The vibe of a space is so important. When you walk into a shop, café, or restaurant, the feeling that place gives you is key to your experience — you want to feel comfortable, relaxed, inspired. Friends & Neighbors in Austin does all of those things and more. The name itself hints at what Friends & Neighbors seeks to be – a place for locals to stop in regularly, to hang out with friends, and feel at home.
It was only a little over a year ago that Jill Bradshaw first opened the doors to this unique retail experience that is really unlike any place I’ve been. She purchased a house in East Austin — a very cool up and coming neighborhood in the city — and converted it into a shop with various rooms dedicated to different goods, including a café, and some really amazing vintage hand-picked by Jill (one look at her style, and you know she’s got good taste). The outcome is not a place you just pop in to, it’s a place where you want to sit and stay a while. Read on to get to know a bit more about Jill and see more photos!
Describe Friend’s & Neighbors, to someone who isn’t familiar with it.
Friends & Neighbors is a lil’ bungalow filled with fantasies. Each room takes you on a different journey and is filled with goods associated with that room. The living room and dining room contains a curated selection of vintage clothing as well as housewares and accessories. As you walk through the house you’ll find records in the side room from local favorite End of an Ear record shop, beauty products in the bathroom and textiles in the hallway. In the kitchen we have our cafe where you can get coffee, beer and wine alongside a variety of artisanal dry goods from all over. You can enjoy the day while sitting under our pecan trees in the backyard or in the teepee. It’s a one stop shop with all your needs in one spot. A home away from home!
I love the concept of the space, what inspired the idea?
Thank you! It started with the desire to have coffee alongside vintage and then it grew from there. It made sense to connect the two concepts in a house environment as many businesses are in houses here in Austin. Then the idea came to me to have each room sell items that the room would normally hold. It was really fun to dream up the aesthetics for each room and then see it come to life.
If you could travel back in time or into the future, what year would you visit and why?
That’s a tough question because I don’t identify with just one decade or style. I guess I would probably have to say the late ’60s because people were finding ways to express themselves differently and changing the way we viewed the world. I am a sucker for nostalgia and my home is filled with kitschy things from the ’60s. That decade had a playfulness to it that I really connect with. Now we’re at a place where everything is a copy of the original, I would love to go back to that time and experience all of it firsthand from music to fashion to politics, etc.
What are your top 3 most listened to albums?
Ooooooh hardest thing to pick! I listen to a lot of records at home. These are probably the ones I play the most:
- Fleetwood Mac, Tusk
- Velvet Underground, Loaded
- New Order, Movement
OK this is an easy one. Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger. I’ve read it probably four times. It pushes further than Catcher in the Rye in terms of philosophy and I love how he incorporates Buddhism into his writing. It really says something to me about letting go, turning inwards and finding happiness.
What do you love most about living in Austin?
It’s a magical place! I love the tacos. I love the swimming holes. I love how chill it is. I love how nice and helpful everyone is. And I especially love that some of my favorite spots from the ’90s when I was in college are still here, looking exactly the same, and are just as quirky and amazing as they were then. I hope Austin doesn’t lose that.
List a few places you would recommend to someone new to the city (like me) or visiting:
I would definitely recommend hitting up both Room Service and the Austin Antique Mall. You can find such good treasures there. My favorite swimming hole is Krause Springs because it feels like an oasis. Go to Lockhart for BBQ. Sahara Lounge is a favorite hidden gem bar. There are so many good spots, you just have to explore them all!!
What do you find most challenging and most rewarding about your line of work?
With the infiltration of the internet, things become more homogenized. I think it can be challenging in the retail world to bring something new to the table with an assortment like no other and then on top of that to have people relate to it. But the rewarding part is when people DO relate to it and let you know how much they love your store. That feels great. Also, I just love talking with my customers and meeting new people. It makes my day more worthwhile.
What are you currently working on, what’s next for Friends and Neighbors?
I’d like to continue building my assortment in the retail section with rising talents from around the world. My business partners also co-own Hillside Farmacy here in town and there are some thoughts in the works for the cafe side, more specifically the backyard. We’re looking for the right food truck to plant roots and provide a food option. I just want to continue doing more and more when it comes to events and workshops and photoshoots, etc. There are so many opportunities with the house setup that we can explore. The options are endless.