Small Business Profile: Alyssa Hoppe, Owner of Hoppe Shoppe - Brooklyn
Hi Alyssa! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am an art director and prop stylist and have been working to some capacity in the creative field for 14 years. Currently I live in Brooklyn, NY with my husband Paul, who too is a designer.
What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
My mom is a photographer, so was exposed to the creative field from a young age. I started assisting her at the age of 7. We didn't have a lot of money growing up and we lived in a rural dessert town in California so I was forced to be creative with how I spent my energy and time. I studied fine art with an emphasis in painting during college. After I graduated, started working with Anthropologie designing store displays. Worked with them for six years, traveling around opening stores and prototyping new display concepts each season. I also co-taught an after school art program for both dis-abled and abled bodied teenagers. After I left Antrhopologie, I started freelancing doing prop styling and art directing for editorial and lifestyle shoots as well as floral design for events and weddings.
What led you to begin Hoppe Shoppe?
I've always loved the hunt for unique treasures whether it be at thrift shops, flea markets, or independent design stores. As I started building up my collection of home goods for prop styling, I only felt natural to turn this hunt into a business. The first month has been great! I've gotten a lot of good response and feel really blessed that people are responding to it.
When/why did you decide to leave your corporate career and create something of your own?
Earlier this year I decided to not take any more freelance work to focus on getting the shop up. It had been something I was trying to get going on the side and I knew I needed to focus 100% of my time on in in order for it to come out the way I wanted it to.
How do you decide what items to carry in the shop? Do you travel to source them?
Originally I was thinking to just do a small Etsy store of vintage items I found, but as I started sourcing, I realized what's more true to the aesthetic is a balance between old and new, vintage and modern. So I first started reaching out to old co-workers from Anthro that had started making things and friends that were independent designers to buy wholesale from them. Then started sourcing though instagram, small craft fairs, larger trade shows, and oversees designers. I quickly realized that the vision was growing larger and needed to be a whole online store. Most of the vintage, one-of-a-kind pieces are from thrift stores, flea markets and estate sales both locally and while I've been traveling. My poor husband, every vacation turns into a buying trip and him helping me fit everything into our luggage.
You integrate storytelling with the shopping experience. Could you tell us more about where this idea stemmed from and why it was important for you to have on your store?
I wanted to create a unique way of shopping online. I really value the experience of shopping and the environment which stems from my background in visual store design. Since the store is all online, I was challenged in how to do this without being in a physical space. Storytelling through imagery and word felt unique. It was only natural to start by telling the stories of my Grandmothers who's lives really shaped who I am and my aesthetic.
What are some brands/makers that you are excited about that we should know of?
Ooo! So fun! This is my favorite part about what I do - Bringing exposure to independent makers and sharing why they are so great. First is Notary Ceramics, I feature them a lot through social media. Sarah Van Raden, the maker, is so talented. All of her work is so tastefully done, thoughtfully designed and well made. Another is Hamish Robertson who is a photographer from LA that I am going to be selling his prints soon!
How do you connect with your customers and community?
Honestly, still trying to figure it out. Through social media of course, but also, through the shipping and receiving experience by writing hand written thank you note with any tips about the product they have purchased. I am brainstorming right now how to engage more through either live short how to tutorials for home styling and product knowledge.
Why do you think it’s important to shop small and support local?
I think its important to support individuals who are taking a risk by starting something that they believe in and are passionate about.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
I believe the objects we own should tell a story - of our lives, where we traveled, why it is a necessity in our home. I get to help people make those stories and offer unique home items that have already started a story before they get to the individuals home.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you faced when starting your shop?
Oh man, so many. It took me almost two years to get it up an running. I struggled with trying to work on it while balancing other freelance jobs, I had a couple of health issues that put me on pause, and struggled with the insecurities that come along with believing what you do is important.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
It's so important - being vulnerable with other women, sharing in each others struggles and joys. I meet weekly with four woman who have come to be some of my dearest friends and supporters in New York. They have inspired and challenged me in my personal, creative and spiritual life (Gemma, Sarah and Diandra - You guys are the best.)
What tools or resources have been most helpful for you in creating/running your business?
I created by site with Squarespace and their live chat support team has been such a help. Their backend support connecting you to Shipstation is so great and makes shipping out orders so simple. I use Lightroom for capturing and shooting all images and it is great. Also, it made such a difference getting proper lighting equipment for shooting ecommerce shots.
How do you manage your time?
Everyday is different based on orders and new product coming in. Since I am a one-woman show I wear a lot of hats and am still figuring out how to balance it all. Currently, my studio is in my loft apartment which makes it easy to end up working all the time. Recently I have tried to make sure I shut the door by 6pm.
How do you deal with moments of self-doubt?
You just have to have faith. I've learned that the only person stopping me is my self so when I start to feel the doubt creeping in, I just take a deep breath or go for a walk.
What are some of your favorite places in Brooklyn?
I love walking around all the brownstone and tree-lined streets, grabbing coffee at Parlor, lunch at Colonia Verde, shopping at Primary Essentials, and the Bellocq Tea Room.