The space definitely has a rustic vintage feel to it. Is there a certain aesthetic you try to adhere to?
M: Honestly, a lot of what we did at first came out of the fact we didn’t have any money. A lot of the way the store looked at first came from bringing in things we already owned. I’m a total Junker and picker. I go to flea markets, and this is just what I do. My whole thing is if I find something I love, I try and incorporate it into our house or our store, and that aesthetic goes along with who we are as people. Our store has a very masculine feel, but there’s enough women that work here that flower it up quite a bit, make it nice and it always smells really good.
Does that give it sort of a tomboy vibe?
M: You know the girls that work here, including my wife, are all sort of tomboys at heart they tend to wear military pants and shirts. That changes with the seasons, but overall it definitely has a masculine feel, but it's pretty cool to see a womens dress hanging on a pretty beat-up wall that’s been painted and has nail holes. There’s something really nice about that.
Carrie, is there anything you do to the interior to soften up and balance out the masculine aspect of it? Soften up the toughness and rugged vibe?
Carrie: Yeah, interestingly women are for some reason in tune with it, drawn to it, come during lunch breaks or after work, bring a bottle of wine, sit on the couch, and feel just as comfortable or even moreso than men. I think aesthetically, it's very asexual. We're pretty big on how a space smells equally to how it looks, so we spent a lot of time before we opened identifying the smell, and the smell we landed on is very... sensual. It's very sensual, so I think the smell of the building is very attractive to women.
There’s a very fine line between Imogene + Willie and Cracker Barrel. Honestly you can definitely overdo it.
Is there a certain fragrance that gives it that air that you guys use?
C: It’s a candle from LA made by Ron Robinson called "Soul," but the notes are really interesting.
M: It says, “An intimate room, alive with energy. Piano, bass and percussion accompany a warm, sensual voice. Soul resonates in the air. A smooth combo of African ginger, rich mahogany, deep taboti wood.”
C: Customers and friends are always dropping off fresh rosemary from their garden or forsythia when it blooms, or we always have something from outside that tends to give a more feminine feel. The atmosphere is what it is because mostly of the just the hospitality that's in it. It's more about the people in the store than the decoration in the store.
What are your favorite pieces of the interior of the store?
M: I think I speak for both us when I say the leather couch. It came out of Carrie's dad's office, and we both have had plenty of meetings on that couch. I think I was even sitting on that couch when I asked her dad if I could marry his daughter — a lot of sentimental things. It's one of those things that's got years and years of wear and scuffing. It's pretty awesome.
C: I would mention three other pieces: there’s an 8x10 picture of Imogene + Willie from when he was in the military . I think he was home from Germany and they got a family picture made, and that’s always floating around somewhere in the store. People always pick it up and ask who it is, and that’s very sentimental. There’s a huge sign on that Matt's uncle found, and it was the first big big installation piece we got for the store, and we also love our scoreboard. In the town we grew up in, there were 12 county elementary schools, and it's exactly the same scoreboard. It's really rich. Some of the lights still work and its lovely.
Do you guys use it to tally scores for anything?
M: I wish.
C: We put a point up every time we sell a jean.
M: That’d be awesome.
How would you personally describe the vibe of the interior design of the space?
M: It’s funny to see people come in that may not know what we do here, and they do this whirlwind twirl at the front door. There’s just so much to look at and so much to see, and we put a lot of emphasis on changing the store around so it doesn’t become stagnant — one of my most favorite things in the world to do is to change it up, keep it fresh, and move things around so I think people leave thinking: "wow, that is not what I expected."
C: Based on emails that we get from customers, the space inspires people to do something on their own and to me that’s everything. For some reason it has this energy in it that just gives people inspiration for people to do what they dream to do.
Any quick interior design tips for anyone looking to transport the vibe of Imogene + Willie into their personal lives via their office apartment or house?
M: Yeah I think there’s a very fine line between Imogene + Willie and Cracker Barrel. Honestly you can definitely overdo it. I have no background in design, I just know what I like, and I remember the first time I saw Carrie's house before we ever dated and I was like: "wow, that’s so amazing." She has such great taste, and we didn’t have the money to buy things like a Ralph Lauren store would, so it was really important for us to try and figure out ways to incorporate new things and put them next to old things. Our mottp from the very beginning is "old and new," and how to incorporate both of those things so they both looked equally loved.
C: It's old meets new, east meets west, and shiny lacquer meets old wood — pretty much everything we do runs through that filter.