Where does Joan get her inspiration? A revealing Q. & A.

Every time I work at the Barn someone always asks this question.  You can’t walk through any of our stores without wondering how Joan does it all and what keeps her inspired to be able to constantly look at Hammertown with a fresh eye.  She is always thinking about ways to make Hammertown new, interesting and relevant.

We always hope you read our blog to get ideas and be inspired.  So, I wondered what blogs/websites Joan went to for inspiration.  She immediately named two.  Design Sponge.com and the blog I Love Belgium. Of course I visited both sites.  On Design Sponge I found a Q. & A. series entitled “What’s in your toolbox?”.  There was a really interesting interview with Keith Johnson, legendary buyer-at-large of Anthropologie.   Turns out Anthropologie is also one of Joan’s favorite “inspiration” stores.  So, I thought it would be fun to ask her some of the same questions and also a few of my own.  I’ve known Joan for a long time and even I was surprised by some of her answers.

Q: What is in your toolbox? What are the tools you can’t live without?

Joan: My i-Phone and my laptop.  If you mean a real toolbox…I love everything in my Oxo Toolbox.

Q: “When I am in my Hammertown stores, I feel  ____________

Joan: I feel blessed and inspired.

Q: What are on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now”?

Joan: Knitting, art and design books

Q: How do you keep yourself organized? What are your tricks for time-management?

Joan: At home I have magazine boxes with categories labels on the box and folders inside. Personal: There is an insurance box, tax box, small and large appliance box with warranties and instruction manuals. For store I have the same magazine file boxes on shelf with categories. I also have a box of hanging files with folders for receipts, recipes, cards, etc

Q: What is the most inspiring place you have visited?

Joan: London and homes of my creative friends and customers

Q: What do you love to collect?

Joan: Toile trays

Q: In addition to being an owner of 3 home furnishing stores, a buyer, an antiques collector, a design consultant and cook what would you like to conquer next?

Joan: Just get better at making Hammertown an evolving inspirational oasis on all levels.  Continue learning more about design, cooking, crafts…and completing the book I am working on with Abby Westlake which I’m hoping to get published

Q: If you were stranded on an island, what 5 things would you want to have with you?

Joan: My kids and their spouses, grandkids and all the dogs — and this is way more than 5!

Q: What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would give to young, aspiring creatives?

Joan: Be authentic to who you are, what you love and are passionate about and think big but act in small baby steps and learn as you go.  You need to learn by your mistakes!

Q: If you could make a master mix-tape of music that is inspiring you at the moment, what would it be?

Joan: James Taylor and Carole king (just saw them at Tanglewood …fantastic) and Cold Play

Q: I know you love to cook and are a self-confessed “foodie”.  If you were a food what would it be?

Joan: Arugula

Q: What and where was the last great meal you had?

Joan: Mercato Osteria & Enoteca in Red Hook.  I had my favorite salad: Chopped Kale, currants, shaved pecorino sardo & toasted pine nuts; and my favorite pasta dish: Handmade Tagliatelle Bolognese with veal, beef, pork & proscuitto meat ragu.

Q: What is your favorite room in your house?

Joan: My kitchen (of course!)


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