Monday, July 25, 2011

Retreat

One of the things I want for this blog is to share the stories of the awesome people who are in this business of "old stuff". As I visit shows and stores I often wonder, “Who are the people behind all this awesome junk?  How did they get started in this business and what makes them tick?”  I am hoping that you are as curious as I am.

My first feature is of Bob and Deb Kennedy, the awesome duo behind Retreat.


I first came across their awesome style a couple of years ago when I visited a store, Faded Elegance, where they had a space in downtown Snohomish. I was so in love with their approach to vintage materials. They would take things and re-purpose things in such a unique way.


I actually was so inspired by their designs that I picked a little pack of vintage goodies they were selling and created a bunch of decorations to use for Valentine's Day. Ok, so that was the day I was hooked!

I have been collecting vintage finds ever since and following Bob and Deb from show to show around the state and now to their own amazing events at their property on Camano Island.



Here are some questions I asked Deb so we could all get to know them better and among the questions I will be posting photos I took of Bob and Deb on and around their people home, property and island they live on as well as some photos I snapped of their home while we visited. 

How did Retreat get started?

Our business has truly grown out of our own lifestyle… we have always decorated our homes with vintage, reclaimed, thrift and garage sale finds, as well as original pieces handcrafted by Bob. Affordability and personal expression are the main reasons we chose this way of decorating… even as teenage newlyweds, we preferred to shop at swap meets rather than furniture stores! Over the years, our style has evolved and many items ended up in storage.
Deb has been a retail visual designer & stylist for over 30 years, and her stash of props had grown to epic proportions!  We decided to sell those treasures in a way that would inspire people to see that decorating with ‘used’ goods could still be very stylish. So we started selling our hand painted furniture at street markets and craft boutiques in Washington. Every show, we’d hear ‘Where’s your store?’, and we decided that we needed a store, and opened a small shop in Snohomish in 1995, selling our brightly-colored painted furniture (we sourced both used and new unfinished pieces) and our own original products. We also created custom pieces and murals for our customers, and to be honest we eventually just burned ourselves out doing too much. We closed our store in 1998, and returned to ‘regular’ employment in the construction and retail fields. We immediately began to put together a plan to build a business that really reflected US and our own style… but it took almost ten years for it to come to fruition!

Our debut in the vintage industry came when we rented a space at Faded Elegance Antiques in November of 2007, where we sold our ‘new’ style of restyled furniture & décor. The response to our seasonally-inspired collections was remarkable! The first vintage show we participated in as vendors was Farm Chicks 2008, where we discovered what a fabulous group of people inhabit this ‘world’.  We were on our way…


Define your style and brand?

Retreat Style is built around one premise, which is also our tagline:

Your home should be your Retreat. We can help you create it”.

We don’t think anyone should have to wait for those two weeks a year when they take a vacation to their favorite place in order to feel relaxed, comfortable, and able to connect with the people and things that are most important to them.



We believe that should happen every day. To that end, we want to inspire people to decorate their homes to reflect those ‘happy places’ – if you love the beach, use colors and textures that evoke the seaside, so that your rooms make you smile every time you walk into them.



Our products and displays show people how easy it is to create rooms and homes that will nurture them, and restore them just like a great vacation retreat does!

Since we took photos of you and Bob together and you are a partnership in life and business, tell your fans a little about how you met and fell in love and anything else you would like people to know about you both?


Way back in 1979, when we were in high school, Bob overheard Deb chatting with another cashier at work about a beach party she was going to, and he decided to crash it. Our love affair began that night at Huntington Beach, California, and has continued for 32 years!








We married after graduation in 1980, and we have four adult children and three grandsons. Two daughters and their families, including two of our grandsons, live nearby. Another daughter and our son and their families, including one grandson, live in San Antonio, Texas. [Yes, that’s hard!] Each of our ‘kids’ is creative in their own way, and we love watching their style develop!

We’ve lived in California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, and Washington, and decorated our homes in at least six different  décor styles – from using orange crates and the picnic table Bob built in seventh grade in our first apartment’s dining room, to the dark colors of Adirondack style in our Tahoe home, to the current ‘sun-and-sand’ hues in our home on an island in Washington state.



If you could go back in time and live for 10 years in any time period what would it be and why?
We’re divided on this one… Bob was once REALLY into the Mountain Man historical re-enactments, so he’d choose to live in the 1800’s in the undiscovered Northwest. Deb has always swooned over the lifestyle of the deep South prior to the Civil War, so she’d want to live in elegant Savannah in the early 1800’s. We doubt if we’d ever have met if we lived back then!!!

