Becker Minty is a not a shop, it’s a lifestyle concept, and one very much wrapped up in the personal taste of its owner. The Potts Point institution turns five this month and at a time when eCommerce is robbing many independent shops of their livelihoods, Becker Minty is bucking the trend by constantly offering something new, getting the un-gettable and providing much more than just a shopping destination.
“We wanted to create a place that was more of a retail and design experience,” says founder Jason Minty. “When people walk through the front door I want them to completely leave the outside world behind and immerse themselves into our world. We are a destination store that provides an entire experience. There are products to tantalise every sense and customers are seduced by the beauty around them.”
When someone comes in, Jason wants them to be anticipating “what will they have in store this time?” because no two visits are the same at Becker Minty. “We play around and re-merchandise constantly, you never quite know what you are going to get. This, I hope, keeps people excited and interested in what we have to offer.”
With the exception of some clothing, he never buys for seasons, sticking to the philosophy of buying what he sees and loves, whenever and wherever he is. A previous career of more than a decade in the air with Qantas, gave Jason his passion for travel and bringing home unique treasures from faraway lands.“When people leave the store, my aim is for them to leave feeling enlightened in some way, having been introduced to a new designer, a new product range or a new look. Of course even better when they leave with a bag containing something they can’t live without!”
The gallery-style store is laid out to create passages of discoveries.“We arrange everything so that people need to walk around, look up, look down, and look behind to discover all that we have on offer. What we find works really well is displaying product in situ, rather than just on a shelf or in a cupboard. So hanging large artworks behind furniture pieces, which are covered in various types of products, provides a more real life feeling. It makes it far easier to then imagine any one of the items on offer in your own home.” They even offer an interior styling service courtesy of Rodney Hinde.
The fashion side of Becker Minty sells many Australian labels, like Aurelio Costarella and Flannel as well as their own brand accessories. Jason says: “We love brands that have an individual story to tell. Everything in the store has a story, a provenance; the unique pieces I discover often come with history, so why should a new item of clothing be any different? Everything has to resonate.” A personal shopping and styling service is available too. Jason describes their stylist, Marijana Marsanic, as a gifted ‘wardrobe whisperer’.
The store’s fifth anniversary is a great cause for celebration. “It has been a constant evolution through those five years, both in terms of what we offer, and of external economic forces.” The GFC and internet shopping have of course affected spending habits. “We reacted by making our unique offer even more unique, trying very hard to constantly supply one-off individual items, getting the un-gettable. Hence my constant travels.” Opening a satellite store in Woollahra, which has a very different demographic to Potts Point, gives them an opportunity to showcase and experiment with other products while still making it the Becker Minty experience.
Jason loves it when industry people get excited about the store. “We love working with like-minded interior stylists. Steve Cordony from belle loves what we do and we love, respect and admire his work. The fashion stylists love us as a source of exclusive international brands such as Natalia Brilli and that exposes us to a new crowd in some of the edgier titles as well as mainstream fashion titles. Just as we love it when customers ‘get’ us, it means a lot when stylists and tastemakers get excited by our interior and fashion finds,” he says. Many sales happen after a product appears in the media and Jason is ever grateful to journalists and editors.
If you aren’t already convinced that Jason loves his work, he tells me nothing makes him happier or smile more than seeing a product he’s sourced walk out of the door with a customer who is equally thrilled to have discovered it. “Our business model is based around my personal taste so it’s always really exciting when people share my latest passions. I guess in a funny way the essence of the Becker Minty offer was born from a lifetime (12 yrs in the air with Qantas) of buying beautiful things for myself and others, so filling a store with beautiful things was a natural progression, just with a little more risk.”
Jason continues to travel all year round, finding new and unsual products. “Is it cliché to say I’m the luckiest guy around? No seriously, I am very fortunate. I love my job. A wonderful and incredibly dedicated team of individuals surrounds me, I spend my entire life around beautiful things, I visit amazing destinations and places and have a super supportive, caring and patient partner. In short, I’m doing exactly what I love doing and I couldn’t ask for anything more. Don’t hate me!”
Having one of a kind items that really mean something to you in your home is what it’s all about, says Jason. “Everyone needs a chair, a dining table and a sofa, but the important thing is finding pieces that suit your personality. It’s important that a home feels like a home and that it looks and feels like somewhere you want to be. Things from travel, from your holidays, the things you’ve kept throughout your whole life, it is so import to incorporate these into your interior design.
“I don’t believe in starting with a blank canvas. You can’t throw everything out and start with an empty room, you have to incorporate the things that have meaning and that represent you. If you are honest and really think about the mix, it will work.”
Read more from Jason at his new blog.