When the soon-to-be shuttered Eatonville reopens as Mulebone in mid-February, visitors can look forward to an experience that breaks the monotony of the 14th Street corridor in Northwest, courtesy of locally renowned vintage boutique Nomad Yard Collectiv.
Under a deal between Andy Shallal, restaurateur and owner of Mulebone and Desiree Venn Frederic, Nomad Yard’s founder and curator, eight vendors of vintage goods will set up shop in the newly renovated restaurant. There, a bevy of customers, many of whom represent D.C.’s professional class, will be able to purchase custom-made clothes and jewelry while connecting with members of D.C.’s burgeoning creative community.
“This is a new experience for us because it allows us to have a presence on the 14th Street corridor so there’s more of an accessibility of vintage goods. We want people to see that Nomad Yard represents the best of D.C.,” Venn Frederic, 25, told AllEyesOnDC.
“We have women and people of color who have a hard time entering the marketplace with their brands because they’re limited to e-commerce. With this collaboration, Mulebone won’t be one of those homogenous spaces. It will accelerate the effect of what Andy Shallal built and make people feel welcome to engage in dialogue and collaborate more often,” she added.
On Halloween of 2014, Venn Frederic, a native Sierra Leonean inspired by a seven-year fight for proper immigration status and a six-month stint in a detention center, opened Nomad Yard in a warehouse on New York Avenue in Northeast. Since its launch, offerings have grown to include the vintage material of more than 30 vendors, a couple of whom went on to open their own brick-and-mortar shops.
Nomad Yard also serves as a space for meetings and special events, even attracting the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center which visited during a citywide tour of cultural centers. Multinational retailer Urban Outfitters also took notice, letting Nomad Yard host a pop-up shop at its Georgetown location as part of the #urbannomaddc movement.
Shallal, who met Venn Frederic through a mutual friend, said he became enamored with the aesthetics of the Nomad Yard immediately upon his visit in early 2015.
“The crossover appeal interested me. Nomad Yard is unique in that it transcends ethnicity and race to represent the world,” Shallal said, telling AllEyesOnDC that the duo had been in talks shortly after he met Venn Frederic.
“I think we’ll feed off of each other’s aesthetic and customer base, introducing people on both sides to concepts. Those who will come to Nomad Yard at Mulebone will see that 14th Street isn’t a cultural wasteland. Those who go to Mulebone will see that Nomad Yard is part of their culture as well,” he added.
Applications for vendors recently opened, attracting a slew of entrepreneurs and collectors of vintage material from across the D.C. metropolitan area, including those who have worked with Nomad Yard since its inception.
For Uesa Robinson, Nomad Yard’s expansion to Mulebone represents an opportunity to meet new clientele and increase her presence locally. Under her UesaGoods Vintage brand, she has collected and sold vintage clothing throughout the D.C. metropolitan area for more than decade, including in Eastern Market, pop-up shops, private shopping parties, and a stint at Nomad Yard.
Robinson, whose work has been featured in The Downtowner, The Georgetowner, and Washington Life Magazine, told AllEyesOnDC that she hopes to count among the vendors on site when Mulebone opens next month.
“What Desiree does will fit perfectly with Mulebone. She turned her vision to reality because of the variety of the material she brought to Nomad Yard and the pop up shops at Urban Outfitters,” Robinson, a Southeast resident, said. “We’re kindred spirits in the sense that we focus more on color and texture than the era of clothing. Desiree loves my pieces and ‘shop[s] at UesaGoods religiously.’ She appreciates my collection and what I bring to the table. This collaboration will help all of our brands.”
The stakes are a bit higher for younger Nomad Yard vendors, some of whom have invested much of their time and capital to make their endeavor a reality. Thus was the case for Darius Stanton and Salasie Kallon, founders of The Rough, a men’s clothing line that speaks to one’s individuality “with a twist.”
Shortly after launching The Rough at the Broccoli City Festival in April, Stanton and Kallon set up shop at the Nomad Yard, exposing audiences to clothing they say people wouldn’t usually give attention otherwise. While it has yet to be determined if the duo will have a space in Mulebone next month, Stanton says their story aligns with that of the restaurant, making it more of a perfect fit.
“I like the 1940s theme of Mulebone that centers on just making it on your own. As two young black male college students jumping into a risky venture, it works perfectly for us,” Stanton, a 23-year-old graduate student at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University in Durham, N.C., told AllEyesOnDC.
“With so much traffic around the New York Avenue location, people just don’t walk by as much as we would have hoped. Having the store on 14th Street opens us up to a new market. It ultimately helps the brand. Through our work, we can show people the resilience of the today’s youth,” he added.