What inspires you?
Seasons and locations tend to bring out our creativity… we ask questions like “How can we capture the feeling of this place, and take it home so we can enjoy it all the time?” That leads us to discover materials, textures, and details that we can design with or around, resulting in furniture and décor that reflect the renewable inspiration of nature’s beauty.  We’ve been lucky to have lived in beautiful places like Lake Tahoe, Lake Arrowhead, Donner Lake (are you sensing a theme here?!), and now an island, where we have found unlimited inspiration… but we’ve also lived in very un-inspiring places!

If we unearth an unusual or intricate bit of woodwork or metal work on an item, it can take us in a new direction with the products we are designing…. just one detail can spark a whole collection. Several of our products for this year were designed after we located a load of church pews and other salvage that tied into the idea of faith.
Which brings us to our ‘Retreat Revival’ theme for the 2011 show season…

You could say that we were facing the death of our business following Bob’s accident & surgery last fall, and yet blessings and miracles were poured out on us in such measure that we were effectively resurrected to a new life. Our ‘Retreat Revival’ theme grew from our gratefulness to God for carrying us through such a difficult period, and the graciousness of many helping hands that allows us to continue on with our vision of what Retreat will be in the future. That’s what inspired us. Some people didn’t get it, and that’s ok. Others were inspired to have faith through their own difficulties because of what we shared about ourselves, and that makes it all worthwhile.

What's your favorite movie or book?
One of our favorite movies is ‘Joe versus the Volcano’. Lots of great inspiration to live your dreams and take big risks in that one, along with some great lines that we tend to repeat in everyday conversation ;0) It’s a family thing – we quote a LOT of movie lines!
Any last thoughts?

Retreat is really 100% us… it’s our everyday life AND the way we make an income, not something that is separate. We love sharing ideas and decor with customers, helping them to create rooms that will let them live the lives they want. We love hosting a show at our home, filled with vendors who are friends and who support one another. This is not about selling products all the time… it’s about connecting with people. God gave us these abilities, and we believe we are meant to use them to bless others. It’s not from behind a pulpit, and it’s not about religion, but it’s definitely ministry. It’s about faith – in God, in good, in the value of others, in ourselves and our dreams, and in living with passion.



I would like to thank Deb and Bob for giving this glimpse into their life and I had a blast hanging out with them a couple weeks ago in their little piece of paradise.
You can check Retreat in action this coming weekend where they will be a part of wonderful show down in Battleground Washington at Barn House.  Barn House just happened to be the very first vintage market I went to two years ago and I of course went there to check out the wonderful duo of Retreat.  Here is a photo I snapped when I visited Deb and Bob back then....

So guess where I'll be this weekend......and you should too;)

11 comments:

  1. This post is AMAZING. Like watching a love story via written word. What an amazing life, love, and passion.

    This is one of few blog posts I could see myself wanting to return to over and over -- for the beautiful photography, the story, the inspiration.

    Beautiful...
    Ruth

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  2. Elise, thank you so much for asking us to be a part of your new creative venture.... we are so honored! We are still amazed at the photos you took and the way you 'captured' us in them. {well.... except that last one at BarnHouse in 2008! That must have been at the end of a long, hot day!}

    We can't wait to read about others in the vintage industry, too!

    Bob & Deb Kennedy
    RETREAT

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  3. Oh my gosh, Elise!!! I cannot believe this is your first attempt at something like this. What a wonderful article and an incredible tribute to two very, very special people! Your photos are exceptional... you captured the true RETREAT as well as sharing Deb and Bob with everyone. Thank you!

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  4. Beautiful job Elise! Have fun at Barn House!

    Deb @ Garden Party ;)

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  5. FAAAABULOUS pictures, and a wonderful post about two terrific and amazing people!!!! This weekend's show will be great!

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  6. FABULOUS photos! Let the LOVE shine through!

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  7. Elise,
    Just found your blog and am so glad! I really enjoyed learning about Deb and Bob. Barn House was the first blog I found and have loved blogging ever since! Your photos are amazing! I am your newest follower and would love for you to visit me. Can't wait to see what's next!
    Rebecca

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  8. What a great idea for a blog! The photos you took are just wonderful! Can't wait to see more.

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  9. Amazing post about two amazing people! Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us! The photos are...dare I say amazing, again!

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