Fans of Rena and Jason Wilhelm’s shop, The Weathered Barn — formerly known as The White Weathered Barn — on Front Street in Greenport have seen a transformation as the store has continued to grow and blossom along with its owners.
Owner and artist Rena Wilhelm explains that there is a much deeper reason for the change than just a new name — the full new moniker is The Weathered Barn Lifestyle Boutique — but rather, a shift in perspective and direction.
“Change is an interesting word choice as I would much rather describe myself and my style as evolved,” Wilhelm said. “I am not the same person I was 20 years ago, 10 years ago, or even five years ago. The store has always been a ‘lifestyle boutique’ and has always been a reflection of my own likes and dislikes, various influences and life events,” she said.
Wilhelm said what’s important isn’t so much about “what’s trendy. It’s about staying current — but I find that absolutely meaningless if it doesn’t come from within. And the majority of our clientele appreciate the fact that we infuse ourselves not only into our handmade products but that we are infused into the community, as well. The shop is personal, the relationships we develop with our customers are personal and I believe that makes our store a favorable shopping experience,” she said.
By the end of 2013, Wilhelm said she and her team had already begun changing the direction of the shop.
“I subscribed to the ‘shabby chic’, ‘modern country’, ‘coastal living’ styles for well over 10 years,” she said. “However, those styles no longer challenge my creativity or provide meaning to my life. Since we have finally caught up with the darker, rustic and unisex-friendly aesthetic we have been planning, it did not make sense to keep the word ‘white’ in our name.”
The shop, Wilhelm said, is also “absolutely” influenced by twentysomething studio manager Alexa Suess. “Her experience in branding and graphic design has allowed the shop to express itself properly and attain the goals we had set in motion. Working alongside her for over a year now has also brought back my darker side. Alexa is not much different than I was at her age and it is refreshing and liberating to collaborate with her,” she said.
Personally, her shop and work currently reflects a deeply nostalgic journey back into the past, Wilhelm said. “This summer I delved into miniature pen and ink drawings reflective of my childhood.”
Each drawing is an original; the collection contained many trees, tree houses and camping tents, she said.
‘My favorite depicted a picnic basket on a pulley — that was a nod toward my grandmother, who lived above me in our two-family house. She was the queen of ingenuity, sewing and delivering snacks.”
Having added a men’s grooming line, Wilhelm said new additions also include references to the industrial age as well as military influences.
“While I have always been a fan of industrial style, I think it is absolutely derived from my favorite toy growing up, my dad’s erector set. He was an architectural engineer and I found his tools, workbench and drafting table fascinating. He was also a Marine and had the most extensive collection of camping gear and mess kits. This also played a role in my childhood. As for the influence I inherited from my mom? It is her strength, independence, sense of humor and sing-songy nature that remain some of my most recognizable traits.”
The Weathered Barn is located at 41 Front Street in Greenport. For additional information, call 631-477-6811.