Today we’d like to introduce you to Hannah Alley and Lauren Hillery.
Hannah and Lauren, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Gather is the brainchild of two souls who had a passion for community building and challenging conventions. We met on the job doing marketing and branding for a local real estate company and, for two people who have built a high guard, became quick friends. We affectionately attribute this natural bond to connecting over the loss of our mothers. It’s the club you never want to part of. In a way, we feel those two conspired on our behalf and what happened after was nothing short of magic. We both had multiple business ideas in the past that failed to take shape, but there was something about the perfectly matched style of grit, perseverance and that crazy “yes-and” spirit that so easily landed on the idea of Gather — a space for ideas, people and makers to gather in a way they wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to. The ball for bringing this idea to life really started rolling on a day we were working remotely from The Henry and saw a junk mail promotion for the State Forty-Eight speaking engagement at 2017 Phoenix Fashion week on the topic, “How to Make Community a Part of Your Brand” and we figured we’d go listen and try to connect with them to see if they’d let us pick their brain over a cup of coffee.
One month later, we found ourselves sitting at a table at Sip with Mike, who insisted that we connect with his buddies opening up The Churchill because we shared similar visions for the evolving downtown Phoenix community. We sat down with Kell Duncan at Desoto Market, and just a week later — just before Christmas — we were sending over a pitch concept. On January 2 of 2018, we were given the green light that Gather would find its first home at The Churchill. We opened our doors to the public, along with our 9 fellow business owners, and we haven’t stopped building our business sense.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
We have been very fortunate and I think that’s because we trust our gut and each other. Any time we have felt a nagging or unnecessary resistance or complication we’ve said to ourselves “ok, universe, we hear you, this isn’t the right thing right now” and have walked away or found a new approach. Funding was a greater form of a challenge than we anticipated, particularly in the upfront and since we were self-funding the project. This journey has also taught us the value of time. Time is just such a precious and sometimes limiting factor, and we’ve definitely felt under its thumb. You know, We still had our full-time corporate gigs, Hannah is a mama, and Lauren juggles also being in a band – we have full, complex lives where many things are the priority. Finding a rhythm with all the things has, and continues to be something we consciously seek.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
If there’s one thing we’ve really become known for, it’s how good our shop smells. But we can’t take credit for that, we’ve been fortunate to find makers who create incredible products, some of which smell divine and happen to still do so when combined in a small space. You know, Arizona really is bursting at the seams with talented makers and Gather, the shop is just a platform designed to unfurl that potential. We’re currently in the building process, discovering a community with and alongside our makers. We think you can feel that when you walk in the shop (and maybe smell it too).
In terms of what we do, our driving force is intentional decision making. The shop is really a by-product of that. The experiences we curate are guided by the relationships with local makers who believe what we believe — that conscious capitalism can thrive. We’ve connected with so many Arizona-dwellers over a shared belief in prioritizing social good over profits. It’s humbling and a point of pride for us that each month, in partnership with our makers and The Churchill, we donate our time and a percentage of our proceeds to local non-profits. We’re currently in the process of developing our own fund and cause to support, which we’ll launch later in 2019.
We decided from the beginning that we wanted to be part of changing the conversation about CBD (cannabinoid), a compound found in cannabis plant, by elevating the CBD buying experience. We both advocate the medical benefits of cannabis, and CBD is just one compound that as significant healing properties. Of course there’s the entourage effect, but for now, you can find a variety of high-quality, beautifully designed, CBD-infused products (like coffee, hand cream, skin care, capsules) on our shelves. We continue to see that resonate with people. That is an approach and a strategy we believe in and will continue to find ways to cultivate.
Downtown Phoenix continues to find its footing in an evolving landscape, you can feel it each day just walking the streets. There are a lot of folks doing meaningful work, and you can see that spreading with each new business that plants its roots in this community. While we currently take up just 160 square feet in downtown Phoenix, our natural restless nature is propelling us to continue to expand the reach and impact of our mighty little endeavor. We’re open to the wind – letting the makers in Arizona and downtown Phoenix guide Gather’s evolution. In the meantime, we can continue to encourage mindfulness in shopping behavior and lead by example that “support local” is not just a catchphrase or a movement, but a way of life. And that local doesn’t mean “handmade” in the traditional sense of arts and crafts; Phoenix and Arizona at large are producing and inventing amazing new, quality products at prices that are attainable.
What were you like growing up?
Lauren: As an only child for ten years and the youngest in the family by far, I was always more like an adult than a kid. I spent a lot of time with my nose in a book dreaming about riding the horse I’ll never have and singing Disney tunes at the top of my lungs with earphones in my years. I grew up in Arizona, hating every second of it just wanting to see some green in my life and swimming every summer day way. I entertained myself and spent a lot of time playing games but always, always daydreaming.
Hannah: I was deeply uncomfortable in my own skin growing up – though, at my core, a very curious and passionate empath bursting at the seams with creative energy. I always kind of felt on the outside like I didn’t quite belong, which is interesting I grew up to start a business so centered around inclusivity and community. I refused to wear dresses or associate with anything “girly,” and preferred to be on horseback, playing video games, or at our local library reading + writing poetry. I was on the debate team, and always loved my time at the State Capitol – I am still so inspired when I walk the halls.
Most of my childhood, however, was consumed with sports. I ran cross country and played basketball and softball. During the summers, I would travel with a state-wide basketball league. I remember eating a lot of Culvers and Burger King on the road. My dad never missed a game. My best friend was (and still is) my younger brother, Matthew. We’ve gone through a lot together, and always had each other’s backs. He once ate a crayon just to make me laugh. You can’t break a bond like that.
- Address: 901 N 1st Street
Phoenix, Arizona 86004
- Website: www.gatherphxshop.com
- Phone: 715.456.3273
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @Gatherphxshop
Kyle Smith, @Libraego and Hannah Lyons, @Hannvhl