I’m not really sure how I discovered Berte, Aimée deSimone’s brilliant shop of modern handmade and well-made goods. What I do remember is spending over an hour going through her shop and marveling at her curation skills and the incredible goods on display. I featured Aimée in this week’s Design Digest but wanted to spend some real time getting to know this gifted shopowner better. Enjoy the interview and then head over to Berte and stock up! Which item is your favorite? Have any questions for Aimée ? Let us know in the comments below.
How do you find artists and makers to feature?
Oh gee, so many ways. I’ve spent about a decade working as a television producer, so I’ve traveled A LOT for work (and for fun!). But whenever I’ve had down time between shoots I’d always seek out local shops and markets, looking for some special treasures to bring home. The excitement of exploring a new city and finding local designers/makers that no one knows was just the most amazing feeling to me. Outside of actually hopping on a plane, I’ve found a lot of makers and artists at trade shows – Shoppe Object is my new favorite – and of course Instagram, Pinterest and blog deep dives. I honestly live for falling down that cyber rabbit hole.
You have such a great eye for well-made and well-designed product. What’s your design background?
Wow thank you so much. This is really the highest compliment to me as I don’t have a design background (gasp!). My background is largely focused on documentary production, so I guess that’s trained me to look at things a bit more globally…like, how does everything work together? Does it all make sense? That kind of thing. The shop’s mission is to introduce customers to goods that elicit a sense of pause, and help you live a bit more presently. So I keep that in mind as well when I source products.
I’ve also spent a lot of trial and error figuring out my own personal aesthetic – clean lines, pops of warm colors, an overall soothing feeling. And because of my background, I tend to focus on the story just as much as the design. Who is the artist? Why do they make what they make? Does it fill a need? Is it ethically made? Answering these questions, along with “if I were a customer, would this intrigue me?” is all very important. I guess you could also say, I’m a bit of a fangirl when it comes to local makers and designers, so I just let that lead the way.
Born out of a burnout, Berte was fully realized after a decade long career in the production industry. Frequent travel, constant stress and many restless nights, made it clear that a change was needed. Cue that scary question….what do I want? Well, I wanted my brain back. I wanted my time back. I wanted to feel like the moments I was rushing through, were mine again. So I looked inward and realized that surrounding my home and my life with beautiful, carefully made things slowed me down and helped me appreciate my little world. From there, Berte just continued to evolve and take shape.
Your site is built on Shopify and is probably one of the best I’ve ever seen. What led you to Shopify? Who designed your shop?
I’m a research fanatic, so choosing Shopify wasn’t some flippant decision by any means. I talked to other shop owners, read a lot of blogs, and ultimately came to the conclusion that Shopify was the best platform for an e-commerce shop like Berte. It was also important that the platform could support e-commerce and in person purchases, since I knew pop up shops would be a major part of my business. The credit for the web design goes to the incredible KELSEY LIM! She did the branding, web design, and the art direction for our incredible photos shot by the impeccable Alexandra Rowley. [Fun fact: Kelsey is also the jewelry designer behind Abel Objects, which we carry in the shop!]. Berte would be nothing without these two incredible women!
Can you highlight some of your favorite products?
Ahh, this is always so tough and it changes all the time. I guess I’d go with the following:
Palermo Body’s Tranquility Aromatherapy Oil – I’ve been using this whenever I get a bit stressy. The scent of lavender always seems to calm me down.
Anemone Eau de Parfum – Alternatively, when I’m heading out I love spritzing this new perfume we carry by Blackbird. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever smelled before, subtle warmth and floral notes. There’s no way I could do it justice describing it. You have to smell it, to love it.
Peach Dew Incense Holder – one of my favorite ceramicists Elana Noy of Malka Dina collaborated with us on this exclusive incense holder. I adore her work and incense, so it was fun combining these to loves to create something unique for the shop.
Wonder Stone Earrings – another exclusive collaboration, but with Salt Lake City based jewelry designer Sarah Safavi. I was living in Salt Lake City for a month covering a story years ago, so that city will always have a special place in my heart. I think these earrings perfectly encapsulate the beauty of Utah.
Dusty Pink Clutch – this clutch by Primecut is a trip. It’s so out there and flamboyant. I just can’t wait to meet the person bold enough to take it home. It’s so flirty and daring. Gah, it just makes me happy.
Abstract Oat Throw – this new throw by Minna is incredibly cozy. But it’s the fun, abstract shapes (that are hand felted by a women’s cooperative in Uruguay!), that give me all those silly, joyful feels.
You’ve done some pop-ups last year. Any happening this year?
Of course! I love doing pop ups at Brooklyn Flea, and I’ll be back on April 21st in Dumbo. I also have a pop up with FAD Market for NYCxDesign May 11-12 at the Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn. I’ve heard amazing things about FAD, so I’m super excited about that one. And then since I’m living in the Hudson Valley I’ll be popping up with Phoenicia Flea this summer – stoked about that as well! And I have a pop up planned in August with Workshop Workshop, a new studio founded by local Hudson Valley ceramist, Alexis Tellefsen, and her partner Andrew Whiteman. Obviously, I love pop ups and I’m sure I’ll have even more planned for the fall/winter!
What does the future hold for Berte?
I think hands down, I want to open a storefront. I want to create a space where people can shop for thoughtfully made goods, but also have a place to chill and just be themselves. I just moved to Beacon, NY in the Hudson Valley, which has an adorable Main Street. So it would be amazing to both live and run a small business in a town that I’m just falling more and more in love with every day. Outside of that, I think it’s just so important not to put any limits on a business when it’s so young. So who really knows what will happen next!