The best basket bags to take you into summer
The best basket bags to take you into summer

Holly O'Neill

Kildare teenager Charlie Reid chosen to star opposite Olivia Colman in new Irish movie
Kildare teenager Charlie Reid chosen to star opposite Olivia Colman in new Irish movie

Sarah Finnan

‘I didn’t realise how much I was craving connection until I saw my friends for the first time in months’
‘I didn’t realise how much I was craving connection until I saw my friends for...

Edaein OConnell

The setting sprays to try to extend your make-up no matter the weather
The setting sprays to try to extend your make-up no matter the weather

Holly O'Neill

8 brilliant new books that are perfect summer reads
8 brilliant new books that are perfect summer reads

Jennifer McShane

House designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí available to rent on Airbnb for one night
House designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí available to rent on Airbnb for one night

Sarah Finnan

Memorial tributes to be created to honour Princess Diana’s 60th birthday
Memorial tributes to be created to honour Princess Diana’s 60th birthday

Jennifer McShane

Annie Dunne of A.D. Event design shares her tips for planning a small wedding
Annie Dunne of A.D. Event design shares her tips for planning a small wedding

Megan Burns

Pelvic pain: ‘There wasn’t a single Irish doctor who treated me with any level of empathy or respect’
Pelvic pain: ‘There wasn’t a single Irish doctor who treated me with any level of...

Jennifer McShane

The new beauty products to know this week
The new beauty products to know this week

Holly O'Neill

Image / Agenda

Meet the Irish woman who runs New York’s coolest vintage furniture shop


by Freya Drohan
04th Apr 2021

Instagram

blank

Instagram

When it comes to interiors, the Instagram set has gone gaga for a particular pink-hued 1980s aesthetic recently — and one Howth native is certainly fueling our obsession.

Sara Swan initially moved to New York City just over a decade ago to pursue a career in fashion. After cutting her teeth at the likes of Zac Posen and Rag & Bone and welcoming her son, she decided to jump at her childhood dream of opening up her own bricks and mortar shop.

Her store in Tarrytown, a pretty village about a 40-minute commute from the hustle of Midtown Manhattan, is aptly named The Swan’s House. The vintage interiors mecca houses everything from velvet couches that look like they’ve been plucked from a Hollywood period movie set, to porcelain animal statues and highly-in-demand Jaru ceramics from the 1980s.

The store’s popular Instagram account is a veritable smörgåsbord of mauve, marigold, metallic and marble for the eyes — not to mention enough pastel pink under one roof than you ever thought possible.

Home is where the heart is, and here is the story of how the mom-of-one found her ultimate passion project in The Swan’s House.

Were you always passionate about interiors? 

My mom has a great eye when it comes to interior design and my dad owned a clothing company, so I’ve always had a real appreciation for design. My dad used to let me design jackets when I was younger and he’d get them sampled for me so I was immediately bitten by the fashion bug. From about the age of nine, my dream job was to be a fashion designer and one day to own my own store. I can’t believe it actually worked out that way!

Is there any piece of invaluable advice you learned early on that always stuck with you?

My first real job was waitressing in a local restaurant when I was about 16. It was hard work, but it really helped instil a strong work ethic in me. I think it’s important to remember that whether you’re running a million-dollar company or cleaning plates in a restaurant, you have to give it your all. Take pride in your work and know your worth. Definitely don’t be afraid to ask for the salary you think you deserve and I think that is especially important for women.

What did you study?

I studied Fine Art and then went on to study Fashion Design at the Grafton Academy. The Grafton Academy was fantastic and taught me lots of skills that were invaluable when I moved to New York to become a fashion designer. People I worked with that had attended some of the best fashion schools in the world didn’t have the same pattern making knowledge — that really helped me move up the ranks quickly.

How long have you lived in the U.S?

I moved to NYC in 2009 to work for the fashion house Zac Posen. It was an incredible experience working on gowns for extremely prestigious clients and events like the Met Gala and the Oscars. After a few months, I found a new job with a great company called Rag & Bone. They sponsored a new visa and I worked there for several years before moving on to become the head designer at a denim company.

When did you open your store in Tarrytown?

My husband and I moved to Tarrytown just before I gave birth to our son in 2017, and although it was a very difficult decision at the time, I decided not to return to fashion. After staying home with my infant son for about a year, my husband asked me if I could do anything what would it be? I immediately said that I would love to open my own store and he said, “Let’s do it!”

