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Meet: Companion

3 min
Retail  ✺  Design

Tastemakers get recognized for their aesthetic sensibilities; they naturally draw people to their style choices and preferences.

Such tastemakers tend to be highly discerning in the choices they make, often taking extra time to deliberate between available options for expressing their creative selves.

A considered home is no exception.

With an appreciation of home being the place where we experience our everyday, and a desire to create a personal shopping experience for home goods, Companion comes to us at just the right moment.

Currently in beta, Companion is a new way to shop for modern and classic home decor and furnishings with a dedicated digital space for inspiration, advice, and product recommendations from everyday tastemakers, or as Companion calls them, Curators.

Companion Curators are people who have a passion for creating their unique nooks and sharing their finds with others. Most of these curators have a strong following on Instagram, where posts from their creative professions bleed into their inspired personal spaces (and vice versa). But while Instagram gives these tastemakers a platform to share photos and tag brands, there's very little ownership of their sensibilities in the commercial ecosystem of sharing products, giving decor advice, and partaking in the brands' product sales.

Companion changes this by inviting tastemakers into the retail ecosystem and adding value to their creative output. In return, followers and customers get a dedicated destination to explore, seek decor advice, and shop with deepened intention through cross-brand offerings. Companion's approach to on-the-spot inspiration + commerce feels obvious now, but I wonder why it took so long to see it packaged in this way.

(At least for me to see it. Something like it could very well exist. If so, I'd love to learn about it!)

In 2011, I discovered image tagging by Thinglink, which changed how I shared content on my blog. Suddenly, I could post a photo from my vacation and tag the image with the website of the museum we visited, for example, a Wikipedia blurb for the art pictured, and add an audio file for a musical touch. It was so engaging and impactful. I got to share information in a beautiful new way. It was visually clean and highly user-friendly.

Online retail seemed slow to adopt image tagging, used primarily on homepages with in-house production/catalog-type photos. What Instagram brought to the forefront was an interest in people sharing pictures of their own spaces, met with an interest in people seeking to be inspired by other people's spaces (and buy what they saw). When Instagram introduced photo tagging, tastemakers no longer needed to write out all their sources, as often was/is requested by followers. A simple tag, preferably on the item itself, could lead the audience to the tagged brand's Instagram profile for more exploration.

Companion creates this experience with all of the intention that, in my opinion, Instagram lacks. (It can be hard to practice intentionality on Instagram when the app is literally designed to keep you guessing and stuck in a trance. I prefer more intentional time online, especially when shopping; I don't need an avalanche of memes or unrelated things to my goal at that moment).

A slower, dedicated shopping destination full of personal inspiration is one of the many reasons that I'm so excited about Companion.

I met Companion's co-founders when they came into Port of Raleigh about one year before I closed the store. We instantly connected through our shared love of contemporary Scandinavian design and frustration in not readily seeing it/finding it in American commerce. To see the international and domestic brands they've partnered with and the way they honor and celebrate their growing community of Curators is thrilling. Not just because I was privy to the concept stage but because it's a beautiful direction to take for digital retail. Companion's approach is a positive step forward in connecting people's passions with commerce intuitively and genuinely.

Companion offers a place for us to explore, develop, and expand our sensibilities to make our personal spaces the truest reflection of ourselves. When we recognize the value of feeling good in our homes and celebrate the creative process that often comes with it, we create better energy for ourselves and those around us. Through this process, we make our own considered home.  And with more intentional digital destinations like it, perhaps we spend less time hoping for inspiration on Instagram.


Shopfront seedlings

Shopfront seedlings

Allkinds retail store, Burnside Village, South Australia

Kids will be kids

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