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Every once in a while, while browsing on Etsy, I will come across a shop that has a perfectly curated vision. When I happened upon Shop Taprut, a vintage housewares boutique based in Southern Arizona, I couldn’t wait to get the story behind the shop. Emily, the owner of Shop Taprut, brings together baskets, plants, and texture to embody her vision of the Modern Southwest. Read on to get her story and for a peek at her gorgeous shop!
Can you describe the path you took to become a vintage shop owner?
I did not really put much thought into becoming a vintage shop. It was never my intention anyway. I had the name and the vision for a few years. I am obsessed with my Southwestern surroundings here in Tucson, Arizona and I wanted a shop to represent the gorgeous desert lifestyle.
The original idea was a mobile boutique that I would drive to local events and set up to sell a few Southwestern vintage finds, some handmade items, and the rest was going to be all pieces from local artists. I even went as far as buying an old step van.
After a couple of years of putting a lot of money into this idea with no actual shop yet, I got frustrated. One of my best friends kept pointing out that I had an eye for finding unique pieces and making them look great in my home.
Out of desperation to share my vision, I started an Etsy shop with very little thought, selling these ‘unique’ finds. It will be a year in February and I just hit over 200 sales this month. I am so in love with my shop and what I have created.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a kid, I do not really remember wanting to be anything specific. I was more an entrepreneur spirit in a way that I was always thinking of what business I wanted to open. For years it was a coffee shop with some sort of unique addition, like a music room or mini movie theater.
My mom has always been fascinated with old buildings and I wanted to buy one for her and have my coffee business inside. I still think it would be a great idea… maybe now coffee and vintage!
Your shop seems to be crafted around a specific vision of the Southwest and Bohemian style. Where do you draw your inspiration from and what is it about this style that inspires you?
The fact that you see my vision in my shop makes me so proud! I really strive for that Southwestern/boho vision in every piece I find.
The inspiration is derived from my surroundings here in Tucson, Arizona. I think it is such a unique city with so many influences. It is in the middle of the desert with a mix of small-town vibes, Native American influences, and a strong Mexican presence. How could these combinations not be inspiring?!
I have traveled a little bit and have even moved away at one point. I have seen breathtaking beaches, life-changing forests and glistening meadows that look like they go on forever. But, for me, there is nothing like a sun setting behind layers of mountains outlining silhouettes of saguaros.
The desert here in southern Arizona is like nothing you will ever see anywhere else. It is truly the inspiration of my whole shop and I was just dying to share it with the world.
Can you describe the workspace where the Shop Taprut magic happens?
My current workplace is in a spare room in my house. It is a South-facing room with a big window so the natural light I get in here cannot be beat! I prefer to use natural lighting in my photos; I have yet to buy light fixtures and I am proud of that.
For storing my finds, I found these giant rusty seven-foot-tall old metal office shelves at a junkyard. I love that they have some of the labels left on them from the office they were used at. The more character the better, in my opinion. I have fun organizing my beautiful mess on these shelves. Sometimes I just sit in front of them with my coffee while burning incense, just admiring the view. They truly make me so happy.
I work off a carpenter’s table that my husband found for cheap at a local hardware store. I love this table. I wanted something taller so I wasn’t bending over when wrapping my orders. Of course, this table faces my beautiful shelves so I can see all my treasures while working away. Between me and the shelves is my all time favorite find, a dried Saguaro skeleton.
My mom made me a swag light with an Edison bulb that hangs from it, right over my table. As for the rest of the room, I keep it pretty bare for photo/staging purposes. I would love to create a small lounging area some day. I need to find the perfect sized vintage couch for this. The hunt for this goes on!
Your vintage line is centered around housewares. What is it that you love about a home filled with vintage items?
A home filled with vintage finds makes that home truly unique and completely all you. That is what I love most about thrifting. You usually find things that are one-of-a-kind that make your heart giddy.
I have always been weird about big box stores. For me, this started with fashion. I wanted my own style that wasn’t what everyone else was wearing. I noticed I was more excited about wearing my vintage 90s floral dresses than anything I got from the mall.
It is the same feeling with home decor. I get way more excited about finding vintage hand-woven southwestern rugs than buying the latest Joanna Gains home line that has been mass produced. Don’t get me wrong, Joanna is amazing. I just prefer when a piece is unique and it is something that would be treasured.
