Meet the Maker: Pete and Kalina Stormer of Hunter & June
Meet the Maker is a new blog series on The Dapple featuring Q&As with small businesses, creatives, and makers who are crafting unique products for dogs and dog lovers. Know someone we should include? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you ever stumbled on a boutique where you just want to buy everything? For today's Meet the Maker, I'm so excited to be chatting with Pete and Kalina Stormer, the co-founders of my latest boutique-crush, Hunter & June.
Pete and Kalina have created a total dog-lover paradise in their brand-new Nashville shop. I quizzed them about dog-friendly design, their store's unique aesthetic, and the challenges of launching a business.
In one sentence, how would you describe Hunter & June?
Hunter & June is a specialty dog boutique offering beautiful, curated products and an enjoyable shopping experience for dogs and the people who love them!
What inspired you to open a dog boutique?
We realized that there was a gap in the marketplace—it’s surprisingly difficult to find pet products that are as stylish and well-designed as the products we buy for ourselves and our homes. We want dog owners to be able to find toys, leashes, collars and more that match their own personal sense of style. We are both animal lovers, so we knew this was something we could both get behind and do together.
How did you come up with the name Hunter & June?
Hunter was Pete’s childhood dog, a full-bred golden retriever. And June is our sweet little rescue mutt. We created a name as an ode to both the purebreds and mixed breeds, and to pay homage to two pups who have touched our hearts.
For those who don't know Nashville, tell us about your shop's neighborhood—how did you choose your location?
We are located in East Nashville, which is a creative and artistic part of town. We got to test out the market here with some pop-ups (we call them “pup-ups”) when we were just retailing primarily online, and the community here was so incredibly welcoming and receptive to our idea. We were blown away by the positive response! Nashville in general is very supportive of small business, and when we heard of this space opening up we knew we had to give it a shot.
We're obsessed with your "so fetch" sign. What guided your process in designing the shop's look and feel?
Thank you! We love a good pun. The space was actually really challenging for us to design! We were handed a blank slate with the shop and it was difficult to narrow down our vision. We started with key pieces we knew we wanted that would help to create a memorable shopping experience – that sign was one of our first purchases once we secured the space. From there we bought the floor mirror (so dogs can see themselves when they try things on) and then decided on copper structural shelving. We kept everything really simple to keep the focus on the product.
You opened your shop on July 24. What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts of your first month?
If we might bend the question a little bit, we would say the biggest challenge was actually just getting to the first month. With a new baby and both of us having our full time jobs for much of the shop buildout (not to mention running the online portion of the business and managing our social media), it was extremely hard to find time to work on the space.
As we got close to being ready to open, we received some friendly advice from fellow business owners: don’t shoot for perfection before getting the doors open. We decided to sweep the floors, wipe off the construction dust, open the doors and work out the last 5-10% of the details as we go—and we’re so glad we did. The most rewarding part is just how much love we’ve felt from our Nashville community. This town really does wrap its arms around you and lift you up. We’ve had so much encouragement and met so many awesome people and their pups. It’s seriously living the dream – we get to hang out with dogs all day!
Hunter & June has such a carefully-curated collection of items—how do you select the items you sell?
We are very intentional about what we bring on! Aesthetic is very important to us. We try to only bring on products made in the US, and if not made here then from a US vendor. We want practicality to match the beauty of the product. We also like to find some sort of unique or differentiating factor – for example, we have a line of collars and leashes crafted from nautical grade rope, and these leather collars and leads that are hand-painted with gorgeous colors. And another brand we carry hand-knots their rope toys which are dyed with vegetable dye as a healthier option for your pet. We are always looking for items that are pretty, practical, and different.
What's your favorite part of owning your own shop?
We love the flexibility it has provided for our family. We are new parents (our daughter just turned 7 months old) and this allows us a much better schedule for family balance. Not to mention opening this shop has connected us to some of the most wonderful people—other entrepreneurs, our customers, and just damn good dog people.
What are some of your most popular items for sale right now?
Any exciting upcoming plans for Hunter & June?
We are planning on designing and manufacturing a private label/in-house line of products at some point, which we are SO excited for. Stay tuned! 🐾