It’s been a busy 2016 for AHA, the NY-based e-commerce site that aims to empower independent designers and artisans to thrive online. In February, they acquired design marketplace Bezar, and in May AHALife rebranded itself as AHA and brought on new members to its team.
Now, after six years of being the online destination for some 4,000 designers in over 45 countries, the brand is launching into brick-and-mortar with its very first store in DUMBO, Brooklyn.
Located at 147 Front Street, AHA FRONT stocks over 100 of the AHA brands across home, tech, beauty, accessories and dining departments. The aim is to replicate well-known concept stores like Colette in Paris and 10 Corso Como in Milan.
“New York City is supposed to be the epicenter of the world, but we don’t have any stores like Colette or 10 Corso Como,” AHA co-founder Shauna Mei, says.
Consider that void filled, as AHA FRONT is a worthy contender in the concept store game. Exposed brick and an airy open plan lend themselves to beautiful and unique products on display, from a lava stone diffuser by South Korea’s Menuha to snakeskin boxing gloves from New York designer Elizabeth Weinstock.
Mei explained that everything in the store is moveable, and products will be changed out every few months. The AHA10 collections, featuring top product picks selected by curators including Fern Mallis, Tom Dixon and Ebaa Alawaji. For the launch, the team partnered with interior designer Samuel Amoia for an exclusive collection of pastel-hued drums.
Plans to incorporate virtual reality into the store are already in place – the launch event was live streamed on AHA’s Facebook page. iPads positioned across the store allowed guests to connect seamlessly with AHA’s vast online products.
At the launch, Mei also share the news that AHA FRONT will host talk series with designers featured in store, as well as events like wine tasting in the fall. And because DUMBO is a tourist-heavy neighborhood, anything purchased in store can be shipped directly to the customer.
Speaking to a full capacity room, Mei and co-founder Sachin Devand explained their goal for AHA, telling the crowd, “We believe in conscious consumption. Buy less and buy special.”
Eschewing big name retailers like Amazon, AHA is paving the way for independent artisans to grow, once only online, and now in store.