One Urban Tribe has been open on the 4th floor of Mill No. 5 since 2017 with owner, artist and curator, Fox creating a shop that is constantly evolving, as seen by her recent expansion into a larger space. Adding to this growth is the recent addition of her ecommerce site. Fox always knew that she wanted to expand her reach and her offerings at One Urban Tribe with an ecommerce site, but she never imagined it would be because of a global pandemic. With around 3000 unique products in the shop she needed to choose which items were worth listing online. Photographing the items for color accuracy, weighing and measuring each piece and writing a description for each listing was the most pain-staking part of the process.
Being the primary income provider for her household, consisting of herself, her fiancée and their new baby, was always in the back of her mind but creating the new website was a labor of love. Even though creating the website was exhausting, “it was really exciting to watch it come together,” she said. “The Universe gave me a reason to get this done right now. An online component has always been on deck for One Urban Tribe, but 2020 moved it to the top of the list.”
When reflecting on the importance of International Women’s Day in March, she acknowledges two women who have had the most profound influence on her in her business: her mother and her step-mother. Her mother, who passed away 12 years ago, encouraged her to follow her heart and continue with her art.
“My mother was really the one who told me to follow my art and worry about the money later. When people tell artists that they can’t live out their dream doing what they love and support themselves, -it is really disappointing. And most importantly– it’s bullshit. I sell my own art, and other people’s art (who are in turn, supporting themselves), and the design sense that I’ve cultivated vitally serves me every day.”
“My store is the kind of shop that I would have wanted to go into with my mother when I was a kid, where we would just have looked at all of the little odd things together. I have so many good memories of her like that, saying: ‘Oh that’s a cute little shop, let’s go in’. It was such a pure, discovery experience and now it’s a way connect to those memories.”
Her step-mother has been an important mentor on the back-end of her business, helping her navigate the confusing world of accounting and taxes, which is just as important when running a successful business as curating the space and products. Fox says that it is nice to have someone she can call and who understands that this aspect of business can be intimidating and who helps you build skills and experience until it is no longer something to fear.
Her shop has always focused on small, handmade and fair-trade makers with a spiritual slant, with that spirituality being close to nature and open to interpretation by the customer. She is mindful as people shift to urban living, we are leaving behind a lot of quiet in nature. Touching natural objects or taking something home brings that bit of nature into your urban loft in Lowell and it can help create a soothing environment.
When describing her shop she says, “I’ve always wanted to replicate the feeling that you have when you open that little box of things that you’ve collected since your childhood. Everyone has one of these; it’s probably stashed under your bed. Maybe every once in a while you pull it out and pick it up and it’s got that shiny rock that you found, and this little pretty shell, and that thing that your mother gave you. Things that you found, something you bought in that cute little store when you were traveling and you don’t know why, but you just connected to it.
There is a feeling that these things are somehow kind of sacred and it’s very personal and private, it’s a very special and specific emotion. I think that is one of the purest human rituals that there is. I think that we all share that. We add to this special box of objects over our lives since childhood. I want the store to feel like that. But in a way that it is not just tucked away under your bed, in a way that people can share and interact. It’s a very vulnerable, tender part of people. No matter who you grew up to be, whatever is in that box is still special to you. You can still reach the person who collected that.”
“The store is basically my giant, overblown box of special things. I want to come into work and constantly be surrounded by all of my favorite collections, and to be able to share them with people. ”