In 2012, David Kowalski was fired from what he would have described as his dream job, placing educators into schools in China. It was unexpected and in that moment he was forced to dive headlong into deep water. But instead of searching for a lifeboat, he ended up building his own ship.
David had been collecting antiques and oddities for years - a result of years of travel and necessity to fill the house he’d purchased in the Westview neighborhood of Atlanta. With time on his hands and a need to pay his mounting bills, David and a few friends took over the booth at an Atlanta area antique market and began filling it with some of the treasures he’d acquired through the years. As it turns out, a whole bunch of Atlantans shared David’s affinity for history-laden conversation pieces, and the booth was immediately successful.
In November of 2012, David partnered with a few regional makers on a holiday pop-up shop in Atlanta’s White Provisions District, offering small online retailers a chance to come together in a shared space surrounded by his eclectic antique finds and furniture. In this way he hoped to provide both the artisans and their patrons an experience that’s lacking for those whose only retail presence is online. A brick and mortar experience for those who would ordinarily find it unattainable.
Today, Brick + Mortar can still be found in the White Provisions district. The space is filled with antique furniture and curiosities that are hand-picked by David from his travels and his deep dives into estate sales and auctions. You’re just as likely to encounter a beautiful tufted leather sofa as an industrial lamp from a factory floor or the four-foot tall head of a bull elk. You will also still find the works from local and regional artisans without a retail space of their own. Currently in addition to the conversation pieces littered throughout the shop, you will find couture from Megan Huntz, jewelry from Pieces of Starr, and handmade leather from Glad & Young. All Atlanta-based makers getting an opportunity to shine in the beautiful, one-of-a-kind environment David has created.
Perhaps inspired by the makers and artisans he was housing in the walls of Brick + Mortar, David began creating and selling a line of candles he makes in the shop. A way for everyone to bring home some of the experience of Brick + Mortar without having to find a way to load an elk head into their Prius. For those who are outside of Atlanta, you can purchase Brick + Mortar candles here.
If you’re in the city, you can experience all of this for yourself, and I would highly suggest doing so. Maybe you’ll come away with a new candle, or maybe a dentist’s chair from the turn of the century. Either way you’ll get to be a part of the story, and that’s what all this is really about.
Until next time,
John - Founder, IGWM
Pioneer Selects: David Kowalski
Currently Reading: “I’m reading two things: ‘Tickets for a Prayer Wheel’ by Annie Dillard - her stuff is amazing. On the bottom of my candles I have an Annie Dillard quote. I’m also reading a book called ‘Devil in the White City.’ It’s so good.”
Current Inspiration: “Travel is what inspires me. Experiencing other cultures and they way they do things or don’t do things and their design aesthetics. Their language and food. Everything.”
Favorite IGWM Product: “I’m a big fan of the Sink or Swim hoodie”
P.S. David and the Brick + Mortar team have been releasing playlists for each of their candles. They’re vibey and well-curated, so when you pick up your new scent, check out its audio counterpart here.