We had the good fortune of connecting with David Kowalski and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, what are you inspired by?
I would say travel inspires the me the most. Experiencing different cultures and perspectives really helps me break out of the normal design mentality and see how other people value design. I lived in China for a bit and they taught me so much about valuing history and culture and I think that really played into my design work and my appreciation for all things old.
What should our readers know about your business?
My trajectory doesnt make sense at all but I see how everything connects. I studied business at Berry College and then moved to China when I graduated to teach at a university. When I came back, I worked for the author Marcus Buckingham and then started working at Turner Broadcasting. I then got back into the China world working for an international school system there. I did that for five years until I was very unexpectedly laid off and then decided to try my hand at buying and selling with a couple of friends at Paris on Ponce. Once I became a vendor with One Kings Lane is when I went full time and then moved into Westside Provisions doing a pop up with Chrome Yellow and I have been here ever since! I started making candles a few years ago, just because all of my friends complained they couldnt afford anything in my shop so I wanted to have something that was affordable and easy to pick up and I have always thought a good retail experience engages all of your senses so the scent of a store has always been important to me. And as far as design, my first big project was Ladybird and most everything came from that. I dont do a ton of design anymore but I still do projects with Third & Urban, a developer here in Atlanta and any jobs that come up that sound really fun.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
So many suggestions! I think Atlanta is such a dynamic city, it’s kind of scrappy and has tons of great and terrible history. I always play tour guide because of all the guests that stay at my Airbnb. So first, I always recommend the MLK museum or the Center for Civil Rights. Those two places are such a foundation for our city’s history and I think they are important to see. I love the high museum, they have a great permanent collection and fun exhibits all the time. Westside Provisions is a fun stop (I’m a little biased, my shop is there), they have great food and shopping. Taqueria Del Sol is my favorite place to eat overall but there is so much good food here. Lee’s bakery is my favorite banh mi, Miller Union is my favorite meal, Heirloom is my favorite BBQ, Brash and Bellwood are my favorite coffee, Homegrown is my favorite breakfast, anything Ford Fry does is really good, I could go on forever but that’s enough for food. Megan Huntz is the best designer in Atlanta, she has a great shop and it’s next to Highland Row Antiques which is one of the last great antique shops in the city. City issue is the best for mid century. I love the beltline, the east and west side, the beltline has done more for the city than anything I have experienced and I am so thankful it exists. And of course I would recommend my shop Brick+Mortar!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh man, so many people and organizations helped me along the way. I dont believe anyone is self made and I would not be where I am without the kindness of others. Starting with Paris on Ponce taking a chance on me, One Kings Lane for letting be a vendor early on, Jamestown for taking a chance on opening a shop, every single wholesale account for my candles, this list really could go on forever. I am so grateful for every job, every sale, every wholesale account, every guest in my airbnb (I have a renovated argosy camper in my backyard), every person who has encouraged me along the way, every employee that has taught me so much. There are lot of folks that deserve so much recognition!
Patrick Kolts, Carrie Friesen, Caleb Jones