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Meet Alex Brookhouse of Sum Shop

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Brookhouse.

Alex, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve spent the past ten years working mostly in retail and installation-based art. I went to school for visual merchandising and spent the most part of my career as a merchandiser/display artist. Over the past ten years, I’ve become really passionate about small business, sustainability and supporting art. I started my business, sum shop, while I was the director of visual merchandising, vintage buyer and creative director for a small retailer. My favorite things from that experience were curating collections and creating community with artists, craftspeople and my co-workers. I wanted a space to merge all of that and incorporate collaborative art in a way that I’ve never seen before. But honestly, I kinda just wanted to create a place that I would want to work at, where I could fully express and feel heard (for myself and everyone sum work’s with).

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Haha, it’s been more of a hairpin road. The road is smooth but then out of nowhere, it takes a turn and I have to adjust (without getting whiplash).

I focused really heavily on the retail aspect to start when I was more unclear of how I wanted my business to play out, so now I have a lot of product that I’m reeeeally over. I didn’t factor that in from the get, not selling as quickly as anticipated and my aesthetic/direction rapidly evolving. A lot of my business right now is figuring out ways to purge the product I have on hand while focusing more on collaboration and creating community. I want to avoid being too sales-y but it is a balance I’ll probably be forever dealing with.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Sum Shop story. Tell us more about the business.
Sum shop produces experiential collaborative art events paired with found home goods and art objects. Between events, we host a free form creativity club (it’s sum club, Fridays at 12pst on zoom) and use Instagram as a shared space between creatives.

I chose the name sum shop cuz I was like “oh I could work with this somehow, there could be some marketing done there.” What I’ve been learning is that it’s literally the sum of my life experiences and values. The sum of my amazing friends sharing their gifts, the sum of true collaboration with new friends, the sum of earth elements to materialize objects, the sum of life-force to create something amazing, I mean I could go on and on in this vein. We also chose to do transparent pricing on all of the goods sold so customers know where their money is going and who it supports(30% supports future artist collaborations).

We had our first event in December! A holiday retail popup shop with sum friends: Emily Keating Snyder, Nadamas Co., Elysian Installations, Devon Pavlovits, Jeffrey Pross, Jessica Bree Designs, Spooning with Nessa, guided meditation by Olivia Mae, sound curated by SOMSIREN and artwork by me, Alex Brookhouse, paired with a collection of home goods that I curated. The first event was more retail centered, the next events are just gonna get crazier and more conceptual and I’m so stoked!

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Luck. That’s tricky. I guess luck could be alignment? Like everything coming into place at the right time. I really believe that. I’m grateful that things work out, always, and that everything is learning. A LOT of learning what I don’t want to do with it. A lot of learning how to recalibrate. I want to keep that as part of the DNA of sum, learning from everything and being malleable.

Contact Info:

  • Website: itssumshop.com
  • Email: itsthesumshop@gmail.com
  • Instagram: itssumshop

Image Credit:
Product shots : Baer Photography @baerphotography; Photos of me/pop up : Adan Maldonado @gonzogeist

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