Kristofer Bowman l Upstate MN + Show & Tell MLPS
Upstate MN + Show & Tell MLPS both aim to reflect the northern landscape through element, tone and materials. They have artist made goods, and are based out of Grand Marais, Minnesota. These brick and mortar stores value human connection while sharing the stories of artists, designers and makers.
Can you tell us a bit about your business and how you got your start?
I have a retail store in Grand Marais called UPSTATE MN and a new store in Minneapolis called SHOW & TELL MPLS. Both of these stores carry modern goods mostly small maker made. I like to say that I have hugged 90% of the makers. It’s important to me to find connection to the goods and know and share the story behind them.
I got my start in retail as a manager and buyer of a gift store in Indianapolis called Silver in the City, then began my own store that was mostly vintage and industrial wares with some small makers involved (called The Inventorialist).
If you had one piece of advice for someone starting a business, what would it be?
This is difficult- there are so many things- scenarios. I talk to people a lot about the lesson I learned about enough being a sliding scale. When I bought for someone else and made more money, then when I started on my own I made less money and possibly worked more- doing more of what I love and "enough" was less. The balance shifted. A lower amount of income was more fulfilling. And even in the business it is a sliding scale- sometimes enough is more- to expand, to bring in new to grow, which was also a good lesson.
How and where do you see growth for your business?
The business is in the midst of some growth with the expansion into another store. I hope to continue to find and help support more makers and reach more people online and instore.
Do you think living in the Twin Cities has shaped your style? If so, how?
I have only lived in the Twin Cities for a short while. I grew up in Northern Minnesota and then lived out of state for half of my life. I have always had a North nostalgic and modern sensibility.
LAB is founded on three key values: connect, create and collaborate. What are your three key values?
Human Connection, Story Sharing, Intention.
What is the favorite thing about your workspace?
Both spaces have a bit of rawness and character to them, and great light.
One thing you wish you had in your office/studio…
More plants! Always more plants.
What’s on your studio playlist?
Lot's of Spotify exploration, mixes based on Grace Jones, Beirut, Tank and the Bangas, Neko Case.
What is your no-fail, go-to when you need inspiration or to get out of a creative rut?
Getting Small. Seeing small growing things, looking at details of things that are worn and beautiful, texture. Also- buying a pile of cut flowers and playing around arranging and photographing them.
What are some of your everyday essentials that you can’t live without?
Cydwoq shoes, la labo OUD or Santa Maria Novella Spanish Leather cologne, A rotating collection of hand made mugs by a short list of potters. My partner Andy and our four legged ones, Blackeye coffee's Lavender Latte, the small collection of jewelry I wear. Small happy interactions with strangers.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Creating landscapes most likely.
If you could be a fly on the wall of anyone’s studio/shop whose would it be?
Rosanna Orlandi of Spazio Orlandi in Milan.
I think this is the next collaboration- someone starting out and making incredible things who needs the encouragement and support.
What item in your closet do you wear the most?
Cydwoq shoes, beat up sneakers in bright colors, an oversized striped sweater that I call my pied a terre, Curator clothing crop sweatshirt.
Favorite place to meet in the Twin Cities.
Five Watt or Blackeye coffee, Midtown Global market.
Instagram accounts you love to see in your feed.
@jamiesierrarex (keeps me grounded in the north)
Summer ------- Paddling.
Winter --------- Fireplace.
Fall -------- Last skinny dips.
Spring -------- checking on plant breaking soil and setting up the koi pond, waking with the sun.
Last Adventure: Milan for 4 days.
Next Adventure: NYC soon.
By Day: Mild Mannered Shopkeep.
By Night: Finding more good goods and dinner out.
Believes In: Kindness.
Yes Please: Everything- more inspiration
No Thanks: Mean spirits. walls.
Spirit Animal: Varies wildly.
Brand You Can’t Live Without: Santa maria novella, Aveda, cydwoq, curator.
Favorite Word: Guh.
Favorite Day of The Week: They all blur as favorites.