Getting To Know: Amy Young of THIRDS

MaggieGentry interviews Amy Young of THIRDS about what it's like to create spaces filled with intentional pieces, and the importance of supporting handmade artisans.

I had the immense pleasure of working with Amy earlier this year, and I've been holding off on having her on the blog. I wanted to wait until it was closer to the holiday season because I love her approach to creating intentional spaces and thoughtful hosting. All of this ties into how we can think more positively about the holiday season, and it also shines a light on the impact of shopping with local artisans. 

It is from this place of sincere intentionality that Amy has created an amazing online shop of homewares that will last for generations. She knows her artists intimately, so you know that every piece you purchase has a story behind it. If you love supporting handmade, and are ready to upgrade your IKEA or Crate & Barrel serveware and decor for something more sophisticated, then you need to take a look at Thirds. 

Are you in Austin? Stop by one of her pop-up shops this holiday season to shop in person (read below to check out where!) Or, you can always shop online. Keep on reading why I want to deck out my entire home in Thirds goodies.

 

Share with us a little bit of your background and what inspired you to start Thirds.

When I was 21 years old, fresh out of Texas State University, I landed a job in New York with a magazine that was just launching (which is now Women’s Health Magazine today).  Utilizing the fearless mentality of every 21-year-old, I packed my bags and found myself living in Brooklyn 2 weeks later.  

After a few years of working under the Rodale Publishing house, I began my career at NYLON Magazine which to every Millennial at the time was the end all, be all of jobs.  From there I eventually became the Marketing Director of NYLON which included lots of travel and meeting some of the most talented, interesting and influential friends and mentors that I still have close relationships with to this day.

After my time in magazines I moved to working for fashion brands, like Alice + Olivia and Coach which of course garnered great exposure to some one-of-a-kind opportunities.  

Being a true Southern girl at heart, my entire time while in NY I was always trying to shape a home atmosphere for myself and friends.  I realized that creating situations that brought comfort and happiness was “my thing”.  Given this appreciation for entertaining and togetherness, I started spending more and more time visiting artists' studios and small shops admiring the works of ceramicists and other artists while at home in NY and also while traveling for work. 

When I moved back to Texas I knew that I needed to shake things up a bit, so I decided it was my now or never moment and decided to curate a collection highlighting artists that I had discovered and loved which is now what Thirds is today!   

What aspect of your work is the most life-giving for you?

Working and meeting with so many inspiring, creative and dedicated people.  I’ve discovered that honest conversations and truly connecting with others is what really keeps me going on a day-to-day basis.  

As with many, it’s easy for me to get overwhelmed and spiral with doubtful and negative thoughts, so sharing ideas, struggles and successes with the artists that I work with, fellow small business owners and my customers is always the best cure.  Sometimes just a conversation can really help break things down to simpler terms and help you paint a more positive and attainable picture for yourself.  This mindset has really transpired into so many other aspects of my life which in result is helping me find that balance we are all always striving for.  

Was there ever a time when you happily ignored external validation or outside advice about your business so that you could follow the True North that you created for yourself? If so, how did making that choice to follow Your Why impact not only you, but your business?

I don’t think there is a specific instance where I had to tune out external influence, but it’s something I have to do on a daily basis!  I know what I want for my brand and for myself and have to remember to stay in my lane.  

It always looks different to an outsider, so if someone tells you that your website or social media presence is great, but you know you could be doing better it’s important to not let yourself slip and really hold yourself to your own standards.  Same goes for the negative naysayers.  I often have to give myself daily pep talks reaffirming that I’ve gotten this far, so it’s best to keep on going!

You have a passion for connecting talented artists with buyers who appreciate bespoke, handmade goods. Where did that passion begin, and how has it developed over the years?

Visiting artists’ studios, warehouse sales, independent home stores began simply as a fun thing to do on the weekends.  After some time I found that collecting pieces for my home and learning more about what went into the work became more of a comforting hobby.  Something about a pure and traditional process and meeting those who honor that brought a sense of calmness that I could really connect with.  

Thirds is all about creating intentional spaces. How do you determine what pieces or with which artists you’ll collaborate?

It’s really important for me to set aside some time and get to know the artists I work with as well as understand their process.  Taking the opportunity to really connect not only allows me to better market their work, but gives them a sense of what I am trying to do with Thirds.  More often than not, we usually find some sort of common ground and work together to decide which styles would work best for the shop considering variety, price points, colorways (I have a thing for neutrals), etc.  Putting in a bit of extra time behind the scenes to create a meaningful inventory and curated collection is what I hope comes through to our customers.

There is something very intimate about having people over to your home, and even more so when you share a meal. What are some of your favorite rituals for when you’re preparing to have guests over?

It’s so important to me to make sure all my guests are comfortable.  My first rule is to always instill the more the merrier mantra, which sets the tone for the night, plus it ensures that no one is entering your home feeling apprehensive or the slightest bit like an odd man out.  

Music is a must, vibe-y lighting always helps, and snack stations spread throughout the space are always good to have since guests naturally gather around food.  I tend to keep my setup pretty simple, but love to pull out a few pieces that I know will garner some conversation.  I always tell my customers that they don’t necessarily need an entire set of any dish, but just a few to throw into the mix.  

Last but not least, if someone offers to help, I’ve learned to let them!  No one wants to show up to a home with a frazzled host.  

Can you share with us any hints of what we might expect from Thirds in 2018?

More work from new artists, and I’m hoping to work on larger custom collaborations.  I love the idea of working with businesses and connecting them to local artists and seeing where that goes.  I really feel like the possibilities are endless once I get going down this road.  

I’ve gotta know; who are some of your style icons?

Oh goodness.  This list can be a long one, so I will do my best to keep it concise.  I know it’s what everyone says, but I tend to admire style when it’s consistently authentic and effortless.  

My top icons in no particular order would be Grace Kelly, Lauren Hutton, Jerry Hall and Sophia Coppola.  I love how they each exude this bold, confident individuality but are also able to simultaneously appear feminine and classic.  

Let’s get dreamy for a minute. If you could take a look at the future, what do you see for Thirds? And, what are you doing today to help you realize that vision?

More and more collaborations!  

I don’t feel like I’ve even began to scratch the surface for what is yet to come.  The retail aspect of Thirds is extremely important of course, but I like to daydream about consulting with hotels, restaurants and showrooms!

A concept shop here in Austin would be amazing.  My friends and I daydream about creating a destination where you could come feel at home, grab a coffee, buy wine + snacks, maybe local flowers and produce while being able to shop the entire space at the same time.  Literally from the coffee cup you drink from to the art on the walls!  

We’re gearing up for the busy holiday season. Are you doing anything fun we should know about?

YES!  I am hosting pop-up shops throughout the Winter holiday season at Las Cruxes on the east side (12th + Chicon) and Esperos downtown on 2nd Street.  Both are local Austin businesses that focus on craftsmanship and unique collaborations!    

 
Photo credit: Paige Newton Photography

 

Want to know more? Eager to connect with Amy? Here's how:

How to get your hands on some Thirds goods:

Stop by one of the ongoing pop-up shops this season, or visit us online anytime at shopthirds.com!  

Fun little extra:

Enter code Holidayx3 for a 15% discount through December 20th!