Sometimes, a trip to the mountains and a home-cooked meal are all the inspiration you need to start a big new endeavor. At least that’s how it worked when Lauren Musacchio founded Straw and Gold.
“My partner Jared and I spend a lot of time in the Catskill Mountains,” she recalls. “We are constantly on the road, which leaves plenty of time for day dreaming and lengthy brainstorms. So the idea for Straw and Gold was configured on a drive upstate. That week, we made our famous chili recipe (all of our friends beg for it) and we were going back and forth on names. ‘Straw and Gold’ touched down and that was it. I bought the domain name. The next day, I started designing the website.”
Launched in April, the Dumbo-based online shop sells housewares, artwork, jewelry, bags and textiles. The highly curated selection, and the organic, natural-feeling aesthetic of most of the work, sets Straw and Gold apart from other online stores featuring artists and makers. It’s also the only place you can find many of the items on offer.
The artists whose works grace the store hail from the U.S. and other parts of the world, from illustrator Molly Ebinger and ceramics maker Shino Takeda both of Brooklyn, to light box designer Daniela Upmark of Sweden. “When I started talking with potential artists and hearing their stories, I realized I had something really special,” Musacchio says. “As they described the process of their creation, I just kept becoming more and more inspired.”
When she started Straw and Gold, Musacchio had the opportunity to reach out to artists and craftspeople she had admired for years, and started looking for even more. “I approach the majority of them,” she says. “However, now that Straw and Gold is beginning to take shape, I’ve been getting a lot of submissions. I do a lot of traveling and many of the artists are those that I’ve met along my travels. I look for products that are unique, high quality and fitting to the natural aesthetic of Straw and Gold.”
If the name of the venture itself conjures up a children’s storybook, that was by design. “I had a babysitter named Beth that used to tell me the story of Rumpelstiltskin when I was younger. It was my absolute favorite story and taught some valuable lessons such as the value of my word and humility. In the story, the focus is that the straw can be spun into gold. I love the process of creating from raw materials; making something from nothing. That’s where the idea of Straw and Gold came from.”
Musacchio is not only the site curator, she’s also a creative person in her own right. In addition to being a singer-songwriter, she’s currently working on her latest endeavor–candle making. “I have been making natural beeswax candles that will be available this summer. I’m collaborating with Martina Thornhill, who will be making the vessels. Many of the items that are branded Straw and Gold are pieces made either by myself or my mama. She is quite talented and I have to thank her for her constant creativity and ideas.”
While most of them serve a practical function, the items from the site are designed and made in a such a way that they seem more at home at an art gallery or museum. “They are true craftsman, not hobbyists,” Musacchio says of the artists. “Nothing assembly line about this collective.”