We had the good fortune of connecting with Hubbard and Marcee Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hubbard and Marcee, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
We’ve always played with different business concepts and hadn’t pursued any because we couldn’t afford to or didn’t feel strongly enough about their feasibility to pursue investors. Housework was ultimately born of the realization that we could probably put together a pretty unique online store with minimal investment if we just did absolutely everything ourselves and kept our overhead extremely low. Between the two of us we have experience in writing, research, photography, merchandising, sales, and marketing, and we’re passionate about learning so we figured we’d figure the rest out on the job.
Looking at how many successful businesses aren’t really particularly special or interesting was kind of an inspiration too, honestly, as we figured the combination of providing a unique, high-quality shopping experience (providing a one-stop curated shop for a holistic, plastic-free, non-toxic lifestyle that really digs deep into materials and production, with aesthetics in mind) while keeping costs down would be a recipe for success, and that with patience we would scale to a point where growth and expansion came about organically.
What should our readers know about your business?
Housework is an experimental retail project dedicated to the concept of a holistic household – a living space in which all aspects of all objects are given careful consideration. Consideration as to how they were made, by whom, with what materials, from where, with what physical impact on the maker, the user, the Earth, with what emotional impact on those same beings, and then ultimately their functionality, durability, and end of life. That’s the short but nebulous version.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We live in the Bay Area, which like LA means that if we’re going to show folks a good time it means covering a lot of ground, and doing our best to keep out of traffic. We spend too much time inside already, so we pretty much exclusively hang outdoors, plenty of that just at home or around the neighborhood, punctuating our day-trip destinations with pitstops at restaurants that source their ingredients well because we’re 100% food obsessed.
East Bay is all about the Berkeley Botanical Gardens for us. Breakfast at Beauty’s Bagels, lunch at Ramen Shop for sure. If we need groceries, the Temescal Farmers’ Market and Monterey Market are some favorites, though every once in a while it’s definitely worth it to brave the hustle of Berkeley Bowl for some killer, harder-to-find produce items.
A day in San Francisco would be split between Fort Funston, Fort Miley, Golden Gate Park, and Bernal Park. Too many great food resources in SF to even list them.
Another day we’d drive down the 280 and cross the Santa Cruz Mountains to Pescadero Beach and chill there for half the day, maybe getting Jamaican food in San Jose at Reggae Pot or Mexican at Luna. If the Palo Alto Farmer’s Market is open we definitely stop by and pick up dim sum from Tru Gourmet. Mountain View Farmer’s Market is one of the best in the Bay even though it’s an absolute madhouse.
Point Reyes the town and surrounding hikes could easily be a whole day, eating lunch or dinner at Osteria Stellaria, or going up the whole Sonoma coastline and coming back via the Russian River and Sebastopol. So much good food all around that area. Food Mechanic is the best place to grab a quick bite, Retrograde Coffee, Community Market…
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We have so many wonderful influences that set us on our path to be grateful for. Largely, our shared backgrounds in art, food, psychedelics, as well as a deep personal commitment to learning, and the ways in which those things converged for us helped us craft the very particular business that is Housework.
We’re big book nerds, so much of Housework’s specifics come from things we learned from the following books: Fibershed: Growing a Movement of Farmers, Fashion Activists, and Makers for a New Textile Economy by Rebecca Burgess and Courtney White, The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor by Mark Schatzker, Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, and Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller.
Those are just the tip of the iceberg, really, but will give anyone who reads them a serious head start in terms of understanding our current relationship to the material world, natural and synthetic. Cannot recommend them enough.
Hubbard M. Jones