SCHAFMAYER & CO
Visit and shop Schafmayer & Company online at thebreezelives.com
Failure was not an option for Amanda Bret when she started her first brick and mortar boutique in Brooklyn. Schafmayer & Company is a uniquely curated shop that offers high quality handmade products from artists and craftsmen/woman as well as hosts art gallery openings and events. As a result of feeling so passionately for the project, she opened her doors last year free from any feelings of self-doubt or apprehension— seeking solace in the fact that if things didn’t go well she would simply work harder until they did.
“I don’t believe in luck, I believe in hard-work and persistence. Anyone who is a hard worker, has passion and loves what they do is a true artist in my mind.”
Knives with bone handles, curious taxidermy pieces and Grim Reaper T-shirts are among some of the items for sale that make the shop a source for all things delightfully unusual, spooky or just plain weird. The interior design strikes a balance between refined art gallery space and laid-back hang-out spot.
A custom glass display houses exquisite jewelry from talented metal-smiths, T-shirts hang from plumbing pipe clothing racks, motorcycle helmets sit upon shelves constructed out of reclaimed 300 year old Brooklyn wood. It’s a space that celebrates and show-cases high quality art while still maintaining a welcoming vibe and reasonable price-tags.
A source of motivation and excitement for Amanda is seizing opportunities to support independent artists and helping others. The store hosts knitting circles to make winter hats for the homeless and she helps gather donations for Bark, a no kill animal shelter. The shop also operates as an art gallery space, framed pieces line the walls and opening parties are thrown to celebrate and welcome featured artists.
Some of Amanda’s own hand-made items are included in the shops offerings such as impressively detailed embroidered jackets. Her non-machine embroidery technique involves sketching the design on to fabric with chalk, fastening it onto a large wooden hoop and carefully stitching thread into a completed illustration.
As a self-taught illustrator, some of her wonderfully off-beat illustrations are made into T-shirts with the help of local screen printers Made In Brooklyn. Her aunt is a seamstress who taught her to sew, knit and crochet when she was 8 years old. She grew up enjoying experimenting with crafting and illustration, but considers herself more of a curator than an artist. Curating for the shop means finding a perfect balance between selecting items she feels her customers would appreciate and what she personally loves and knows her grandfather might like. She also must consider what turns over quickly, what type of items have sold well in the past and makes calculated decisions to keep her business thriving. She feels confident about her sellers and buys wholesale rather than consignment.
“If something doesn’t sell that's on me, if it's a loss than I catch a loss. Though it truly breaks my heart when something I was really excited about doesn’t sell.”
The idea of Schafmayer & Company was born after the passing of Bret’s grandfather Arthur Schafmayer, who she refers to as an ‘all-around badass’ who had a passion for Motorcycles. The shop certainly reflects a an edgy biker-attitude with its leather jackets, patched denim vests and leather fringed riding boots.
“Everything that is here is something my granddad would like.” She says. “He was very eccentric, loved skulls, leather, animal bones, he was a serious biker. I wish he could see it.” Her tone switches to raspy growl- "‘this is slick!’ He’d say!”
When Amanda recounts some of her fond memories with her grandfather, it becomes apparent what a profound effect he had on her childhood.
“I’ve never felt so close to a person in my life. When I was a kid I was always a bit of a rebel, and he was the one who really got me, I mean he taught me how to assemble a clutch on a motorcycle. We used to go to flea markets together. He was a big guy with a big handle bar mustache. He shaped me, and is the root of it all, he is the reason.”
Thebreezelives.com is the store’s website, referring to her grandfather’s nickname coined from his carefree demeanor while riding his self-built Triumph and Harley Davidson Motorcycles. The store is her way of keeping The Breeze alive in spirit.
"We’re spiritually connected, I feel him around, he is here all the time.”
Amanda’s first foray into commerce was selling her own embroidered pins and illustrations on Etsy. She excitedly recalls selling one of her hand-stitched pin back buttons to Kat Von. D. This gave her some confidence in her abilities and started the wheels turning of opening her own brick and mortar store. Amanda’s only fall back plan for transitioning from working as a barista to supporting herself with her store was simply to keep working harder.
“I took a big leap with a five year lease, I just had to go for it. I was a barista for a long time, I moved from Long Island to Brooklyn, I was just determined to work for myself. There wasn’t any other option, I couldn’t let my self worry about failing.”
Her risk paid off, she has been able to pay back the loans that got her started and recently celebrated a successful first year of business. But as with any business endeavor, hardships and struggles are to be expected and Amanda has had her fair share of challenges, including a recent robbery. Faith in humanity is restored by
the support and words of encouragement she receives from the community and her customers.
“I couldn’t be more grateful for the support that we get from our customers, it is unreal. Every person that comes in here, even just to look around, is a total blessing.”