The distinguished proprietor.
Back in 1999 one handsome, stylish LB, Lloyd Boston, hipped me to another, Ludlow Beckett. Ludlow had just opened his Fort Greene shop, Yú Interiors and Lloyd was spreading the word about his friend’s new venture. Given Lloyd’s clean, modern tastes I knew it would be good. Since then the emporium of “home accessories for modern living” has become my go-to spot for everything from scented candles to vases, lamps, art books and my mid-century glass-topped Danish coffee table. It’s always a pleasure to browse the inventory for something new and chat with the mellow-voiced Ludlow. We spoke recently of the challenges and rewards of caregiving, how he’s survived in a faltering economy and as the somber anniversary looms, reminisced about the island lift we got when just weeks after the horrors of September 11, 2001 we were both in Kingston, Jamaica for the inaugural Caribbean Fashion Week.
Kingston born and raised, Ludlow “grew up with parents that were very conscious of style,” he says. “My mom started coming to the states in the sixties and would bring back American stuff. When I look back at the furniture, I think Wow, that was pretty cool!” Though the seed was planted then, it would germinate for quite a while.
“I never thought of it as a career. I came to the US at twenty and went to college, two years at City College for accounting then Pace University for finance,” he says. He spent 27 years on Wall Street but ultimately left banking when his mother became ill. “I didn’t want to travel as much, so I took time off.” While caregiving, he pondered what business he could open in Brooklyn. Given the onslaught of gentrification in Fort Greene, he thought home goods would be a viable local option to big box stores. In keeping with his modernist aesthetic, “It was about providing the things I would like in my own home. I operated under the premise that if I liked it, someone else would like it too whether it’s a Votivo candle or a vintage serving tray.”
About the store name he says “It’s everything YOU need,” and with a considerable Asian influence on much of the merchandise, he spelled it Yú. He incorporates new with vintage pieces, mostly mid-century modern. He loves that era for its “gorgeous woods” like walnut and rosewood; simplicity,”great design without being ornate” and functionality “mass produced for modern living, but still beautiful.”
He’s kept his doors open through the economic downturn armored by his banking experience. “Having managed people (a group of eighty) having run a call center for Chase where you understand customer service, how to recruit, how to train, how to run reports to check progress…all the pieces that come together to run a business. I learned that if you can’t increase your revenue you can still be profitable if you keep your expenses down.”
And most importantly he acknowledges his life partner of 24 years, tax accountant, Allen Harvey, “I couldn’t have done it without him.”
George Mulhauser for Plycraft chair; gold leafed Sea Urchin bowl; spider clock; Quistgaard ice buckets; Tozal ceramic boxes and trays; Zwelethu Mthethwa book; Ridley’s classic games and mid-century Danish teak mirror.
Lean or flush he absolutely enjoys his entrepreneurial endeavor. “When you do something you love, the rewards can come in ways that are unexpected,” he says. An elderly Latina woman, a resident of the local senior center has supported him from the beginning. Though his modern sensibility differed from hers, she wanted to patronize his business and made a concerted effort to seek out items she related to like scented candles. They have become friends. Another customer “came to check on me during the blackout with a flashlight and a beer. So it’s not just about making a dollar, its about making relationships far beyond a transaction.”
Similarly, a look at his Trove reveals a quest for the simple pleasures; his favorites experiential, the stuff that creates quality of life.
1. Entertaining. “I love cooking and love being with my friends over a home-cooked meal.”
2. Great Espresso. “Made in the morning, with my own espresso beans.”
Bialetti stove top espresso maker.
3. Negroni. “I love cocktails but a good Negroni is the best!”
4. A Bath. He enjoys a good ole tub soak with aromatic botanicals like eucalyptus, lavender and sage. “I’m a product person when it comes to baths.
A Yuma bathtub from BluBleu.
5. Farmer’s Markets. “Brooklyn’s are great, but the one at Union Square can’t be beat, especially in the Springtime.”
Photo via: The Untrepreneur
6. Sag Harbor. The Hamptons village is home to several historically black enclaves including Chatfield Hills, where Ludlow and Allen purchased a home in 1998.
The pool at their home.
7. Kobo Candles. Clean burning soy wax and unusual fragrance combinations make the scented candles a fave in the shop and his home.
In-store, he carries a full complement of fragrances, but at home he burns the green yet spicy Jalapeño.
8. My Shop. “Gives me the opportunity to meet some great, really interesting people.
Keeping shop: Ludlow and his wares.
9. Vintage Wittnauer Watch. He loves the 1940’s timepiece inherited from his father.
Launched in 1872, The Wittnauer brand graced fine Swiss watches until it was bought by the Bulova company in 2001.
10. Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Ludlow truly enjoys the performances of Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson’s dance company.
Complexions Co-Founder Desmond Richardson.