Taking the typical path has never been Alan and Kaitlin Slattery’s forte. The couple married young, tying the knot before going to college. Then, while many of their classmates booked it to New York City after graduation, Alan and Kaitlin saw their dreams staying down South. Birmingham, Kaitlin says, ended up being the perfect place to plant roots.
“You know how they say millennials want to have it all? Well, we are definitely those people,” Kaitlin says while sitting on a vintage velvet couch, a focal point of her and Alan’s newly opened shop, Dreamers Supply Co. “We want a healthy life-work balance, we want a big family, and we want to own our own business. And that’s all attainable here in Birmingham.”
Dreamers Supply Co., nestled in Birmingham’s handsome Forest Park neighborhood, channels some of the dreams Kaitlin and Alan have been cooking up for years. After putting themselves through Savannah College of Art and Design (Alan studied accessory design, and Kaitlin studied illustration), the pair was itching to put their creative skills to work. They took several trips to New York City, getting a feel for the Big Apple and assessed if city life would be a good fit for their future. After steeping themselves in the fast-paced lifestyle of long commutes, pricy studio apartments and waiting in grocery lines that lasted more than an hour, the couple knew there had to be a better way to attain their dreams.
Kaitlin, a Birmingham native, noticed a buzz going on in her hometown, and she couldn’t help but want to be a part of it.
“I think there’s a huge creative force in Birmingham,” Kaitlin says. “But I think it still needs some encouragement. The community is hungry for creativity, which makes them open to the idea of new, beautiful, weird, inspiring and different. You can see that through the new things that people flock to in Avondale. We hope to become a part of that growing creative movement.”
The solution? Start a lifestyle shop that supports local makers while also introducing Birmingham to other artisans from outside the area. The name for the shop, Alan says, came naturally.
“We’ve always felt like we were the weird people that at parties, when we would leave, people would say, ‘those Slatterys — they’re such dreamers,’” Alan says with a smile. “I guess we’ve always had lofty dreams.”
Because they married young and put themselves through school — and, Kaitlin points out, took some time to live in France (newborn baby in tow) — boldness seemed to be in the pair’s blood. “Dreamers,” Kaitlin says, has become an appropriate moniker for their lifestyle. By building a venue that would support others’ creative dreams, Kaitlin says she and Alan hope Dreamers Supply Co. will become a place where locals can come and nurture their own creative endeavors.
A Place for Dreamers
Tucked behind Clairmont Avenue and just a stone’s throw from other nearby creative hubs like Shoppe and Naked Art Gallery, Dreamers Supply Co. boasts bold colors and a hodgepodge of items that are artfully and thoughtfully made. Bespoke leather handbags and shoes, folk medicine, illustrated greeting cards, indie magazines, candles, locally made craft chocolate, coffee, bath products, gorgeous journals, artisan baby clothes and more are peppered throughout the space. Every item sold in the store has a story, and some products are made by some of their SCAD classmates.
“I’m really happy with who we’re showcasing now. I know every one of them, and I know their stories,” Kaitlin says. “The best description we’ve come up with for the store is a ‘lifestyle shop,’ because we have a variety of things, and we’re going to continue to expand our selection.”
Aside from featuring other artists, Dreamers Supply Co. also serves as a place where Alan and Kaitlin can showcase some of their own works. The back wall of the shop is lined with some of Alan’s handmade purses, which are modern in style yet give a subtle nod to historical inspiration. Working with leather, Alan says, came about by happenstance when he wanted to learn how to make a pair of leather shoes that, store-bought, would have been out of his budget. What he discovered was that he had a knack for working with his hands and incorporating his own inspirations into his work came with ease. “It started me on that journey,” he says. Eventually, Alan branched out into handbags, which have become somewhat of a calling card for his personal brand.
“I want them to be heirloom pieces,” Alan says of the handbags, “… something you can pass along and it’ll grow with you. Something you can rely on.”
Kaitlin has begun dabbling in expressing her own creativity through the shop, too. Finding time to illustrate and revisiting her talents has been a rewarding journey for the new mother and artist.
“I think for the first year here I wanted to project success, but in reality, I was just trying to hustle and make it work,” Kaitlin says. “Because it’s so easy to blink and wonder where five years went, I think it’s important to find adventure wherever you are.”
Although Dreamers Supply Co. has only been open for a short season, the couple says they feel like they’ve already begun laying the groundwork for a special venue that will grow to become a haven for those seeking inspiration — for those seeking to chase their dreams.
Find Dreamers Supply Co. at 825 39th St S Unit A, Birmingham, AL 35222. Hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. To learn more, visit dreamerssupplyco.com or call (205) 807-8381.
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