Vanessa Londono – Krrb Blog June 2015
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.
The Shopkeepers – April 2015
Grace & Favor
168 North 1st Street, Brooklyn
There is magic in the shop, says Andrea Brooke of Grace & Favor. British eccentric with a touch of Harry Potter is how she describes her interiors and home shop, which never fails to make her clients smile. The shop is at the same time charming and disarming, not unlike Andrea, a British expat, who lends authenticity to Grace & Favor. From the first time she wielded a paddle at Christie’s and Sotheby’s for a well known antique dealer on London’s Pimlico Road she knew she wanted her own shop.
Grace & Favor opened in 2013. A showcase for British home design; vintage furniture, wallpaper and textiles as well as smaller gift items that range from cards to candles, which are sourced from small British brands, and are exclusive to Grace & Favor. There is a riot of color and pattern in the shop living together harmoniously and comfortably. As everything in the shop is for sale, and inventory moves quickly, displays are constantly evolving tableaux. The vintage furniture is good quality and well sourced, in the US, which keeps the prices competitive. Grace & Favor’s wallpaper assortment is in huge demand, growing from four wallpaper books in 2013 to a dedicated area housing forty books, of which three lines are exclusive to Grace & Favor. It is Andrea’s wonderful insight and depth of knowledge in her field that is most invaluable. She gives ‘gentle’ advice, recommending trades people, and imparting color and paint direction. The people Andrea meets are her favorite aspect of being a shopkeeper. She loves making new connections and chats enthusiastically about everything for sale in the shop. Anyone shopping at Grace & Favor will agree there is magic in the shop, it’s Andrea.
Shop America: Brooklyn
House Beautiful – One of the Best 83 Shops in America
The neighborhood that spawned the word hipster has grown up. Williamsburg is still a place for experimentation, but that exists alongside a strong DIY ethos and a highly informed, of-the-moment aesthetic. Once desolate, the streets are now brimming with a range of distinctive independent shops.
By Melinda Page
A paean to British style and one of the only places in the U.S. to find Repeat Repeat bone china, decoupaged trays by Bridie Hall, and Andrew Martin wallpapers. (They also stock Cole & Son and Designers Guild.) 168 N. First St., 347-799-2941, gracefavor.com.
New York Cottages & Gardens
Featuring our Knitted Pillows from Seven Gauge
The New York Times
Furnishing a home in quintessential British style doesn’t require a trip across the Atlantic. In a neighborhood better known for its American hipster aesthetic, this housewares store proudly promotes all things English, from furniture, chandeliers and Union Jack pillows to D.R. Harris porcelain soap dishes made in Stoke-on-Trent.
Daily Mail June 2014
Disclaimer: TravelMail cannot be responsible for any damage to your bank balance should you happen to visit the boutiques here listed. But if you do aspire to dress like the model types drifting around the waterfront high rises in Margiela and Marant, then Bird is your destination. Just a few doors along on North 1st is a relatively new local treasure – Grace & Favor – where British-themed vintage finds nestle among cool candles, cushions and cards.
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Imagine that these count among your favorite things: animal skins, purple textiles, old chipped china. Adorn your house in this eclectic style, and now you’re following the principles of British design, which hold firm to a single decree: When it comes to décor, there are no rules. “The residence of a relatively affluent 19th-century Victorian would have featured fabric from India, lighting from France, Turkish rugs, Irish linen, and Hungarian glass,” explains Andrea Brooks, owner of Williamsburg’s newest home shop, Grace & Favor.
The Story Behind the Name
“Grace and favor” is an old British term (naturally) for a residential property owned by the reigning monarch and leased rent-free to an individual, in gratitude for service rendered. Prime Minister David Cameron, for example, lives in a grace and favor mansion at 10 Downing Street, from which Queen Elizabeth could evict him at any time. “I just think the words are lovely together,” says Brooks. “It’s wonderful to think of filling your home with grace and favor.”
168 No. 1st Street
Zagat Guide Our Summary Review
Gloucestershire-native and interior design maven Andrea Brooke merges the spirit of eccentric old English manor houses with newfangled UK concepts at her home furnishings shop in Williamsburg. Anglophiles can kit out their pads with reclaimed wood dining tables, tufted wingback chairs and estate-sale finds like mirrors and trunks or add a dash of Brit wit with bone-china teapots, D.R. Harris toiletries and Union Jack pillows.
Time Out ‘Store of the Week’ November 2013
FEATURE: AN ENGLISH-WOMAN IN NYC
Me and Mark (Laura told me to put Mark and I, but I thought it made me sound pretentious so declined) recently went to New York as a preliminary trip for our first trade show in the US. We did a lot of wandering, a bit of sightseeing and some more wandering. We found our way to Williamsburg in Brooklyn as we’d heard it was probably going to be the best area for our type of product, we knew we had a stockist nearby, we weren’t sure where it was though, while having this conversation and wandering some more we found it!
The shop is Grace and Favor (not Favour, apparently the name was under a lot of debate, it’s truely a British shop in America, but the Americanism seemed necessary). We snook in, unassuming to see if we could spot our cards, and got chatting to the lovely lady behind the desk. Unfortunately this wasn’t the lovely lady who placed the order with us originally, however Andrea Brooke (the lovely lady who had) quickly popped in, issued some hugs and offered us a cup of proper tea (much needed).
We got on like a house on fire, talked shop, talked plans for America and we’re looking forward to seeing her at the National Stationery show when we go to New York in a few weeks again.
We loved her story, so asked her to answer some questions for our blog, as our first American stockist it was a bit of a landmark.
Tell us about your shop and what makes it stand out from the rest?
I set it up for a neighborhood that has a rapidly expanding residential community who want original and beautiful things for their homes. It is unique as the only Design Store representing British Designers and Artists.
How long have you lived in Brooklyn and what made you move there?
8 years – I came to the USA with a British Design company – met my lovely American husband and stayed! For the last 6 years I have been running a luxury textile company called Brunschwig & Fils in Manhattan
Has running your own shop always been a dream of yours?
Yes ever since I was 21 working for an antique dealer on the Pimlico Road. It’s taken me over 20 years to do it.
Did you have to overcome any challenges in starting your own shop in America?
Lots! Money, high rents in this very popular neighbourhood, learning all the regulations for a small business.
What’s your favourite thing that you sell in your shop?
Rude cards by Ohh Deer – they always make people laugh! I’m not just saying that! They always get people talking 🙂
Someone is planning on visiting New York for the first time, what advice would you offer them?
Do a 2 center trip – stay a few days in Manhattan, do the major sites then hop over to Brooklyn for a few days – there’s so much to explore.
What do you miss most about the UK?
The weather and the newspapers.
You recently got recognition in an american magazine, could you tell us more about that?
Yes! We were listed as ‘One of the 83 Best Shops in America’ by House Beautiful a well known interiors magazine. I have it open on the table all the time 🙂