A chance meeting in the Kravet showroom in NYC was how I met Ted Kennedy Watson. By the time our bus had reached the next destination, I learned we shared a love of living well, Mrs John L Strong stationery, champagne and Diptyque candles, just to name a few.
Ted is charming, kind and humble. And has exquisite taste. The proprietor of 2 amazing shops in Seattle, bearing the name Watson Kennedy, he has just had his book proposal accepted and has begun work on Watson Kennedy: The A-to-Z of Living a More Beautiful Life. The renown Barbara Barry is writing the foreword, which should give you an idea of its caliber!
Watson Kennedy has already become a favorite online shopping site for me....so of course I had to share it with all of you. But, the best way for you to truly understand what a gem Ted and his shops are is with a little Q&A! Enjoy!!
PPT: Describe the look and feel of Watson Kennedy for those of us that aren't close enough to visit in person.
TKW: The shops really are meant to be extensions of our homes. They are really made up of all things I love. Goods to give as the perfect gift, and special things to fill your home. Artwork, glassware, candles, gourmet foods, bath products, stationery, jewelry, vintage finds from my travels - are some of the categories. A few of the companies and artists we carry are: Fresh, Santa Maria Novella, John Derian, Rance, Assouline, Molton Brown, BoBo Intriguing Objects, Cote Bastide, Hugo Guiness, Diptyque, Agraria, Maraige Freres, Dunes & Duchess, Vosges, Juliska. In Style magazine described Watson Kennedy as a hip, eclectic style with an Old World bent. I think they pretty much nailed it. We work really hard to make folks feel comfortable the minute they walk in the door. Good music is always playing, such as Chet Baker, Edith Piaf, Billie Holiday. Scent is a key element to the experience. You are instantly enveloped in a mix of some of the world's very best scents. The shops are set up by color. One entire section will be filled with green goods. We try and involve all 5 senses in our displays. We won the National Retail Excellence Award a few years back, for visual merchandising. I love almost all the hats it takes to own and run retail stores, but the one I like to wear the most is when I get to move displays and product around. The experience is about discovery. Folks often say they feel transported to a slower time. The word "curated" is so overused now, but it really is what Watson Kennedy is all about. There is not a single item in the almost 14,000 sku's we carry that I have not personally chosen to create the overall look & feel of the story I want to tell.
PPT: You have an enviable inventory of wonderful things...what do YOU take to a friend's home for a host/hostess gift?
TKW: I really like to bring things that are to be used - a candle, a tin of tea, a box of stationery, a jar of honey -- and wrap it up in a French dish towel. I like to give a gift that is something we have tried or use at our home. My "go-to" options are Diptyque candles, Maraige Freres tea, Dempsey & Carroll paper, local Ballard Bee honey, all wrapped up in a La Jacquard Francais towel.
PPT: If you had a day in Seattle to do anything you like, what would that be?
TKW: Walk through the Pike Place Market in the morning while the vendors are setting up. It is still not crazy busy yet, and the visual stimulation is amazing -- flowers, produce, cheese, meats. We would pick up things for dinner. Have breakfast at Cafe Campagne. Then shop a little up and down First Avenue, and check out the galleries in Pioneer Square. Hop in the car and check out the shops in Madison Valley, then enjoy Madison Park, while looking out at Lake Washington. Then head to Madrona where they make glassybaby and buy one to add to our collection. Stop in to Taylor Shellish on Melrose for oysters and wine. Head home and make dinner with Mr. Sive (our 25th anniversary is coming up in January and we got married last August in New York) by my side, with our pooch Bailey scampering at our feet. Take dinner up to our rooftop garden and enjoy the view of the Puget Sound and our beloved city around us.
PPT: If you could hop a plane anywhere in the world...time and money being no object...where would you go and why?
TKW: Fly the direct British Air flight from Seattle to London. First class, of course. Spend a few days vintage shopping, with Portobello Road being the highlight. Take The Chunnel to Paris. Stay at Hotel Tourville, which is one of our favorites. Or the George V. Or the renovated Ritz when it is completed. In my fantasy, it is completed. Shop the flea markets each day. Take a day trip to Veuve Clicquot, and have a private tasting like we did for my 40th birthday. Just walk and walk and walk around Paris. Just be. Of course, since money is no object in this fantasy trip, I would find quite a few things at Hermes that would have to come home with me. All those Hermes goodies would fit perfectly in my Goyard trunks that would be making their way back too. London and Paris are two cities that we have spent quite a bit of time in over the years. They hold such a special trip in our hearts.
PPT: What kind of daily rituals do you have?
TKW: The first thing I do in the morning is write an entry for my daily blog www.tedkennedywatson.com sipping my iced coffee as I write. Adding to my morning writing ritual is working on my new book Watson Kennedy: The A-to-Z of Living a More Beautiful Life which is being published by Sterling Books, and will be released in the Spring of 2014. I walk Bailey in the morning and the other Ted walks her at night. The days are quite full and varied with Watson Kennedy activities. Once back home, I always walk in and turn on the lamps, of which most to all, are fairly low wattage. I love the glow they cast. Then I always light a few candles. If we are sitting at the dining table for dinner, I always light all the candles and set the table. Creating comfortable settings is really my ritual each day -- both at the shops and at home.Do you see what I mean? Ted just makes you want to live your best life....he certainly is!!! And, I'm relieved to know that if I don't make it to Seattle before 2014 (though I am definitely formulating a trip in my head), I have his amazing book to look forward to!!
Thanks for sharing your world with us, Ted. And, inspiring all of us to "live a more beautiful life"!