By Megan Douress & Caitlin Maloney
Photography by Melissa Kelly
It was back in 2011, when Kathy Piccari and Taryn Rager first met while working for a large national retailer. Kathy was a store manager and Taryn was one of her sales managers. The two had an instant bond and started taking advantage of the freedom and flexibility they were given by corporate headquarters to make their regional store their own—they often revamped the store layout and window displays and quickly grew fond of merchandising.
“Visual merchandising was really something we were interested in—layouts, colors, putting things together—it was kind of a highlight for us and something we took to quickly,” Kathy remembered.
“And we always had these great out-of-the-box ideas when designing floor plans, and they would work!” Taryn added.
As the women’s professional relationship grew, it quickly turned into a personal friendship as well. But when the large national retailer expanded, and they no longer had the creative freedom to put their own designs into place, Kathy and Taryn each made the hard decision to part ways with the company. Kathy took some time off to figure out where her career would take her next, while Taryn took a job as a manager in charge of visual. As two women who worked well together and shared some of the same interests, they stayed in touch and always hoped to work together again someday. They recounted the dream they used to speak about when designing those store layouts and window displays—a dream of one day having an interior design business of their own—and what they realized, was that that dream could now be a reality.
Together, Kathy and Taryn, launched Harris & Tweed Interiors, named after their love of the popular textile Harris Tweed. At first, Harris & Tweed Interiors was solely run out of Kathy’s home. But, their newly established design business was quickly gaining popularity and they knew they eventually needed a place of their own.
“We were looking for more of an office space because we were growing so quickly,” Kathy said. “We looked for space everywhere—Conshohocken, Flourtown, Hatboro, Horsham, Plymouth Meeting, and couldn’t really find anything we liked.”
Then, a mutual friend introduced them to Gary and Norma Mann, who had recently renovated a historic storefront located at 4347 Main Street, which was previously home to A.I. Poland Jewelers since the 1890’s. The space still boasts many of the historic elements of the time, including the wood encased front window and original tin ceiling, which eventually became the inspiration for their logo.
“There was something about the energy of the space,” Kathy said. “We knew it was the right fit the minute we walked in and we signed the lease nine days later in April of 2015.”
With the lease signed, Kathy and Taryn began talking about their growing business, and eventually came to the conclusion that Taryn would have to leave her full-time retail position to get the business where they wanted it to be. That May, Taryn left her job and the two were fully dedicated to creating a name for Harris & Tweed Interiors.
Moving into the new office space was a big risk for the new business owners. Not being as familiar with Manayunk as other areas of the city, they weren’t initially sure if the neighborhood was in the market for a business like theirs, but after touring Main Street with Norma and seeing the other businesses on the street, they knew it was the right fit.
“Everyone was so welcoming,” Taryn said. “I think everybody understands that there needs to be this dynamic between the small business owners because if not, then what are we here for? Why are we in a small business? Why are we trying to help this community grow? I think that was the biggest piece.”
“And, now that Manayunk is revived, we see a lot of amazing, positive, influential things happening to the community,” Kathy added. “We thought this was a really great time to be here.”
When it came time to think of a name for the studio, they wanted to incorporate a symbol of hospitality into their business name. Pineapple is a symbol of warmth, friendship, and hospitality, and thus, Pineapple on Main was born. Although Kathy and Taryn had a new storefront to call their own, they didn’t have a solid plan for what they wanted to do with the space. Initially it was used as a studio to meet with interior design clients and also as a place to stage inspirational design concepts.
“It was funny,” Taryn laughed in retrospect. “People would come in and ask, ‘What do you do here?’ It was always a desk and then a vignette set up, or a long table in the center. People would ask if items were for sale and they never really got it.”
“This studio had so much potential and we knew it,” Kathy added. “We came in thinking we were only going to do design and styling and the studio would set itself up on its own, but that didn’t happen. It was very difficult.”
As time went on, they found that attracting local design clients was easy, but sourcing local décor for projects was more of a challenge—they often had to travel long distances to source them. Customers also continued to ask if design pieces in their studio were for sale, and that’s when Kathy and Taryn knew there was a desire for a home decor store in Manayunk. It seemed natural for them to go back to their roots—retail.
And in the Fall of 2015, they stumbled upon the home decor brand, Zestt. Kathy and Taryn immediately fell in love with the brand’s style and aesthetic and knew Zestt products were the first line they wanted to bring into the studio.
“We talked about just having a section of the studio that would be a retail space, but when we stumbled upon Zestt’s bedding, we started looking at all of Zestt’s products,” Taryn said. “We were kind of in love with all of them! So, we just ran with that. That became our full vision for the store.”
