When Erin Heath and Rose Mattos were considering opening a retail shop, the co-owners of Somerville floral and event styling company Forêt Design Studio were conflicted. So they consulted Mattos’ oft-dealt tarot cards. “We pulled the Queen of Swords, which is a woman of empowerment. She’s been through a lot, but she can overcome anything,” Heath recalls. “And we were instantly like, ‘Yes. We’re doing this. We have to.’ It just melted away all the fears and doubt and questioning.”
The duo launched their own Queen of Swords in late May in the same, since-expanded space that houses Forêt just outside Union Square, hosting a grand opening party in August. Flooded with natural light courtesy of a newly installed floor-to-ceiling glass storefront and marked by clean woods and touches of greenery, the shop extends Forêt’s aesthetic to a carefully curated collection of home goods, jewelry, bags, accessories, cookbooks, gardening tools and clothing.
“Our whole concept is California meets New England, and that’s what we try to infuse in the store,” Heath says. “The idea was to make a reflection of who we are beyond flowers. … Texture is really important to us—we have a lot of clay and woven items and wood.” The goods range from statement pieces like linen tassel necklaces by Boston maker Kate Whitehouse and large ceramic knot necklaces from Pittsburgh’s Oatmeal Shop to wild sage from Brooklyn’s fair-trade indigenous goods shop Incausa, black tea soap from Paris and scarves from LA’s Block Shop. A small selection of clothing, mainly jumpsuits and kaftans in cool raw silk and linen, includes a collection made with fabric loomed in Lowell. “We thought that was really cool, that the actual fabric itself was made here,” Heath says.
Indeed, she and Mattos source many of the products from female makers and small women-run companies, as well as brands that donate to causes like the ACLU. “We care about not only where our flowers come from but where our products come from,” Heath says. “There has been a higher focus on women-driven products, but I think we’re trying to bring in some more things that are for everyone.” That includes a set of discreet oblong ceramic pipes made by a husband-and-wife team in California. “A lot of people are like ‘I’d keep this on my coffee table,’ ” Heath says with a laugh. Their customer base also includes Forêt’s bridal clients, who are drawn to a selection of unique bohemian jewelry and accessories like hand-forged brass bun pins.
“We’re kind of a destination stop,” Heath says. “We’re not Newbury Street; we’re not getting the same kind of traffic. So we’ve noticed that a lot of people will come here seeking out what we have.”
Queen of Swords, 11 Hawkins St., Somerville shopqueenofswords.com