How would you describe your own home and decorating style?
Home is my favorite place to be so I want it to be an extension of me. My shop is the best representation of my home. Every piece in my shop is something I would use in my home. Actually, I struggle with selling and keeping items all the time. How many saguaro figurines do I really need?
I wouldn’t describe my decorating style as maximal or minimal. I think its a good balance. I decorate with southwestern prints, plants, and baskets. See? My shop exactly! I do like vintage mid-century furniture pieces mixed in.
So let’s see, put a large handwoven Southwestern kilim rug on the floor, with a set of wood MCM chairs layered with Southwestern pillows, a plant in a wicker basket, and a framed desert scene on the wall behind. This is my home.
If you were to choose another era to have been born in, which one would capture your imagination and why?
Is it weird to say I think I am in the right era for me?! I don’t really imagine myself in a different era. If anything just a different lifestyle. I envision less city more nature. Living in a place that I don’t see in my neighbors’ windows from where I am sitting right now. A place where I open my back door and it’s not a fenced in tiny yard.
My husband and I talk about retiring to a farm in Sedona or Flagstaff Arizona. If you haven’t been, you are really really missing out.
What vintage pieces make your heart beat a little faster when you spot them?
Oh man, hands down Southwestern woven items. Rugs, tapestries, placemats or blankets. I see that print and I leap to it. Even better if it has mustards and browns. Oh yes, I’m getting excited just thinking about it. These are also the hardest items for me to sell. My house has really filled up with rugs since opening the shop.
More people seem to be becoming interested in vintage wares. Why do you think this movement is gaining steam in today’s world?
I think people are wanting to express their own style and unique personalities more than ever. Curating vintage items is the best way to differentiate their homes from everyone else. People appreciate personal style more than a room full of Home Goods and Target decor pieces.
I am trying to think of examples that everyone can relate to and I keep coming back to Joanna Gains. In her old seasons, all her pieces were found and collected from years of her hunting. All those houses had pieces that only that house would have and we all fell in love with that idea.
Emily Henderson uses a lot of vintage pieces in her decorating. And oh my goodness her style is amazing.
These huge names in the decorating world have shown us that they are out there hunting at flea markets and thrift stores to get those one-of-a-kind vintage decor pieces. And now we all want to express our own style in the same way. It is amazing & wonderful!
Can you give a shout-out to another vintage or handmade seller we ought to know about?
Just one?! I don’t think that is possible! There are so many amazing shops out there! I will share some of my favorite shops and the people behind them. The home decor community is amazing and full of the most amazing people.
CK Design Co, @ckdesgnco – Courtney is the hardest working girl you will ever meet. She has an amazing vintage storefront in Iowa and sells on Etsy, www.ckdesignco.etsy. Her shop is so good and she always finds the best pottery pieces.
The Balanced Bull, @thebalancedbull – Brittany has been testing out handmade items recently and she is so talented! You HAVE to check out her felted cactus gardens. She also has great vintage finds that she stages so beautifully. And she is an amazing person to get to know. You can find her shop on Etsy.
Six1one, @six1one – Jody is a self-taught fiber artist. Her work is gorgeous and you can tell she makes each piece with so much love. I have been lucky enough to get two of her pieces! She is such a good human! She currently only sells off her Instagram account.
Southside Vintage– @southsidevintage – If you like my shop, you will love Claire’s shop! We have very similar taste and style. And bonus, she writes a blog! She is so relatable and smart and loves to interact with her followers. She just started a book club too!
Copper + Twine – @copper.n.twine – Kaleen is so talented. She creates beautiful wall hangings. What I love most about her is she is constantly testing out new elements and designs. My current favorites are the willow designs! Shop her current designs on her website.
There are so many more shops I want to share! Want to see more? Go to my Instagram, @shoptaprut and see who I am following. I follow some amazing, creative, and inspiring people.
Where can we find you online?
Any final thoughts?
I love what I do. My shop is currently a part-time gig that I pour my heart into while still working a full-time job as well as being a wife and a mom to two fur babies. I love it all and I am so excited to see where my little shop takes me. Who knows, maybe it will be a full-time gig some day. Thank you for taking the time to be a part of this journey as I continue to grow and spread the love for the Southwest.
♥ All photos are owned by Emily of ShopTaprut on Etsy. Please click on the photo of an item and you will be magically transported to her shop. ♥
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