What Kathy and Taryn didn’t know was that ironically, the textile company out of Chambersburg, PA had done a pop-up shop in the very same storefront just two years prior. Coincidentally, this past summer, Pineapple on Main got a facelift—the outside of the storefront was refreshed with light grey paint and an added pop of color to the front door, which is now a welcoming shade of yellow. It wasn’t until Kathy and Taryn went down to Atlanta and met up with owners of Zestt, Benita Goldblatt and Jess Diehl, that they realized the underlying significance of their color choice. When they told the owners about their new paint job and their yellow door, Benita and Jess told them that their original blog was called “Behind the Yellow Door.” “It gave me chills, we couldn’t believe it,” Kathy said.
It almost seems like fate, that they stumbled upon the Zestt brand and began their own retail venture together. Although Zestt provided beautiful foundation pieces to the store, Kathy and Taryn continued to search for additional products they wanted to bring in. They sunk every dollar they had into bringing inventory into the space, but since they didn’t initially plan to be a retail store, they had to grow their inventory slowly, being selective about the items they brought in.
“We didn’t walk into an already existing franchise, we had to build it from the ground up,” Kathy said.
Though they didn’t have a lot of money, what they did have was determination, creativity and design skill. Since most of their investment went toward new inventory, the other elements of the business—store fixtures and branding had to be done at minimal cost. Several trips to Ikea later along with homemade tags and hand-stamped bags, and their brand started to come together.
“It was like retail on a dime—I hate to use that cliché, but that’s exactly what it was,” Kathy said.
When it came to making their inventory available online, instead of paying thousands for a web design company, Taryn took it upon herself to create the website so their customers can now shop online and on Main. And another way Kathy and Taryn go creative with their inventory, was by bringing in local artists on a consignment basis.
“Not only do we have the chance to help other small businesses get their start or even reach a larger demographic, but doing consignment afforded us the opportunity to bring in more products,” Kathy said.
The last big push for Pineapple on Main, was a Kiva Zip loan they recently received. Through the program, community members, family, friends, and even strangers around the world contributed to the microloan to help Pineapple on Main expand their business. In just a few short days, and through lots of social media promotion, Kathy and Taryn reached their goal of crowdfunding $5,000 which went directly toward expanding the inventory in the store.
It’s now been a full year since Pineapple on Main opened their doors as an established retail merchant on Main Street. What started as a studio with a few Zestt products has now become home to a full inventory of products from designers and companies across the United States. From candles to dishware and kitchen accessories to baby room decor, as they say, Pineapple on Main has the home decor you’ve been pining for.
Though most of their time is dedicated to their retail business, which is now in full swing, Kathy and Taryn still offer interior design consulting through their design business, Harris & Tweed Interiors. And now, instead of sourcing home decor items from other providers, they can decorate their clients’ homes with items right from their own shop.
When looking for products to bring in, Kathy and Taryn look for natural, clean, and classic items that have a mid-century modern aesthetic—items that can be used in any home. Taryn joked that they can simply look at each other and know if a product is the right fit to bring into Pineapple on Main.
“A lot of our pieces are very versatile. Between holidays or within our staple pieces, you can take one thing and use it three different ways,” Taryn said. “We want you to be able to move things around within your home if you get bored with a room.”
And speaking of holidays, Pineapple on Main has everything to not only get your home ready for the holidays, but also cross some items off your gift buying list. From festive holiday mixing bowls to barware and coasters, or cozy blankets and pillows for cold winter nights in with the family, Pineapple on Main has it all.
So, what professional advice do two interior designers have when it comes to decorating your home for the holidays?
“Use what you have!” Taryn said. “You don’t have to reinvent the entire room. There are little elements that you can add to become holiday ready.”
Kathy added, “You can use greens and berries to add a holiday touch anywhere. You can have every day dishware and just add to it—switch it out with a holiday napkin or linen.”
Sitting with them and feeling their energy, you can tell that Kathy and Taryn are not only good at what they do, but it’s clear that they have fun doing it. They’ve been bouncing design ideas off of each other for years now, so people who hear they’re now business partners certainly aren’t surprised.
“I think a lot of people think we don’t actually work because we’re always laughing together!” Taryn joked. “It’s our personalities—we’re out there enjoying our business and enjoying our life.”
“Having a partner-in-crime during this whole venture has been the best thing,” Kathy added. “There are ups and downs, but we work through them and create an even stronger bond and business.”
They find themselves lucky to not only have each other, but support from other business owners and longtime Main Street shoppers who fondly reminisce about the storefronts history. Now, Kathy and Taryn feel like they’re making a history of their own as a home decor and gift destination and hope to be here as long as Poland’s was, serving Manayunk families for years to come.
These days, when Kathy and Taryn walk into the store, they can’t believe it's all theirs—in a good way that makes them both proud and terrified, Kathy joked.
“This is a dream job for us!” she said. “We wanted to do this for so long and had no idea how to make it happen. By the grace of God, we’re here, we’re doing it, and it’s beautiful.”
Visit the Manayunk Development Corporation Contact page for full contact information.
Office: 4312 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127