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An interview with Annette Goliti Gutierrez and Mary Gray of Potted

by Timber Press on April 26, 2017

in Craft, Design, Gardening

Included images by the authors with Sydney Michael and Amanda Brooks for Potted: Make Your Own Stylish Garden Containers.

“To some extent, part of the DIY code is being able to accomplish something at a reasonable cost.” —Annette Goliti Gutierrez and Mary Gray

You two opened Potted in 2004 as “a Mecca for like-minded, design-loving garden enthusiasts.” What were some of the greatest challenges and success of the first few years?

Two of our biggest challenges were that neither of us had retail experience and our cash flow was tight. There is a lot to having a successful retail establishment, from budgeting, what you choose to bring into the store, how to reach out to the community you want to attract, and also being an employer. We had to start from scratch. It was a good thing that we both have exceptionally strong work ethics plus good design sensibilities, and we loved the challenge of creating a “Mecca.” And our basic mission hasn’t changed throughout the years. If anything, we’ve upped the ante to keep designing and searching out interesting merchandise for our fellow enthusiasts.

At Potted, you specialize in garden pavers, tile tables, pots, and specialty decor to style outdoor spaces. Do you have any favorite tips for personalizing small spaces like tiny patios or apartment balconies?

One of our favorite tips for styling any outdoor room is to add a rug, and this holds true for smaller spaces as well. A beautiful runner or interesting mat really helps to pull everything together and make it feel finished. Collections are also a nice way to give a space a “decorated” look. This could be a collection of similar pots (in either style or size) arranged in a pleasing manner to let the viewer know that this is a “considered” space.

Your first original design was The Julius. Tell us about this early design and how you continue to develop your own original pieces.

The Julius is a container inspired by mid-century architectural pottery. It was a learn-on-the-job experience. We took it out of production when Gainey, who was producing them for us, sadly shut their doors. We took that experience and moved forward in designing other pieces. Our designs usually come from what we think is a hole in the market we serve. For example, we developed the Circle Pot and Orbit because at the time, design-oriented hanging planters were few and far between. All that was available were simple ceramic bowls with chains or iron frames with coco mats. We thought we could offer something more unique. The City Planters were our answer to vertical gardening. We both like to design, and we are thankful that Potted has given us a platform to do that.

You two have been friends since you met working in the film industry. Are there any lessons from that work that you’ve carried into the store and into writing the book?

I (Annette) was a screenwriter, but when I was procrastinating I started flipping houses, which really got my design juices flowing. I turned all that energy into designing at the store. Mary was a set decorator, and her eye and design skills have served us very well in our retail venture. To be a professional in the film business you have to be very detail-oriented. Her favorite saying (and lesson learned) is “measure twice, cut once,” and that philosophy saved us much anguish while making the book (and in running our business).

When developing the projects to include in Potted, you asked three questions: Is the project affordable, are the materials easy to find, and can it be done with little experience? Why was it important to offer fabulous designs that are also accessible to the average crafter?

To some extent, part of the DIY code is being able to accomplish something at a reasonable cost. It can be frustrating when shopping to find the perfect item only to discover it’s out of your price range. We wanted to make sure most of these projects were accessible to a wide range of people.

You encourage readers to customize the projects to suit their own personality. We are excited to see #pottedstyleDIY crafts on Pinterest and Instagram as more and more people discover the fun of Potted. What is one creative variation you’ve already seen?

The Cinderblock Wall is one we love seeing over and over. When we did the original one way back when on Apartment Therapy we had no clue this idea would spawn so many amazing versions. While we were working on the book, we suggested someone make one, and she did hers all in charcoal grey paint and it looked amazing. We had never thought to paint the whole wall. It was so fun to see. Very dramatic.

The book includes nods to some of your sources of inspiration like Marrakech Design of Sweden and pottery from Pawena Studio. What are some of the outlets or brands you admire or suggest readers explore for their own inspiration?

Two words here: Instagram and Pinterest. There are so many talented designers and creatives out there, and these two forums offer unlimited inspiration and products. We also love going to flea markets and local craft shows to be inspired.

What is your current style obsession for your own outdoor space?

Annette: I have always loved mixing things up. I really love the whole Bohemian eclectic vibe that is surging at the moment, as it has always been my thing. Lots of patterns and layering… More is more. It really speaks to my love of collecting plants, but there is also an order to everything. Actually, my current obsession has taken plants to the indoors. I think I’m at about 35 houseplants these days and growing. They just make me happy, happy, happy.

Mary: I think being a set decorator for so many years opened me up to designs from different countries and time periods, and my home and garden reflect an eclectic-bohemian sensibility. I love color. which is reflected in my garden. I am currently obsessing over the calandrinia spectabilis for its spectacular summer-long blooms and my peppermint geranium too—I love plants that smell good! For me, a garden should offer something delicious for all of the senses.


Click image for a look inside this book.

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