terminal Building on the 3rd floor and operate by appointment to view the inventory in our studio. If you’re in the building over the weekend, stop by the 3rd floor and chances are we’ll be there between 1pm and 5pm. And our Krrb corner is open 24/7!
Thanks Brandy and Sean!