When creative minds come together the force is truly unstoppable. The ability and the moment when a collective of creativity translates into the seamless completion of a project — this is something that I continue to deeply admire and have grown to learn the power of through personal experience. Monelle Totah and Gary McNatton are two best friends that are an exquisite display of the capacity that comes along with joint artistry. Both coming to the table with a history of close to 30 years in retail, product development, merchandising, marketing and design — their love of home and longing for European quality product lead them to what they call “the real real”. Their friendship became a sensational working relationship which has allowed them to bring a dream to fruition.
The pair’s home goods brand, Hudson Grace, was born out of a shared love for entertaining. The silhouette of a plate, bowl or pitcher — pure, simple, strong products that are authentic and true. Their knowledge of family owned European factories allowed them to revitalize the concept and produce authentic pieces unique to them. By bringing together their talents they shaped something larger than life. After spending months in Italy, France England and Western Europe hunting and selecting the most ideal of pieces...Homes around the world are now collecting bits from the brand which will outlive their crafters and withstand the test of time. Having a hand in creating these beloved staples that homeowners will cherish and pass on is a beautiful thing. The collection is timeless, well-curated, and one-of-a-kind — offering just the right kind of collected eclecticness that every home needs.
Gary and Monelle have an admiration for old mixed with new. They focus on gracious entertaining, soulful lines and respect of tradition while choosing to be happy. Continuing in New Southern fashion, they also understand the moxie of simplicity. These two have an anchored hold on visual inspiration, modernized Southern Style, and what it takes to become successful creative entrepreneurs.
They are not trying to be everything to everyone — but their aesthetics are everything to us! Which is why we couldn’t wait to speak with them about Hudson Grace and all-things design!
Alyssa Rosenheck: Tell us about yourself...
Monelle Totah + Gary McNatton: Hudson Grace was founded in 2012 by us, Monelle Totah and Gary McNatton, two best friends — based on our shared love for retail and design. We combined our talents and passion to create a brand that offers a beautiful but practical collection of home goods. While our expertise is in offering chic home decor products, Hudson Grace offers four signature candle scents that are created by founder and fragrance-designer McNatton. With three decades of experience delivering award-winning design and production in personal care, ﬁne fragrance, home product and package design. During his eight-year tenure as Senior Vice President at Gap Inc., he developed the retailer’s personal-care business into a $200 million-a-year business. He’s passionate about the authenticity and simplicity of Hudson Grace products. Likewise, Monelle Totah, a native of Louisiana, has extensive retail experience in home and tabletop product development for Williams-Sonoma and Banana Republic. She scours European markets for one-of-a-kind items that sometimes wind up as the basis for new product lines made exclusively for Hudson Grace. Our shared love for entertaining inspires their collection.
AR: The shop is filled with visual inspiration from room to room...How has the shop contributed to the modernization or updated Southern Style?
MT + GM: New southern style is very much what we are, the juxtaposition of mixing family heirlooms and cherished pieces w pure simple modern lines. By doing so the vintage pieces and new modern pieces have room to breathe - and allow themselves to be viewed and appreciated. It’s not one room or one house filled with one thought — by the blend of heirloom and modern it’s like opening a door and allowing the air to come in. This is how we visualize the Southern home — this is our way of approaching decorating your home....a mix of your grandmother's buffet with modern clean dinnerware and serveware...It makes vintage new again.
Founded in 2012 with its first location in San Francisco’s stylish Presidio Heights neighborhood, Hudson Grace originates from our minds and hearts.
Hudson Grace is itself a product of the juxtaposition of a duos’ aesthetics and joint pedigree in retail and design. Her eclectic yet refined style paired with his love for modern, simple yet soulful silhouettes to form the brand’s timeless and covet-able identity and accessible approach to home design and modern, gracious entertaining.
AR: How have you mastered all the growth with the shop and is there structure or tips you may share when you grow rapidly?
MT + GM: A sense of humor helps a lot, and a drink nearby! Sometimes you have to stop and breathe — go to the top of the star and look down. Sometimes you can get lost in the race. For example, this year we are focusing online, as we have been a brick and mortar brand (the foundation of our brand to date) but in this new year we are committed to developing our online presence across the US.
AR: What advice do you have for creative entrepreneurs?
MT + GM: Stay focused. And always be true to yourself. Don’t look at others to imitate — do what you believe in. Authentic always wins.
AR: What’s your life motto?
MT: Choose Happy.
GM: In simplicity there is longevity.
AR: How do you continue to differentiate yourself in the marketplace?
MT + GM: Be ourselves and look forward.
AR: The place you go to get inspired?
MT + GM: Where do we not? In the homes of friends, in museums, flea markets, even sitting in a bar and discovering the perfect martini glass.
AR: The key to making a house a home? What does a home need more of and less of?
MT + GM: The mix of old and new.
AR: Design advice you’ve received that made all the difference?
MT + GM: Don’t try and be everything to everyone.
AR: What’s your advice for mixing old with new?
MT + GM: We love the juxtaposition. Old makes new look more new, and new makes old authentic.
AR: What’s your favorite housewarming gift?
MT: A beautiful scented candle.
GM: A bundle of white sage for renewing and refreshing.
AR: The greatest color combination that ever existed?
GM: Orange and black.
MT: White on white.
AR: What does “The New Southern” mean to you?
GM + MT: It’s the beautiful respect of tradition, that touch of formality, and there’s always a cocktail involved.