Brian Bolke isn’t one to rest on his laurels. Even though the veteran entrepreneur admits,
“I got to say everything I wanted to say” during his 17-year tenure developing Forty Five Ten, he’s never been content with the status quo.
Case in point: His latest venture, The Conservatory, located on the first floor of New York City’s buzzed-about Hudson Yards, does nothing short of shaking up traditional retail.
Combining the hands-on appeal of brick-and-mortar with the ease of e-commerce, the 6,900-square-foot concept store features a thoughtfully edited mix of fashion, jewelry, art, food, flowers, gifts, and an apothecary.
Bolke’s aha moment came shortly after he left the luxury department store he founded in 2000. “I started shopping online only to end up returning everything.
THE GREATEST There was always something I didn’t like. I kept thinking, ‘if I’d seen that in real life, I never would have bought it.’”
The missing link crystalized: “What if you could present brands only available online in a place where people could touch it and try it?”
A business model was born. Although transactions at The Conservatory are done on a website, the store is committed to providing a multisensory, gallery-like experience.
Bolke cites a Stella McCartney black blazer, which he says could never be fully appreciated online, among his favorite items.
THE GREATEST “You have to put it on someone and show them the working buttonholes and contrasting lining,
tell the backstory about where it was made and the research that went into the fabric—and all of a sudden, it’s the most compelling thing in the store.”
The style arbiter also wants to take price out of the equation of “considered luxury”—a term he trademarked for The Conservatory.
“The hand soap you use every day because you love the smell may be more luxurious than a sable coat that just hangs in the closet.”
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