To walk through the front door of Loyal Supply Co. is to experience immediate, overwhelming design envy. Warm hardwood floors welcome passersby inside, where immaculate white pegboard walls host stylish home and office accessories, and an adorable mutt named Huckleberry snoozes on the stairs. A restored printing press sits in the shop’s center, ready to produce posters and greeting cards. And then, there are the products: fine leather goods, jewelry and everything from pens to planters to pennants ripped from the pages of the life you briefly dare to dream about as you flip through an issue of Dwell. The beautifully designed space is so well put together that it caught the eye of the renowned blog Design Sponge earlier this year.
But Loyal Supply Co. is more than just a pretty place. Cofounders Kimberly LaFoy and Ryan Habbyshaw spent years in the corporate world—Habbyshaw worked at local firm IDEO and LaFoy planned events at an ad agency downtown—and when they left their jobs last year, the plan was to go into business for themselves as an independent design firm. A friend of the duo was sunsetting his metal working shop at 21 Union Sq., and Habbyshaw and LaFoy were ready to take over the lease for their new offices.
“But when we got in the space and we started cleaning it up, we were like, ‘It’s kind of a shame to board up the windows and never be open to the public,'” says Habbyshaw. “We thought, ‘Well, let’s take a risk and open… not necessarily a retail store, but a design shop.'”
The Loyal Supply Co. storefront is one where every item is carefully made with painstaking care—from product concept to packaging and everything in between. Every decision about what the shop will stock is informed with an eye to design, and as a result the shelves are full of iconic wares that have stood the test of time as well as works from modern makers putting that timeless touch into their own craft. “Everything in here has a story,” says Habbyshaw. That includes the items designed and made by Habbyshaw and LaFoy, including a leather “Loyal Leash” inspired by and imprinted with a silhouette of Huckleberry.
But the backbone of Loyal Supply Co. is Loyal, the full-service design company run by Habbyshaw and LaFoy. If the retail space is a little on the cozy side, that’s only because the building also houses an upstairs office space where they sketch out their own plans and a basement workshop for building and testing new products and pieces. The storefront is, in a way, a showroom of sorts, a place where the pair can display items they’ve made alongside works that speak to their aesthetic. But to fully understand the range of services offered by Loyal, look no further than the work they did with Aeronaut Brewing Co. Habbyshaw drew up the Aeronaut logo, and the pair designed the bar and taproom. LaFoy planned and organized the brewery’s launch event.
Not content to only be a design firm/event planning company/distributor of fine home goods/leather shop, Loyal also houses a restored letterpress. Green and rusty when it was found, the hardware was fine-tuned with the help of Union Press and Repeat Press, and now it works like a dream, printing exclusive works designed by Loyal and in collaboration with other area artists. One of the aims of Loyal is to connect local producers with each other and with the people in their community. Many of the items on the Loyal Supply Co. shelves are exclusives you can’t find anywhere else—collaborative works of art that LaFoy and Habbyshaw have developed with potters, graphic designers and printers in the neighborhood. “We really strive to have as many small makers as we can,” says LaFoy.
That community connectivity came full circle last month, when LaFoy organized the first in a series of “Meet the Makers” events at the shop. Loyal Supply Co. welcomed the talented Cambridge leatherworkers behind the Infinite Series into the store to rub shoulders, eat Union Square Donuts and sip Aeronaut brews with shoppers in the square. Throughout the course of the evening, the small space hosted close to 60 people who stopped in to talk shop (and to actually shop) with these gifted local designers.
“We’re trying to have it be more than ‘Look at all these independent people making this cool stuff,'” Habbyshaw explains. “It’s more like, ‘Look at all these people coming together to make things.”