Once we knew that we were going to open a store, I launched our Etsy site to help generate a following and introduce people to the type of product we’d be selling in the store.

Can you sum up the vibe of The Swan’s House in one sentence?

Well, our slogan is, “A uniquely curated selection of vintage and new home decor and gifts” — but I’d say our vibe is Miami Vice meets Mad Men.

Could you describe an average workday?

On an average workday, we open the store at 10 am, get all our Etsy orders shipped off, re-merchandise things so it’s constantly looking different, and then clean, clean, clean! We try to go sourcing once a week. My husband does a lot of it now while I manage the store so it’s great having him on board too!

Do you find it hard to part with some finds?

I really find it hard to part with things and I often think about pieces weeks after they have been sold, but it’s important for me to love everything we sell. I think that’s what helps us stand apart from our competition, we genuinely love everything we’re selling and it shows!

What do you love about what you do?

I get to be really creative in this space! Funnily enough, working in fashion was not as creative as I had envisioned. It was a lot of designing the same type of thing over and over again, so it really became monotonous after a while. In the store, we get to create a space that is 100% our vision and fill it with incredible treasures that we find from all over the world. It’s thrilling! We receive such wonderfully positive feedback from people too. Although it’s a lot of work, it is so rewarding.

Biggest risk you have taken so far?

Having a young son and leaving my successful career to start my own business was really scary. We’ve only been open a few months but I am really happy we made the decision.

For people who want to get into your line of work and open their own treasure trove, what’s your parting advice?

It is really important that you have a unique point of view. Retail is a very competitive field so it’s crucial that you stand apart from your competition. Have a strong brand identity and stick with it and be prepared to work extremely hard.

Also Read

blank
FOOD & DRINK
The Medicinal Chef, Dale Pinnock’s Chicken, avocado and blue cheese salad

By Meg Walker

blank
BREAKING STORIES
‘We tried everything to get her heart beating’: Doctor who tried to save Princess Diana

A doctor who fought to save Princess Diana’s life after her tragic car crash has spoken about how he tried “everything possible” to get her heart beating again. MonSef Dahman was on duty at Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in the early hours of August 31, 1997 when William and Harry’s mother was tragically involved in a road accident in Paris. He explained he was called to the accident and emergency department to treat a “young woman” involved in an accident. “I was resting in the duty room when I got a call from Bruno Riou, the senior duty anesthetist, telling me to...

By Jennifer McShane

period poverty
BREAKING STORIES
Lidl Ireland to provide free sanitary products in effort to combat period poverty

By Sarah Finnan

free online courses
CULTURE
5 free online courses to educate and inspire

Indulge one of your interests and enrol in one of these free online courses. Tired of the same humdrum routine? Why not dive deeper into one of your interests while you’re stuck at home? There are so many free, targeted courses available online right now.  From fast fashion and its harmful impact on the environment to practising mindfulness for health and wellbeing, there are plenty of interesting courses available. Plus, they are all four weeks long or less, making them a great project to dive into while you have some extra time. Fashion’s Future: The Sustainable Development Goals Fashion Revolution...

By Shayna Sappington

Downton Abbey sequel
CULTURE
Here’s what we know about the ‘Downton Abbey’ sequel so far

By Sarah Finnan

blank
premium MONEY
Ask The Expert: When is it time to consider making a will?

Emma Comyn, Partner at Comyn Kelleher Tobin, looks at the basics of making a will, and some considerations to keep in mind. Making a will is often something we think of as something to do when we are older, but really it should be something that we do as soon as we have assets or children. It is not the most glamorous of topics but is something that we should pay attention to and seriously think about. What happens if I do not write a will? While there are no current legal requirements to make a will, if you pass...

By Emma Comyn

Princess Diana
CULTURE
Memorial tributes to be created to honour Princess Diana’s 60th birthday

Despite the tumultuous year in the royal family, both Prince Harry and Prince William will honour their mother in a tribute for her 60th birthday A long-awaited statue to honour Princess Diana will be installed this year on what would have been the late royal’s 60th birthday — July 1, 2021. Her sons Prince William and Prince Harry, said the statue will stand in the garden of their mother’s former home, Kensington Palace, and help people “reflect on her life and legacy.” The statue, first commissioned in 2017, was “to mark the twentieth anniversary of her death and recognise her positive...

By Jennifer McShane