Flea Style Stories: Sabon Home
Sam Riahi and her husband sold their set of Oregon grocery stores to retire to Texas a couple of years ago. Today they curate vintage and found decorative pieces in an eclectic array of styles. Think: Chinoiserie pottery, Southwestern blankets, French cookware and midcentury vases. They sell their collection online and joined the Flea Style family in the spring of 2016, when they participated in their first show with us. “We were hooked!” Sam says. “It opened a door for us to take a direction with something that was just an idea at the time.”
Where did the idea for Sabon Home come from?
I always wanted to do interior design. I spent a whole career doing something else — visual displays for Nordstrom, owning two grocery stores — and found my way back to what I love once we retired and moved to Texas in 2015. I thought maybe, just maybe there was something I could do with curating home decor full time after realizing I was a little bored in retirement.
Has the idea for Sabon Home changed from day one?
Sabon Home has been an evolution. It wasn’t about the money, it was about the fulfillment, so I really didn’t put any expectations on what I was doing and just let the wind blow me wherever it would take me. It started in 2014 with a blog on Tumblr. I gathered tons of design inspiration from Pinterest to foresee popular colors and things that are on-trend. I thought I would only sell online but now I love doing shows. I can’t wait to see what’s next!!
How has your past jobs and experience influenced the way you run the business?
Spending most of my career as a business owner of two stores has helped so much. I also really have no fear of taking chances because I know my effort will produce a result so I kind of just go for it. I understood early on how higher volumes of items generate excitement and give customers options. Sucess is all about doing the very best with what you are given.
You mentioned your husband helps you in the business. What is his role and how is it working together?
My sweet hubby acts as my assistant, he helps me scout items when we are out (we divide and conquer at sales), he encourages me and we have so much fun together doing this because it is all at our pace and on our terms while doing what we are passionate about.
What has been the best part of Sabon Home?
Seeing how excited customers are about our items is the ultimate fulfillment and reward in this.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing when you started what would it be?
I never look back. Because I always attempt to do my very best, I am confident that I made the best decisions at the time with the knowledge I had. I think things happen the way they are supposed to when you let go and trust in tomorrow.
Where and how do you shop for your items? Do you create any items?
We shop one or two full ten to twelve hour days a week. We go to estate sales, auctions, thrift stores, antique malls, garage sales, etc. My problem is that I always find more than I need and have to leave awesome things behind. I refinish furniture and home accents, make terrariums and re-purpose items. It’s fun to create something beautiful out of junk.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a business?
Trust in your ability. If you love what you do it will never seem like work. If you have fun you can’t fail.
One thing you’ve “found” and sold that was hard to give up….
Everything! I’m joking, but it is hard to sell most of the items. I sold a globe once that I regretted. I’ve never seen anything like it since.
The summer trend you can’t live without?
African ‘Baule’ cloth from Ghana. The colors are summery and bright, it’s soft to the touch and lightweight. It’s great for pillows or to use as a throw blanket and it works with every style.
Your favorite thing about vintage finds are….
The quality, uniqueness and that timeworn appeal!
Where do you see Sabon Home in five years?
Oh gosh, who knows! But I can’t wait! I know I don’t want my own store. I prefer to stay selective with who I work with and where I place my items. But I’m not in this to be a big company, I’ve done that. I know we will stay small because that is what works for us because it stays more personal, we can work directly with people and customers and this is what we love. If it were 15 years ago I would say there would be no limit.
What essentials do you like to surround yourself with in your workspace?
Pictures of my mom and family, items my mom made for me, little trinkets and gifts from my old employees… It is actually the one one space in my home that is the most personal. And music! I love music and I love it loud. The type always depends on my mood.
What is one thing many people don’t know about you?
I am a daredevil! I love speed, heights, climbing places I’m not supposed. I’m addicted to adrenaline!
Sunrise or sunset?
Sunrise, it’s quiet and peaceful.
Coffee or tea?
Netflix or Amazon Prime?
Snapchat or Instagram Stories?
Dogs or cats?
Dogs are for me!
Cupcakes or cookies?
Pompoms or tassels?
Your making me choose?! Tassels.