I met Stacy Borocz of etuHOME in a former “merchandising” life. She was a tireless retailer then and now she is an indefatigable and uber-manufacturer of the most beautiful homeware re-creations. It was great to catch up with her and now that you can find her special creations on-line, I can share them with you on In The Groove.
Name, Age, where do you live?
Stacy Borocz. 58 years old. I live in Atlanta, GA but spend time in Budapest, Hungary where our etuHOME brand is made.
Give us an overview of your career.
I have a classic retail background as a merchant with Federated Department Stores and the British Retailer, WH Smith. It was the merchant in me that led to the creation of etuHOME. In early 2000 I found myself living as an expat in Budapest, Hungary. The timing turned out to be the perfect storm as I became familiar with the treasures of a city that had remained dormant through 50 years of communist rule and was just at that very moment, opening up to the West. The juxtaposition of the glamourous yet fading 19th century architecture on the brink of great change was so fascinating that I took steps to share its history, culture and craftsmanship with American consumers back home.
The end result was a company founded on recreating authentic European accents centered around the quintessential European lifestyle and the enduring belief that life is best enjoyed surrounded by family, friends, good food and better wine.
Tell us about what you are doing now.
Today I am busier than ever, which for me, is quite exciting. After building the Europe2You wholesale business for the past 18 years, we decided to expand the product offerings with a direct to consumer model under the etuHOME brand name. We launched etuHOME about a year ago online and to select high-end retailers that we felt confident would merchandise the collection properly. The response towards etuHOME has been phenomenal .
What was your ‘aha moment’ for etuHOME?
We created the etuHOME brand because we recognized the importance of how a beautiful meal shared with loved ones is one of the most treasured gifts of life. Let’s be honest, there is nothing better than sitting around a table having a meal with the people you love.
Where do you source your materials?
All of our materials are sourced from Budapest and made by hand by local artisans. Our sourcing efforts are truly the heart and soul of the company. We utilize 19th century timber, recycled glass and sustainably harvested beams to craft our products. As buildings in and around Budapest fall into demolition, we are able to salvage the beams used to support them. We create classically rooted kitchen furniture and cuisine accent pieces without negatively impacting the environment.
Where do you get your design inspiration from? What is inspiring you the most right now?
Kitchens in Europe are so incredibly fascinating to me, particularly because they evoke the warm “farm-to-table” feeling of sharing a good meal with those you love where lunch turns to dinner and family gathers round. At etuHOME we pay special attention to the feeling that this setting evokes. We execute this passion through the hand of the artist as we re-create the daily objects that once filled the European kitchen. Oak Charcuterie Boards, Baguette Trays, Chop Blocks, Hand Hewn Bread Bowls, Stoneware Crocks and Olive Jars are staples in the etuHOME kitchen. These objects boast time honored techniques and a storied past. They offer a specific sense of stability and warmth fostering the quest for connection and grounding.
I am an avid traveler and travel is always inspiring for me. I recently traveled to Southern Spain where our Rush Baskets are crafted and cannot get the ceramic tile out of my mind. Geometric designs in hues of blue, white and yellow are inspiring the products we are creating right now. I can’t wait to see the first samples!
etuHome was founded on the practice of sustainability. How can we be more sustainable in our lives when it comes to decorating and entertaining?
Sustainability can be practiced in so many ways. Paying attention to what you buy and where it comes from and how it’s made is a great start. Each piece we create is rooted in the classics and therefore it must be hand crafted from sustainable materials in order to be truly authentic. While we utilize precision equipment in our factory, each new piece is finished by hand in old world style, ensuring a piece of the past resonates with future generations. Being environmentally responsible is clearly the right thing to do, and, it just feels good. When you purchase something that is sustainably responsible, you are not only helping the environment, you are also purchasing a product that inherently is better quality. By using 19th century beams, so trees that were culled around 1880, we are using the same authentic wood as the originals. It’s the real and honest materials that not only add value to our pieces but help authenticate all of our collections.
Style is more than just the clothes we wear. It’s how we live our lives. How would you describe your style, whether it’s your home or your closet?
Definitely classic with a modern twist.
You used to be a buyer and now you’re an entrepreneur. What was that transition like? What advice do you have for women who want to make a big change in their careers but are too nervous or scared?
As a buyer, you are spending your company’s money, as an entrepreneur, you are spending your own! Nevertheless, my advice would be to follow your passion and listen to your intuition- it never lies. Most of us know what we love and what we’re good at but it’s sometimes challenging to break away from your comfort zone and start something new. Fear of the unknown can be paralyzing , but if you truly listen to your gut, it will guide you in the right direction. I also believe change is good and exciting and extremely important for personal growth. As one ages or better put, matures, change can be liberating.
You used to live in Budapest. Do you ever miss living in there?
We still have a home in Budapest and try and spend as much time as possible there. We will also be opening a flagship store there in September, which is extremely exciting.
Culturally, aging is viewed as this sad thing. In reality, I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t feel bad or sad. I feel better than ever. What’s the key to changing the conversation about aging?
I find maturity, therefore aging, liberating, and I am enjoying life now more than ever. With age comes knowledge, confidence, passion and perspective. I find that all of these things fuel my life and have enabled me to take the business where it is today. No matter how old you are, there is simply nothing better than gathering around the table with your family for a special meal. Personally, I am reaping the rewards of parenthood as my husband and I are embarking on the next chapter of expanding our family. I have an 11-month old grandson in Budapest and this summer we will be celebrating the marriages of both our son and daughter, and for that I am so incredibly grateful. It’s a good reminder that even though we are getting older, there are many exciting new beginnings to look forward to.
What’s the best thing you’ve read lately?
I recently re-read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. It was originally recommended to me by a fellow ex-pat when we first moved to Budapest. It rings true that no matter how meticulously you plan, things don’t always turn out the way you think they will.
What’s your go-to hostess gift?
Without a doubt, the etuHOME mod charcuterie board. It seems Oprah chose it for a reason, it’s versatile, traditional and modern at the same time and goes in every home no matter the décor. The hardest part is choosing between crisp white, impressive black or classic navy.
What was your last Google search?
Wedding invitation dress codes. My son, daughter and niece are all getting married over the next three months, on three different continents to boot, so not only do I have weddings on the brain, I have the “what to wear” dilemma top of mind.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
I love Marion Cotillard. She’s a diverse actress, a proud environmentalist and she can sing, and I cannot. (but secretly always wished I could!)
What’s the last thing you bought online?
I am almost embarrassed to say this, but a mother-of-the groom dress! Saw it, loved it, ordered it, ran it to the dressmaker, done!
If you could have one superpower what would it be?
No need for sleep.
If you had a warning label what would it say?
“Do not lie to Stacy.” If I don’t trust you, I don’t have time for you.
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