As expected there’s a long line outside Olive Ateliers in Los Angeles. The devotees are eagerly anticipating its newest drop.
No, it’s not a streetwear label, as one might expect. The founders, though, did take inspiration from “the Supremes of the world,” says Kendall Knox of its sales model. She launched the company in June 2021 with husband Ben Knox and friend Laura Sotelo.
Instead, Olive Ateliers is a home decor importer that unveils collections every two weeks. They offer a distinct esthetic — rustic Mediterranean-style objects sourced from the likes of Turkey, India and Morocco. Their warehouse is filled with pots, stools, bowls and marble sinks.
The endeavor was started on Instagram with just 20 pieces, gaining buzz last fall after opening a physical location in early 2022 in Culver City. Now relocated to Downtown L.A., Olive Ateliers has expanded into a 23,000-square-foot space with thousands of goods and about 400 visitors each time. Fans include the Kardashian-Jenners, Kristen Bell and Melissa McCarthy.
“It really was born just from a genuine adoration of old and special one-of-a-kind home decor and furniture,” continues Knox. “We have 11,000 square feet of the atelier, which is the showroom, and then we have 11,000 square feet of warehouse space, which is where we receive inventory, process inventory and get ready for the drops.”
They’re filling a void, she explains: “With a similar look and feel, it’s either 1stDibs, which is beautiful, highly curated, but, you know, incredibly expensive for the average consumer. Or it’s smaller retailers that maybe have a similar assortment but it’s not as vast and also a pretty steep price point. Or it’s HomeGoods and Pottery Barn, which are great resources, so cool for certain folks but often come with a recreation or lack that actual vintage or antique piece.”
Olive Ateliers offers a mix of antiques and reproductions, with many made of wood. Their oldest pieces are marble sinks dating back to the 1800s, salvaged from Turkish bath houses. Popular items include vintage jars, bread boards and skinny elmwood benches — priced at $175.
“They’re often sold for about $1,000,” says Knox. “We’re just really trying to avoid that kind of inflated markup and make these beautiful pieces really accessible for people.”
Born during COVID-19 — and the supply chain issue that came with the pandemic — they adapted their prices to the market, though. At one point, shipping containers that previously cost $5,000 apiece to travel to L.A., for example, were increased to $18,000, explains Knox.
“We were able to kind of wrap our heads around long timelines and having to bake in inflated shipping prices into our pricing models…Now that things are kind of stabilizing a little bit — with the supply chain sort of becoming a little bit smoother and shipping decreased in time in cost — it’s benefiting us.”
Would they ever offer the goods nationwide online? They’ve entertained the idea, partnering with Lulu & Georgia this month on a home collection sold on its site (between $44 and $424). But for now, Knox says, plans are to expand physical retail.
“We’re just at the moment hyper-focused on enhancing and bettering the in-person experience, and, you know, also figuring out how we can duplicate that in other markets, too,” she adds. “If and when we do launch that online experience, I think it’ll be very important that the in-person experience is always the hero. Because what we do is celebrate objects with old souls — as we like to say.”
Located at 1210 Mateo Street, the next Olive Ateliers drop is Saturday.