Soon after Lauren Smith and Derek Fagerstrom got married, they took a honeymoon road trip across Wyoming and South Dakota. “We were living in New York and we’d grown up in California and never spent any time in the middle part,” Smith said.
As they spent a week driving across the two states, the future founders of the Mission District’s Curiosity Shoppe could not have guessed that their trip would one day help inspire a housewares collection for Target Corp.
About a year ago, the Minneapolis-based big box chain store approached the Curiosity Shoppe owners out of the blue, Smith said. Target representatives checked out the quirky Valencia Street store, emailing Smith a few days later to confirm that they wanted to collaborate.
For the next year, Smith and Fagerstrom worked with a Target team to design and manufacture kitchenwares, stationery and gifts. It was a back-and-forth collaboration, Smith said, but “they were 100 percent respectful of what we wanted.”
The resulting collection is reminiscent of the couple’s road trip. It evokes stretched-out days spent cruising down the highway, the long miles marked by classic motels, roadside attractions and funky diners. The designs pay homage to American landmarks with graphic renderings of places like South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore. A serving platter is decorated with a print of a water tower, a silhouette familiar to anyone who has taken a U.S. road trip. Buffalo-check plaid, suggestive of a picnic blanket spread under an open sky, is a common theme.
“We definitely have a lot of nostalgia for [road trips] personally, and we thought people’s fond memories of taking road trips with their friends and family was a universal theme,” Smith said. Her favorite item in the new collection is a ceramic bowl with an arrowhead design inspired by one of her vintage roadmaps.
The Target collection is inexpensive compared to some of the items carried in the couple’s Valencia Street store; nothing in the collection is more than $25. “I think our stuff is really perfect for a couple who’s just starting their first home because it’s super cheerful, kinda quirky, a little bit retro and very affordable,” Smith said.
Smith declined to provide financial details regarding the deal, but the collaboration with Target clearly represents a huge leap forward for the Mission merchants. The business, which began almost five years ago as an online venture run out of a studio in the outer Mission, moved a year later to its present home at 855 Valencia St.
Now the Curiosity Shoppe has firmly extended the reach of its creative curios beyond the Mission. The product line is available from Target’s website and in stores nationwide until Oct. 20, Smith said.
“We can go into a Target store and see our logo hanging from the ceiling,” Smith said, “and it’s really surreal.”