If you visit Josh and Ivy Elrod’s design shop and art space, Wilder, get prepared to make some tough decisions. If you come in looking for a chair, some cute socks and scarves might distract you. Then you might get caught up looking at some seriously funky lamps. Start browsing through the hip magazines and design books, and before you know it you’ve been in the store for an hour. If you come in searching for a gift for a friend, you might just walk out with a few gifts for yourself as well. The Elrods are successfully curating one of Nashville’s coolest spots. Below, they discuss their shop, their new project – Etudes, a concept store opening in Nashville’s Edgehill Village this month – and their busy lives.
You recently moved from New York to Nashville. What have been some of the most welcome surprises?
We would have to say the community we discovered, and the collaborative spirit – there’s a very exciting energy here and we think it’s just getting more dynamic. There’s also a lot of resources for entrepreneurs, which is promising. We also have been so surprised at how talented and driven the younger people that work with us are. Kids are way more savvy than we were at that age in some ways.
On your website, you describe yourselves as “artists, performers, parents, and dreamers.” How do you balance it all out?
That’s a tricky one for sure. We try to set aside a few times a week devoted to personal care, like yoga, acupuncture, etc. Being a parent can upend your plans for a day, and one of us might have to stay at home with a sick child, so there’s a kind of mandated looseness that exists. We try to recognize when we’re taking on too much, but that usually comes in the form of one of us getting sick or just having to stay in a bed for a day. It’s not easy by any means, but we think it’s also just who we are as people. Never taking the easier, softer way…
How do you curate the shop? What are some of the main places you look for new items and ideas?
We bring in what we love, what we’re really psyched on. Usually, it’s something that one or both of us are just like, freaking out over. We get tons of submissions and that brings the world to our inbox, which occasionally produces something great. Even if it’s not something that’s right for the shop, we enjoy seeing what’s out there. We follow people on Instagram and dig around there as well. Some designers we represent also have talented friends and we get tipped off to people. Sometimes looking at art, music or fashion gives us ideas – the world is full of surprises, it can be challenging to pare it down to our space and presentation.
How have you built up your client base in a new city? Any favorite customer stories?
Mainly by having events and focusing on building our relationships with people that walk in the door. Sometimes it’s about being of service to someone, which has nothing to do with a sale. Honestly, that’s one of the most satisfying elements of our day, if we can help alleviate someone’s stress or anxiety. We had a woman who came in last year who was melting down about her wedding reception here and felt like the people were trying to sell her this huge thing that she didn’t want and she was panicking. Josh walked her to a nearby business that we know that does really cool events/weddings and that we thought would totally get what she needed. She ended up loving them and comes by when she’s in town to say hello. There are lots of little stories like that. Or the couple in their seventies who had a horrible experience buying a Noguchi coffee table from a store in another state that never arrived and came into our shop exasperated. We were delighted to meet them and give them a very personal level of service. It was meaningful to us and to them.