A rendering of In Seven Words, opening in the Union Market District in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.-based real estate owner, developer and operator Edens, and Guesst, a technology platform that facilitates partnerships between retailers, owners and brands, are collaborating on a co-op for independent makers and direct-to-consumer brands opening in Washington, D.C.’s Union Market district in time for the holiday season.

The 1,500-square-foot space at 1268 Fourth Street NE, will be the first of several, according to Guesst chief executive officer Jay Norris. Called In Seven Words, the store features categories such as fashion, home, art and literature, along with a roster of community experiences. The shop is adjacent to the new La Cosecha marketplace, which celebrates contemporary Latin American culture. Edens, the dominant property owner in the Union Market district, unveiled the 20,000-square-foot Latin American market last summer.

“We know the future of retail is about human engagement and meaningful storytelling,” said Jodie W. MClean, ceo of Edens. “The In Seven Words concept will help us thoughtfully tell the stories of our retail partners and their purpose in a meaningful way. Enriching our community is at the core of everything we do.”

The co-op is being curated by guest “authors,” as Norris calls them. Once every quarter, a new author will populate the space with products based on their seven word theme and inject their point of view into the assortment. “People are going out of business in retail,” Norris said. “Let’s collaborate with designers as consultants and provide a platform to curate and a store to create. Of course they  can sell some of their elevated goods as well.”

Guesst cofounder Michele Varian, a jewelry, home furnishings and lighting designer with a store in Manhattan’s SoHo, is the inaugural author. She merchandised the store based on the seven words “Bringing Compelling Stories from SoHo to D.C.”

Varian will feature her own products along with jewelry from a dozen different designers, including two collections from long-time employees: Hayley K.S., Hayley Schlesinger’s understated and elegant line, and Labulgara, an edgy collection by Nadia Todorova. Southwest art specialist Viavi Gallery, Numbskullduggery ceramics by Polly Yates, Museum Mile Art Ceramics, Johanna Howard Home and Welden handbags will be featured, among others.

The store will make use of Guesst’s platform, which facilitates sales transactions, payments, inventory tracking, data reporting and automating the operation for Edens and the brands it partners with. “Using the Guesst model spreads out the risk,” Varian said. “With Guesst, brands retain ownership of their products, so they’re invested in promoting the retail location. Retail rents have become so stratospheric. This really evens the playing field and creates a three-way partnership between Guesst, Edens and a brand.”

“I look at brands as a story,” Norris said. “It’s all about the narrative. People will buy things that have powerful and compelling stories. We want the right consumers to say, ‘Wow, this is interesting, this is for me.'”

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