This is Nomad Yard Collectiv (411 New York Ave. NE), a vintage and antiques store, and an incubator for emerging artists and other vendors. Founder Desirée Venn Frederic sees the space as a “living, breathing” part of the community.
“We reflect the people of the city,” she said. “No matter what part of the globe that they originate from, we continue to tell their stories in a way that’s true to them.”
Venn Frederic, 34, selects each item that comes into Nomad to ensure a cohesive vision that reflects “world culture,” yet remains distinctly Washington. The aesthetic mirrors her personal style, a mix of Asian, Middle Eastern and African cultures.
One Sunday, Venn Frederic towered in a coral-red vintage dress, long-flowing like her hair. Wooden bracelets clacked softly as she spoke.
“One of the things that interests me most ... is telling stories of the past, especially as it relates to times of conflict because there’s this natural narrative that helps tell us what happened.”
“The craftsmanship and history behind these vintage goods tell us a lot about who we are,” she said.
Nomad also stocks the wares of 20 other local brands, such as Chloe Society, a bookstore and community library that is temporarily sharing space there. Nomad is known for helping such start-ups get their footing.
Chloe co-owner Yaani Supreme praises Venn Frederic’s supportive efforts.
“In my imagination, we’re like this superhero squad of revolutionary business-women,” she added.
In February, Venn Frederic opened a satellite space to sell Nomad goods at Mulebone, a Southern-style restaurant (2121 14th St. NW) that is operated by Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal.
Venn Frederic and Shallal see their collaboration at Mulebone (named for the play “Mule Bone” by Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes) as an appreciation for the District’s politics, fashion, literature and art. “All of these elements create D.C.,” Shallal said. “People are looking for something to connect with on a personal level.”
In Mulebone, Silver Spring resident Candance Willett noticed a pair of white, strappy patent-leather sandals with 1980s flare.
“Some of the items and styles here bring me back to my childhood,” she said.
Clothing prices can range from $100 to $300. Other prices vary greatly. A 1971 copy of Kahlil Gibran’s “The Prophet” sells for $15, while a rare 1967 copy of James A. Emanuel’s “Langston Hughes” is $2,000. I found an antique 1900s fabric chair for $398.
Nomad has its challenges. The Union Arts Building where it’s located has been sold, and a boutique hotel is set to go up. Venn Frederic attended zoning hearings and met with D.C. Council members before agreeing to move. She plans to stay in Northeast Washington.
“I don’t simply need the city,” she said. “The city also needs me. ... Small businesses are the ones who employ local constituents.
“We actively invest in the local community. ”■