BY SHALEEN DESTEFANO
Becky Miller is the visionary and owner of Modern Nomad, a “three-dimensional living magazine with retailers displaying their product cohesively in an open-air market.” It’s exactly what you didn’t know you were craving until you walk through the door. From sustainable-living home goods, to locally made jewelry and high-end interior design accessories, we are here for Modern Nomad and it is without a doubt your new favorite place to shop, and really, just be. We sat down with Becky to learn more about her oasis in RiNo.
Do what FEEDS YOUR SOUL. Those last 3 words have propelled me to where I am today. In my formative years, I never thought I would be an entrepreneur, but I have been able to manifest my wildest dreams into reality as I know it. This vision is a lifelong journey and adventure with its share of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I also believe in the potential of Denver, and grateful that I get to live here during this tremendous period of discovery and growth. I think back to the time I lived in NYC circa 1995, and realized that I could leave Colorado for a more exciting reality, or I could try to create that here for myself in Denver.
You’ve gifted us with one of the most uniquely curated collections in town. Tell us how Modern Nomad came to fruition.
This again goes back to living in NYC. I discovered ABC Carpet and Home and could not get that space out of my head. Everything about it was a journey and I felt like Alice in Wonderland. I didn’t actually think for a second that I would have a retail store one day, but it was always in the back of my mind. Retail can be a tough career choice, but the freedom and creativity is everything. I also lived in Copenhagen for a my junior year of high school, and it exposed me to the world of design. I saw that beauty is more often the case of less is more, and that I have a passion for travel and acquiring interesting objects from around the world. Design is my passion – hands down. I wasn’t raised to consider design as a viable career, but things have a way of catching up with you and/or smacking you in the face. Being in a space – how it makes you feel – is really so relevant, not to mention important to our growth, creativity, and well-being.
We love the diversity represented at Modern Nomad. There truly is something for everyone in this approachable space. It’s clear you’ve been thoughtful in making goods accessible across all budgets. Tell us a bit more about your vendors and what newcomers can expect.
I had literally zero retail and buying background prior to Modern Nomad, but I always had a huge interest in fashion. To be honest, it came organically and through sheer perseverance. I thought finding lines and vendors would be so intimidating, but it’s very intuitive and at the end of the day, it has to be authentic. Lines that don’t come to fruition probably weren’t meant to be, and there have been several lines and people that have found me. I respect the bravery and rawness of it all – we’ve all been there. Also realizing that you can’t do it all…you have to find what’s right for you and your demographic at the moment. In terms of demographic, it’s really all over the board. Lots of Millennials in RiNo (and Denver in general), but you can’t please everyone. Nor should you. This is a tricky balance, but at the end of the day, I buy what I love, and try to offer a range of things that are accessible, while getting my design aesthetic across. Lines change all the time, but I love when I connect with small business owners on a personal and professional level. Relationships are everything, right? Sustainability has really been on my mind of late. That will determine future buying decisions. It’s also important to be NICE and approachable. It blows my mind that this is so difficult in retail. Your retail experience is very relevant, and it’s no wonder why people prefer buying things on-line. It’s like texting – takes away the human experience. We need this interaction back to survive.
Walking into Modern Nomad is like stumbling upon a flea market tucked away on a side street in New York, overflowing with rare finds. What is your process for curating your personal interior design shop?
Anyone who has seen my last 4 homes knows that I am very eclectic, and I just buy what I love. Things just speak to me and I know if I have to have it. It may not work in my current design scheme or mood, but I have come to trust my gut and know that it will surface at the right time. I vacillate between having an expertly curated space and IG, however that’s not who I am nor realistic for me. I love a good flea market and the hunt, but also realize that a lot of people need to see it in plain daylight. Modern Nomad Home is somewhere in between!
Most people don’t have the eye to take a 5500 square foot ex auto body shop, and convert it into an unassuming collective. But you did. And honestly, your space feels like so much more than just a place to shop. It is a mood. Tell us about your vision for hosting events in this space and what we can look forward to this year.
I am lucky to have had this space as a potential option for my pipe dream, but it evolved organically in terms of the 9 other tenants that inhabit the space with me. I always knew it was a special space – God knows I’ve wanted to make it my house since it was purchased. Maybe one day. As a barrel-top warehouse in what is now known as RiNo, it was always an impressive structure and location with huge potential, but as they say, timing is everything. I knew if I didn’t pull the trigger (now 2 years ago), I would never be able to realize this vision. I am so incredibly grateful for tenants like HomeFill who found me and had the determination and drive to move forward. We are comprised of 10 small businesses – all locally owned, first time entrepreneurs and self-funded. I had the vision in my head it would be this way, but did not want to limit myself in terms of options. Everyone at Modern Nomad – in their entirety – makes it the Modern Nomad it is today. It takes a village. I never wanted to do this alone. A collective is more than a group of retail businesses, it is a collective of individuals, their dreams, energy, visions….and everyone in that space that works there on a daily basis. I am so incredibly proud and humbled by the people who support me, show up physically, emotionally, and mentally every day. It really feels like a family, and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t feel grateful for being there. The aspect of community is a huge part of this space, and hosting weekly pop-ups, workshop and events has always been important to our diversity, growth and mission. This is truly an immersive business, keeping it fresh, authentic, inspirational and educational is vital. The gratitude goes to those that are willing to share their mission & message with us.
As Denver natives, we’ve seen so much growth in our city over the last decade, with womxn leading the force. This has made space for a community of people who support one another, as opposed to competing with each other. Have you noticed a shift in the narrative?
100%. It’s taken WAY TOO LONG for women to realize that they should support other women, but this is innate for me. If I could look back at all the tough times, failures and lessons, I can say that my female friendships in business and my personal life mean everything to me. At one point in time, I honestly didn’t think it was possible to have a successful collective of women where we could all thrive, but I am happy to say I was wrong. Balance, mutual respect and vision make it so.
How do you see Modern Nomad evolving in this decade?
RiNo is SO exciting right now. It feels like the pulse of the city while remaining edgy at the same time. I love the inspiration and camaraderie that I share with local business owners. We are all growing together. I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that we will keep doing what we do best, which is being authentic.
Many of us ache to lead a nomadic existence, but are trapped by the day-to-day of life and responsibility, so with gratitude, we turn to you and this beautiful space to feed our need.