Refurbished flea market treasures are the focus of this Clifton store.
The name of Belle Jar Design is not an homage to Sylvia Plath. Though Laura Jane Cohen, whose daughter is named Sylvia, says she wishes she would have named the store in her honor. Coincidence notwithstanding, Belle Jar Design, owned by Cohen and Heather Taylor, does fit in with the classic novel of a woman making her way in the world.
Cohen and Taylor, friends who began by scouting flea markets for their own home designs, which turned into setting up stands of their own, and who opened their own brick-and-mortar store two years ago this month, wanted a space to share their passion with others. They also wanted a space where they could become part of a community of artisans and “build a business and bring in local artists,” says Cohen.
Located in what the locals call The Pink House—though it hasn’t been pink since the 1980s—on the main drag of Clifton, Belle Jar Design’s location very much keeps in tune with the wares it carries. “The vibe and the history of the house was really important to us; the house was calling for us to do a makeover of it,” says Cohen, which fits in with her and Taylor’s focus of refurbishing vintage pieces. Not only do they scout markets in Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania for pieces that they can breathe new life into, but they also work with clients to customize pieces they already own. Cohen jokes that their business isn’t just about the store; sometimes she feels like a counselor as well: “I should have gotten a degree in psychology because we have people who call [who are cleaning out a parent’s house], and they can’t even think about putting a price on anything or if they even want to part with something,” says Cohen, who adds it gets into a conversation about honoring things that are meaningful, how to make them useful again and using it as a way to connect with whomever that piece belonged to.
The goal with Belle Jar Design was for Cohen and Taylor to run their own business, but they have found that, while that is the focus, it is the vendors and the people behind the business who keep them going. “They are people and products that we believe in,” says Cohen.
The store carries what Cohen calls “Paris flea” from Jubilee Flea and pieces from “the thrift-store queen” from CP Revisions, both women-owned businesses that fit the same mold of Cohen and Taylor’s and that “bring in energy and life to the store” with their own products. Love and Merry, a jewelry line, is also carried in the store. Teas from Virginia Tea Company, Springfield-based Maxey and Maxey soaps and candles from Potomac Candle are scattered about the store, and the Woodbridge-based, veteran-owned business has also started to bring in sugar scrubs and reed diffusers.
And to get more involved with the community, the duo is working to bring more events to the store like painting classes and a series of love your life workshops, and they are working on building up more.
Belle Jar Design
7137 Main St., Clifton