Alexander Six | Six & Sons
New to the popular shopping street, the Haarlemmerdijk, is the concept store/coffee bar,
(just a few doors down
). Former art director and set designer Alexander Six always had a passion for interior design, and launching a webshop a
year ago was just the first step. Now, Six & Sons has manifested itself as a crafted and beautifully curated space with a unique selection of products including Swedish
from Portland, Oregon. Its raw and manly interior is anything but cold, people have flocked to the newest hotspot for
not only its great selection of products but the café upstairs, serving cups of coffee and tasty treats. We spoke to the man behind it all, Alexander Six, to find out more.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was an art director for films and commercials for 10 years, where I was responsible for set design and decor. In 2007 I designed the interior of Olivers , a restaurant in the Zuidas, and started to do more of that kind of work (with apartments, etc.) I’ve always been passionate about interior design and collecting beautiful things, and I finally realized that I wanted to have my own shop, a place where I could collect and sell all those beautiful things I had found. That’s really how it happened. Just a year ago I started doing this part-time, next to my work. Two days a week I traveled to markets, looking for pieces to fix up, and sold them online in my webshop . Before I knew it I was presenting my collection at markets in the city, at Hutspot , and at the Woonbeurs. It was then that I decided, now is the time to start doing this for real.
Six & Sons went from being a webshop to a physical shop on the Haarlemmerdijk. What has your experience been so far?
The webshop was a safe way to see if people were interested in the concept. Not that it’s easy to maintain - a webshop is just a like a real shop, but perhaps even more complicated because it doesn’t have a physical location. You really have to make sure people can find you. Hutspot really helped me with that. We’re talking about vintage furniture here, and people always want to try out a chair or hold a product before buying it. I guess the webshop functioned as a catalogue, sending people to check out the products at Hutspot.
Since then it’s been a roller coaster ride. I had a stand at the Woonbeurs in October, and around that time I went to check out this location. Three weeks later it was mine. Crumpler, the store that was here at the time, needed three weeks to pack up. Renovating took another three weeks and then I opened the doors. It all went very quickly! But I’ve received many compliments on the assortment of products and on the shop’s interior - I’m very happy.
Can you tell us a little more about the concept? And why the name ‘Six & Sons’?
It’s a shop and a coffee bar for several reasons. Six & Sons is my universe of things that I consider beautiful, and things I like. And I really like good coffee. Then, I sell a lot of furniture and the best way to to do that is to let people use it. And in the café, people can try out the chairs and use the tables. I also really like that people come and go, it’s very lively. People may come for a cup of coffee or a cabinet or a sweater or bar of soap, it’s all possible. That’s what I like the most - it’s more than a shop, it’s a mini-warehouse.
Then the name, Six & Sons. Well, my last name is Six, and I consider myself to be the curator. My ‘sons’ are the craftsmen, the artists and the designers who have either made the products or have given the products a new life. A lot of the old pieces I sell have had many different lives, and that ‘wear and tear’ was made possible by the sons. This shop also has two official ‘sons’, whose products can be found in the shop including UNDSCVRD.com , a webshop with a collection of bags and accessories for men, and The Hunting Ensemble , a webshop with menswear.
I sell products from all over the world, from America to Japan to Scandinavia to China. I'm usually in contact with small businesses, like these two girls in Portland who sell bars of soap , and they’re just excited to see their products sold in the world. Making those connections has been really great – I can now fill up so many vacations to cities all over the world!
Would you say that the city of Amsterdam inspires you?
Definitely. I think cities in general are very inspiring. I love the fast pace and I think the people are inspiring, they're usually one step ahead in terms of aesthetic and wants and needs as compared to people in the countryside. I think the city also has a lot to do with the success of the shop. And the street especially. I consider the people who walk down this street to be more open and honest. They’re not here just to buy something. They're here for the experience. That’s why I really enjoy being able to invite people in for a coffee.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My girlfriend and I, we're not morning people. Our mornings are quite chaotic and we’re always running to get our daughter to school and our son to daycare. After I drop my daughter off, I bike to the shop. I usually get here at around 8.30am so I have some time before I open the shop at 9am. Everyday is quite different. I might work behind the counter, examine the inventory in the basement, travel to markets to find new items, or go to the workshop to fix up old pieces.
I’m focusing on the store for now. I can do so many different things with this space, it’s exciting. I think that by opening the store, I have proven my abilities as an interior designer and I hope to do more in this line of work. I also want to collaborate with others and make new products, for example, with UNDSCVRD, The Hunting Ensemble, or Hutspot. We’re also looking into selling more women’s clothing in the future – clothing with a manly touch. And I’ll continue to add to the assortment, to find and buy beautiful products, and sell them. I’m just going to focus on doing that for a year, and then we’ll see!
Thank you Alexander for this interview, and all the best to you! Six & Sons is located on the Haarlemmerdijk 31 and is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm and Saturday and Sunday from 10m to 6pm.