Milwaukee – When Kate Barrett Kazlo moved back here to her hometown after a fruitful career managing someone else’s retail business, she envisioned being her own boss with her own lifestyle shop.
She quickly made that dream a reality in the form of the store she owns and operates with her sister, Amy Schreiner.
“I really feel it happened for the right reason,” Kazlo said. “I found the right time and the right place.”
Nestled in the city’s historic Third Ward district, The Home Market has established itself as a trendsetter for locals and visitors seeking funky, functional, fashionable decorative pieces and linens.
“I chose the name ‘The Home Market’ because I want people to come in here and feel like they want their homes to feel and look like my store, to have its personality,” she said. “I want everything here to reflect that. We have everything here they would want for their homes – bedding, custom window, dishware – all with an easy, casual, clean, cozy aesthetic. I want people to come in and say, ‘This is what I want my whole house to be like,’ and fortunately, we get someone like that in here every day.”
Kazlo worked for more than a decade in the retail industry before opening her shop in 2006. For seven of those years she was director of national retail sales for Rachel
Ashwell Shabby Chic, where she managed retail sales at store sites in the Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and New York markets.
She enjoyed her career, but reached a point where she wanted to be closer to home and on her own, professionally.
“I always wanted to open my own store, and [in 2006] it was the right time and [Milwaukee was] the right place,” she recalled. “I wanted to be back home.”
She continued: “I had had a couple of amazing mentors [at Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic] who helped me develop not only my own design aesthetic but also my business core. I was lucky to have had some of the best information and best people ever to work with.”
Kazlo described her style as “a mix of vintage and clean lines. I don’t want to say I’m modern, although I love to throw a modern piece in there, to create an elegant, clean, easy living feel.”
Her approach to home textiles – which account for about half of the store’s total business – can be summed with “neutral.”
“I always truly believe that starting with a neutral, natural base is the way to go,” Kazlo said. “You can definitely mix things up with fabrics and textures, but I love starting out with a neutral base.”
That is pretty much the case with all of The Home Market’s merchandise.
“Really, with all of my furniture, bedding, pillows, blankets, I start out with nice neutral natural base and from there I start adding tons of texture, lots of color with the accessories.”
In the store’s 2,300 square feet of space, Kazlo has set up three display beds on which she combines an array of products from her different bedding brand suppliers.
“We are totally eclectic with our beds,” she said. “We totally like mixing it up with lots of textures, lots of layering.”
The Home Market’s current bedding brand roster includes John Robshaw, Legacy Home, Designers Guild, Bella Notte, Peacock Alley, and Pine Cone Hill, among others – all upscale brands that collectively hit a range of pricing brackets from about $180 through $1,000 for a set of sheets.
“What we try to achieve is not the highest price but not the lowest. We want people to know that we carry quality product, but we don’t want them to feel intimidated. They can come here to achieve a great look at a great price and with great quality,” Kalzo noted.
In bath, The Home Market offers “an amazing line of bamboo towels from Daisy House out of Boulder, Colorado, and lots of accessories from Juliska.” Also in the mix are apothecary items.
Dec pillows are plentiful at The Home Market, and the mix includes the likes of Ryan Studio and John Robshaw, among others.
For the table, the linens mix includes designs by LinenMe, Libeco, Sense & Feel, and others.
And rugs are another key textiles category, as The Home Market is a partner store to the Dash & Albert brand since 2008.
“I have their entire line, and every year it [never] ceases to amaze me how much they offer,” Kazlo said. “They are showing 81 new rugs, from a $30 bright cotton rug to lots of jutes, sisals, wools, viscose.”
Aside from linens and furniture pieces and accessories, The Home Market also offers customers custom design work.
“We do lots of in-home consultations, custom window treatments, custom pillows. we help people layout spaces. We can do anything, from a complete renovation, like the $15 million house in Naples, Florida we recently did, to helping them pick out paint colors for their rooms.”
Going forward, Kazlo’s goal is simple: “To continue to build our customer base. We already have amazing customers, and I feel so lucky. And I want to always provide unique things in my store and continue to be a trendsetter in Milwaukee.”
While running a store day-in and day-out is “definitely hard” and “being in retail is its own game,” Kazlo added: “I think it’s like anything in life – you have to love what you do, and I do. It makes going to work enjoyable, and makes it easier in dealing with the little things that come up.”