Sisters and Memphis natives Kristen and Lindsey Archer are two of the most recent entrepreneurs selected by the Open on Main initiative to move into a downtown retail space for one year — rent- and utility-free! Their retail shop, ARCHd, specializes in clever and colorful art pieces, accessories, and home goods made almost entirely by the sisters themselves. We caught up with the pair to hear about their creative process, what we can expect from ARCHd in the coming season, and more!
Tell us about the journey to creating ARCHd.
Kristen & Lindsey: We each made our way back to Memphis after college and spent close to a decade gaining professional experience in our respective fields of graphic design, video production, and photography before launching ARCHd in 2014 as a creative outlet and hobby. We spent the following five years building ARCHd slowly.
We were able to turn what began as a booth at an art festival in 2014 into a full-time, successful creative business in August 2019. We came up with the name “ARCHd” as an acronym for “Archer’s Recycled Creative Home Decor” because, in the early days, we would go “curb shopping” around Midtown Memphis for wood to create our art. Also, some of our friends tended to use the term “ARCHd” as a verb, specifically when describing our ability to exert our creative influence on something. A raw piece of wood gets “ARCHd” once we turn it into a piece of art.
We know that many of the items available in the shop are handmade by you! Which products do you create yourself?
Kristen & Lindsey: A majority of the products we offer in our shop are handmade by us in our home production studio — aka our garage. While we still package and ship items from the house, we converted our garage last summer into our official woodshop, where all the handmaking now takes place.
Marble tiles and wood are the mediums on which we chose to create our art. We imprint our original designs and photography onto surfaces using an image transfer process … We take wood from long, raw boards and craft them into individual pieces of art — in the style of bookends, vases, wall art, and more.
How did you discover your shared passion for making beautiful things? Have you always been crafty?
Kristen & Lindsey: Growing up, we were always doing creative activities. Our mom was a teacher and provided us with endless outlets to express our creativity. Our birthday parties almost always included some artistic activity. We visited the children’s museum often, constantly built things, created pretend restaurants with elaborate menus, played school, dressed up for our own photoshoots, made up dances to our favorite songs, and entered coloring contests … Our lives have always been filled with art and creativity, so founding ARCHd didn’t feel out of the ordinary for us.
In fact, it was our mom and her best friend who encouraged us to set up our first booth at the Cooper-Young Festival, where we sold our first pieces of art. That experience jump-started ARCHd, which is why participating in that specific festival still means so much to us.
Your brand is unabashedly feminist, celebrating icons from Marie Curie to Michelle Obama. If you each had to choose one, who is your personal feminist hero?
Kristen & Lindsey: We admire all the women in our collection, as they each have an inspiring story of strength and courage … BUT, Ruth Bader Ginsburg will always have a special place in our hearts. She was the first feminist icon we illustrated, and we will always treasure the handwritten letter we received from her, which now hangs framed in our new gift shop. (Read more about their letter from RBG here!)
Can folks expect any fun seasonal products, events, or specials at ARCHD in the coming weeks?
Kristen & Lindsey: We are REALLY excited to transform the shop into a holiday winter wonderland this November! We have plans to create an entire wall of holiday ornaments for sale. We’ll also be putting together some new window displays and so much more … We’re also excited about some new goods made by fellow women makers from across the country, which we’ll be stocking for the upcoming holiday season.
Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?
Kristen: I am a huge Swiftie. Prior to her Fearless album release, I worked with a production company in Nashville as the editor for Taylor Swift’s “Behind the Scenes/Making Of” videos … During that project, I watched hours and hours of raw footage of her creative process — writing, recording, etc. It was one of my all-time favorite projects to work on and made me fall in love with her as a fellow creative … One of her pieces of advice that always stuck with me was to always do your research and be prepared for meetings, brainstorm sessions, etc. Show up to the table prepared and ready to do what you’re there to do.
Lindsey: Books, books, and more books! As a creative entrepreneur, I spend a lot of time on screens — designing on my laptop, illustrating on my iPad, creating social media posts from my phone, etc. So, I love to decompress and find inspiration through reading physical books. I absolutely refuse to get an e-reader, even if I’m quickly running out of shelf space. Though it may not seem like much to do with designing, well-crafted characters and pages filled with great, snappy dialogue really inspire my creative side.
What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced as business owners?
Kristen & Lindsey: Deciding what we ultimately want ARCHd to be. By nature, it’s easy to want to constantly grow and get bigger and bigger and do more and more. But at the core of our business is the desire to inspire others to take action through our artwork. So, deciding how to continue to do that on a larger scale while maintaining a sense of ownership over our artwork and processes is challenging.
Now that your brick-and-mortar is open for businesses – what’s next for ARCHD?!
Kristen & Lindsey: The downtown shop is definitely an experiment for us! Through the Downtown Memphis Commission and Women’s Business Center South, we were given a grant to have our current retail space for one year — no rent, no utilities. While we have absolutely LOVED creating the space for locals and tourists to shop, it ultimately has to make sense financially for us once our one-year trial period ends.
Our ultimate dream is to have a production studio and storefront, all in one (or at least directly next to each other). We LOVE the idea of customers being able to watch the process of us making the art — through a window, of course — as they shop for it. It would also be nice to have everything in one location. So, everyone, come downtown and shop so we can make that dream a reality after this year!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Kristen: There is no such thing as over-communicating. When we are working with clients or other business owners on creative projects, like sharing info about a new product or building an email about an upcoming sale, we try our very best to communicate all the essential information. Effective communication is SO important in every aspect of your life and makes things a lot easier and less stressful.
Lindsey: A brand is more than a logo — it’s how customers feel when they think of you.
Aside from faith, family, and friends, name three things you can’t live without.
Lindsey: Coffee, books, and cheese dip
Kristen: Coffee, a camera, and Taylor Swift’s Music
All photography by Camille Leigh Photography.
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