Q + A

the voice of conifer’s caitlyn schwarz

Drenched in earthy textures and vibrant plant life, Conifer’s brick and mortar location fosters the imagination for every detail throughout the home — from dreamy tablescapes and dazzling art to handcrafted candles and curated literature.

For owner Caitlyn Shwarz, the beginning of Conifer was not as effortless and breezy as her store’s line of products. Establishing Conifer during the height of 2020’s mandated shutdown gave Caitlyn an edge in an otherwise unpredictable era. By creating a space that highlights an authentic community of makers, Caitlyn persisted with the knowledge that her shop offered a platform for her close-knit band of artists. Below, Caitlyn shares how she falls into a rhythm as a newer business owner.

What’s your story? How did you get started in retail?  

I’ve been working in retail for just over 13 years and have learned a lot from every store, big and small! After years of witnessing first-hand the common disconnect between the maker and the customer, I became passionate about sharing more sustainable and ethical ways to shop within our own communities. Over the years, I have personally transitioned to shopping small and with ethical brands when possible— and that lead me to really value the makers and their stories.

How did you find your space in RiNo?

The shop that was previously in this space was really special to us and we visited often. Unfortunately, the owners were closing up and relocating due to the pandemic and graciously offered the space to me. I was unemployed at the time, so we were hesitant to commit to opening a store during the pandemic. However, the live/work setup was a golden opportunity to create my dream while balancing the risks of retail during unpredictable times.

To what do you attribute your success? What lessons have you learned as a business owner?

My love of fostering an authentic community and creating relationships with artists and makers definitely led to my ability to open my shop. I care deeply about supporting independent creatives and keeping the spotlight on them because they are a driving force behind our culture.

I could write a book on all the lessons I’ve learned as a business owner, but one of the most important ones would be to believe in yourself and don’t give up — it sounds cheesy, but it’s true! There will always be challenges and people who are ready to talk you out of your dream, but there’s a reason for everything. Your dream is your purpose.

In what ways do you manage a work/life balance?

My boyfriend and I — as well as our shop cat, Jerry — actually live inside of our shop! This situation definitely brings on a whole new meaning to a work/life balance! I am still figuring it out, but I have a pretty good rhythm so far. Even though I do spend a lot of time in the same space, the separation of our living space and the shop space make it more functional. Defining work hours and setting reasonable response windows on social media is crucial for a healthy balance. This helps me slow down and keep the focus on why I started Conifer.

How does Conifer support artisans and makers?

Everything we carry at Conifer is slow crafted and intentional. We are here to share the story and experiences of each maker and support them as they continue to grow. We love fostering relationships with the makers and working with them to provide opportunities to show their work — whether they’re well established or just starting out.

“There will always be challenges and people who are ready to talk you out of your dream, but there’s a reason for everything. Your dream is your purpose.”

What are your favorite products in the shop right now?

It’s hard to pick favorites, but I absolutely love the lightweight stone-colored mugs by O’baware. Kazu is a local Japanese artist who crafts his ceramics in small batches out of his home studio. They are truly functional pieces of art made to last! We have quite a few local potters on our shop shelves like Void & Form, Good Hearted Woman and Artisan Artifacts, just to name a few!

What aspects of design do you favor in the products you offer?

I lean toward a more neutral color palette with textures and natural elements that hold your interest. Well-crafted, functional objects that serve a purpose but also have personality are my favorite!

In your opinion, what makes a house a home?

Since the shop is our home, we intentionally built all of our fixtures, like tables and shelves, using reclaimed wood and other natural elements. It was important to me to build this store ourselves as each fixture has a story — much like the makers we carry. I also love adding a wide variety of unique plants to create a warm and inviting space among all of the natural textures.

Define your home’s style in two words:

Intentional and welcoming.

Bring the warmth and intention of artisan wares into your home by visiting Conifer at 3377 Blake Street, Suite 102 in Denver, or online at www.theconifershop.com and @theconifershop.