The Shop

Our Shop Launched 200+ Products for the Holidays. Here’s How We Did It.

Two words: plan ahead.

November 12, 2018
Photo by Ty Mecham

In 2014, a year after our Shop opened its doors, Senior Director of Buying Jojo Feld ventured to a potter’s studio in Brooklyn. The maker: Kim Gilmour. Her business: Fisheye Brooklyn. The Shop was selling some of Gilmour’s soup bowls, but Feld wanted to see what else she was working on.

“I noticed shelves of unglazed organic-shaped pinch bowls,” Feld remembered. “Hundreds of them.”

Gilmour was experimenting with glazes. So Feld thought: What about an exclusive Food52 glaze for the holiday season? Gilmour loved working with metallics. Feld loved the idea of a gold dip. One thing led to another and, soon enough, the Gold-Dipped Pinch Bowls were ready. They sold out in a few weeks. Every holiday season since, Gilmour creates new colors, patterns, and shapes.

But that gold dip sticks around.

For 2018, Gilmour and the Shop team wanted to develop something even more ambitious: dinnerware. So she and Feld met up over a few beers to brainstorm and, just like in 2014, had what Feld calls a duh moment. The dinnerware should feature the Food52-favorite gold dip. Duh!

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“lol your family read it!”
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“These are beautiful, organic handmade shapes, and earth-inspired tones, but with a touch of gold for a celebratory feel,” Feld told me. In other words: Turkey and mashed potatoes has never looked better.

This year, the Shop launched over 200 products for the holiday season. Which is to say, take the Gold-Dipped Pinch Bowls’ story, multiply it by over 200, and you get a sense of the team’s workload this time of the year. As Feld phrased it: “Bonkers!”

But it’s always sort of bonkers around here.

According to Feld and Director of Merchandising and Product Development Kristina Wasserman, “We never stop planning for holiday.” Like, this season’s Great Gift List has been over a year in the making, and they’re literally already planning for November and December of 2019. And to think, I haven’t even figured out what dessert I’m making for Thanksgiving in a few weeks.

I asked Feld and and Wasserman where they find inspiration. The better question, it turned out, would’ve been: Where don’t they? The Shop team has traveled all over the world for its work, from Frankfurt to Paris to Japan. This year, they visited cookware factories in Burgundy from the 1800s, seaside Normandy towns for design inspiration, and a Japanese knife factory.

But they’re just as likely to find something around the corner. If you’re in New York City and see someone turning over a dinner plate at a restaurant and asking the waiter a lot of questions, do call out, “Food52 Shop team! Is that you?!” (If you’re wrong, don’t @me.)

“We're not just looking for products, but also hearing the stories of the people behind them,” Feld said. “A core part of the Shop is storytelling, and we go to the source to hear them firsthand.”

“I noticed shelves of unglazed organic-shaped pinch bowls,” Feld remembered. “Hundreds of them.”

Indeed, the story behind products has always been important to us. Which is why when we launched our private label Five Two this year (you’ve read all about it, right?), we wanted to create the most Food52-y story of all:

Collaboration, between us and you (and you and you and you). That’s why our Food52 community is co-designing every Five Two product. For our first launch, the double-sided cutting board, this meant over 10,000 people. Because from the beginning, we’ve known that when we work together, it leads to those duh moments. And those duh moments lead to our new favorite things.

Here’s to you finding your new favorite anything this holiday season. If my family is reading this (Hi guys!), I still really want that salt cellar. Just saying.

What’s your go-to gift for the holidays? What’s on your wishlist? Tell us in the comments!

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

1 Comment

Amy L. November 12, 2018
lol your family read it!