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Designing Women: Inside Samantha Bard and Ashley Montgomery-Pulido’s Boudoir

October 15, 2012

Samantha Bard and Ashley Montgomery-Pulido, Co-Owners of Shag

Interview by Jennifer Markas, Photography by Amy Lee

Design is everywhere. It’s in the cup of coffee you drink in the morning to the subway ads you read on your commute to and from work. Design is also in the items that bring us the most pleasure. It’s sexy lingerie, seductive novel covers, and dare we mention those naughty unmentionables? From chocolate body paint and pin-up pasties to condom covers and velvet wrist-restraints, Shag Brooklyn carries it all in a tasteful, carefully curated and well-designed package. Damsels in Design stepped in to the boudoir-style shop to learn more about Co-Owners Samantha Bard and Ashley Montgomery-Pulido’s passion for sexy design.

DID: How did the concept of Shag come about?
Sam was getting her MFA at Hunter – her art revolved around issues of sexuality, gender, intimacy, etc, so Shag was a logical next step, since the shop is a marriage of sex and art; Ash was consulting with a number of small businesses in the NYC region, helping them with financial and organizational operations and brand development concepts. We started Shag because we felt that there needed to be a store, a “sexy shop”, where everyone was welcome, no judgments are passed…someplace that is open, comfortable, and accessible to all.

DID: What is your favorite part about curating your own shop of sexy wonders? Who are your favorite artists/designers you carry? What do you look for in designers and products you carry?
One of the best parts of curating the shop is seeing how much AWESOME stuff is out there! It’s amazing the sort of creativity, skill, and imagination our designers and artists have put into their work, and it feels great as a business to be able to support local talent. As for the products we carry – we look for high quality, original, trend-setting products from local artists and designers – virtually all of our locally made products are hand made by the artists themselves, so a lot of love goes into these pieces! Currently, we have over 70 artists/designers making products for Shag.

DID: How do you manage all of your daily to-do’s? Have you adopted morning/evening rituals to help you get through the day? If so, which ones have had the greatest impact on running your own business?
The first year was a little difficult in terms of time management for the business and our personal lives – at the beginning there must be some sort of sacrifice, and we were OK with that. Now that things have stabilized we both try to balance out our business lives with our personal lives – believe it or not, your business will actually do better if you allow yourself some personal time – otherwise burn out is inevitable. Sam’s morning ritual is an intense workout program outdoors in the sun (or the rain!) that keeps her in shape, both physically and mentally, and is a great help in preparing for the day. Ash does Bikram yoga and spin classes for her physical balance, and loves to travel for her spiritual and mental balance. We also try to get together for a glass of wine a few times a month to talk to each other about business and share with each other about more personal things. We do talk, email, text and/or instant message with each other almost every single day… (!)

DID: What advice can you share with first-time entrepreneurs about opening up their own business? How important is it to design your customer’s experience especially on a subject that is so intimate and personal?
We never came into this business thinking about what people would think about us – we knew from the beginning that we were creating something very unique and special, and we were not ashamed to talk about it. Our passion for this business has drawn a lot of people from the community who also want to be a part of something special; that sort of passion is contagious and it engages everyone with whom it comes in contact.

Shag is all about designing our customer’s experience – it is one of the most important aspects of the shop, as we strive to create an environment that is friendly, open and non-judgmental. We like to think that even if you come into the shop a little unsure of yourself (we do understand that some people may not feel as comfortable as we do when it comes to sex and intimacy), you will leave feeling educated, knowledgeable, and confident – we are here to both teach and listen!

In terms of the actual design of the shop – we have created a very “homey” feel – vanity tables, dressers, and antique furniture make up the brunt of our merchandising units – when you walk into Shag, you feel like you are walking into a friend’s home, and it feels comfortable…it feels good.

Sexy designs at Shag

DID: If there is one thing you could change about the industry you’re in what would it be?
We wish that the general public be a little more accepting and open about sexuality, and that there was more education on how to make decisions regarding sex (especially in our formative years), and where to go/who to speak to for those who are in crisis.

DID: What are your future plans for Shag? Opening up any new locations (Manhattan, please)?
Haha, well a Manhattan location is part of our future plans, but we can’t say exactly when that will be. We also just recently launched our online boutique, so now people can shop Shag from anywhere in the country. We also are slated to start a wellness leg of Shag; that will address sexual health and holistic wellness as key components to overall quality of living.

DID: How important is networking in your line of work? How has it helped you build your community?
Networking is extremely important, no matter type of business you are in. Our community has grown organically, and there are so many people in this industry who are trying to do good in the world that natural partnerships with other people/businesses seem to form regularly – and our community keeps growing everyday.

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