When Laura Chadwick and Susan Dyke discovered their mutual love of home decor and a shared dream of opening a shop that carries something for everyone, the idea of Epergne took flight. Six years later, through lessons learned and adjustments for COVID, the enterprising store owners continue to provide Nashville with a luxurious specialty gift boutique that wows. Located on Highway 100, Epergne offers everything from personal shopping services to monogramming and proves that personalized brick-and-mortar experiences are still alive and thriving. Please welcome our newest FACES of Nashville, Epergne owners, Laura Chadwick and Susan Dyke.
How did the two of you meet?
Susan: We both lived in Washington, D.C., before moving to Nashville, and we had mutual friends there but didn’t have a chance to really get to know each other. We also have daughters the same age, so it was a natural fit for us to connect here in Nashville. That was the beginning of it. We got to know each other through our girls, and then several years after moving here, we discovered we had a mutual interest in opening a store. Our business relationship grew out of our friendship.
Laura: I would say the same. It started with a friendship and went into a partnership.
What was the inspiration behind opening Epergne?
Laura: There’s a store we both adored in D.C., and we often discussed that we felt there wasn’t a destination store in Nashville. We both had the same passion for a store where you can find a special gift, and then they’ll wrap and deliver it. It’s really a one-stop shopping concept, and we thought it would be great in Nashville.
Susan: Adam at A Mano was very much an inspiration, and I had an opportunity to work for him at the store before I had children. I managed his D.C. store and had that background coming into it. When I moved to Nashville, after several years of being here and saying, “I miss that store!” my husband said, “Just open it.” That’s when Laura and I started talking about it, and the concept grew from there.
What have you learned in the six years you’ve been open?
Susan: When we were just starting, we got a lot of feedback that having a brick-and-mortar store seemed like an outdated concept because everyone’s going to online shopping. Six years later, we’ve found that our initial instinct was correct; there are still customers out there who want to come and have an on-site, visual, touch-and-feel experience when they’re shopping. So, I think brick-and-mortar still has a place in the consumer community. Along the way, we’ve certainly made buying decisions where we should have bought more or less of something, and there have been some lessons along the way. Every year, I think we get a little smarter in what we’re searching for. We’ve been fortunate to find a lot of wonderful wholesale vendors we’ve developed great relationships with, and that’s been a really positive experience for us as owners.
Laura: We’ve got special relationships with a lot of our customers, so we often buy with someone in mind. Or we’ll text someone from a booth and say, “Oh, we just found the coolest thing that reminds us of you!” Nashville has such an incredible community. I feel like all the different stores are supportive of each other, too.
What can we expect when we come to the store?
Susan: One of the things Laura and I both felt strongly about in terms of the feel of the store is that we wanted customers to feel comfortable being there above all else. We take a hands-off approach to customers shopping in the store; we want you to enjoy walking around and browsing and enjoying things on your own. But we also have a wonderful team of sales associates who are really well-versed in helping someone find the perfect gift or coming up with a custom-bedding scheme for their house. Pre-COVID times, we wanted it to be a place where somebody could come in and have a glass of wine toward the end of the day. So, I think it’s a combination of beauty and service and spending 30 minutes of your day out of the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Laura: We wanted it to be a destination where people can come in and find gifts for a baby, their teacher, their mother, a wedding or hostess gift, or even something for themselves.
How has that changed during COVID?
Laura: People are spending more time at home, so they’re coming in and replenishing wine glasses or looking for new bedding. They’re starting to look around at things in their own home, as opposed to just gift-giving.
Susan: Throw blankets are a hot commodity right now because people are sitting on the sofa watching Netflix, or they might need it if they have a couple of friends out on their patio. One thing that isn’t selling quite as well at this point is travel accessories. And evening bags — people aren’t necessarily looking for the perfect clutch to go with their black-tie outfit. We’re anticipating things will probably shift back in the spring and summer.
Where do you find the inspiration for what you sell?
Laura: We scour magazines for new ideas or an extension of what we already carry. And obviously, when people come in and ask for [something in particular], we look for it. Instagram is always an incredible resource. We have a manager who’s very good at finding that needle in the haystack.
Susan: During a normal year, we go to markets twice a year in Atlanta and New York. New York is always the second market, and at the end of it, we take a taxi up to Bergdorf Goodman to have lunch to celebrate being done with the buying season. Then, after we’re finished with lunch, we typically meander through their home department, which always has the latest and greatest products and displays — they are inspiring. We try to learn about other similar concepts around the country; it’s always fun to see what other stores are doing. Ultimately, our goal is to have our own take on things, so I would say it’s mostly about going to Market and scouring every booth to find the next fun thing people are going to enjoy.
What are some of your favorite items in the shop right now?
Susan: It’s the holiday season, so our holiday product is out, and we carry a wonderful brand — it’s one of my favorites — Coral and Tusk. It’s an embroidered linen line, and they always have fun, whimsical holiday decor, whether it be pillows or ornaments or tabletop items. In general, it’s a happy line people connect with. I certainly do!
Laura: Back to the throw blanket — that’s my go-to. There’s nothing I love more than a beautiful throw; it’s a complement to any room.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Susan: My parents have always said, “Don’t be afraid to take on more than you think you can handle.” I’ve followed that, and there are times — especially with teenagers and a business — that I’ve certainly felt I might have taken on more than I can handle. But in the end, I’m always glad I made an effort and tried.
Laura: I’ve always been told to stay positive and try to find a balance.
Outside of faith, family and friends, what are three things you cannot live without?
Susan: Starting every day with my Breville Nespresso machine, my Peloton, and Percy Warner Park. We’re so lucky to have that, and it’s such a great place to be able to exercise and connect with nature.
Laura: I definitely couldn’t live without cheese. I love cheese. I couldn’t live without my sound machine, and I definitely can’t live without my baby pillow. As Susan can attest, it goes everywhere with me.
Susan: Laura has a dedicated suitcase just for her pillows.
Laura: Sleep is very important to me!
Thank you for sharing your story and beautiful store with us, Susan and Laura. And thanks to Tausha Dickinson for the beautiful photography.
Find out more about Epergne, and shop online, here.
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