MH Muse - Alison Fandel


Under the dictionary definition of Powerhouse, it should read, “see Alison Fandel.” She’s the fast-talking, sharp-witted woman with the cool vintage Mercedes station wagon and Great Dane Francis, who everyone knows around town. From the beginning of her career, opening and managing one of the first freestanding Anthropolgie stores, she’s always had an eye for what sells. Fast forward to present day, alongside Alyssa Cassatto, Alison is a co-founder of Shoppe Native. Possibly one of the most coveted invitations for cool women on the east side of Atlanta, Shoppe Native is an invite only event where these 2 ladies take turns transforming their (already perfectly appointed) homes into beautifully merchandised boutiques, full of locally made goods for the home and self. Did I mention Alison does all of this whilst managing a full-blown career as a real estate agent and interior designer? And have you seen her plant collection?! Whether she’s selling you a house or a great piece of art, you’re gonna love it (and love her!). For me, Alison is my muse because the picture of someone who is thriving. She’s not only a master of cool, she’s the master of making a great life. 

Our Conversation

MH: I feel like you know so many people in Atlanta, you could
run for mayor! Selling, building, and designing so many people’s homes, has to be a huge part of that, right? 

 Alison: Mayor, funny, I would have to be in WAY too many photos
for that, but I do get told a lot that I know everyone or someone everywhere. But yes, I am definitely a connector. I love when I connect the dots between folks and they form relationships off of what they maybe wouldn't know had I not introduced them to someone new.

 I used to throw myself HUGE birthday parties at my old place, around 100 friends with kids and dogs and games, and I always thought about if there were someone new, who would they enjoy seeing at my house? Because it makes for a fun party when folks feel comfortable. 

 As you and I spoke of while we were shooting, nostalgia will always make us miss "Old Atlanta." I think that goes along with getting older, being in the creative scene and watching things form. BUT, I am also SUPER proud of what is happening here now. Atlanta is coming alive and our east side of the city is exploding. It's so energizing to watch.

 MH: Tell me your favorite things about living in Grant Park. 

 Alison: I am a "Grantparkyin'" for sure, mainly because I live within 7 blocks away from three of my dearest friends. My favorite thing, hands down, is that I live 2 blocks from Oakland Cemetery and 5 blocks from the park, so beautiful walks every day, sometimes twice a day, are a thing. We all know how much I love plants and trees, so getting to visit those spaces is amazing. We even have trees and plants in our yard that my husband Derek and I have watched in Oakland for years and then sourced from Gardenhood. (OH YES, I am a block away from my favorite plant nursery, too). Other favorites are my daily visits to Grant Park Market, a walk to the Sunday Farmer’s Market in Grant Park, Full Commission & DEFINITELY, Brother Moto. (I have met so many folks and clients there) And now, Supremo! Can't forget Ria's, where we have been regulars
since it opened in 2000. Summer walks to Golden Eagle for cocktails with my Great Dane Francis on their huge patio. I could go on forever! Oh, and yoga! I get up and walk to class in the dark at 6:45am at Nirvana, which is a great way to start my day.

 I also love that Freewheel Farm (about a mile from me) now has a farm stand most of the year & you can pop in, see where your food grows and buy it right there on their little urban farm. And meeting people like Mark Leibert, who is an amazing painter (Sandler Hudson Gallery reps him) or his wife, Narin who teaches at GA Tech but owns a local yoga studio, The Little Yoga Co-Op. We get some of the best people here in Grant Park! Of course another favorite spot is Alyssa’s (@connienjack) studio
is a few blocks from my house and I can get all the jewelry I need, at any time. There’s so much to love and so many things I’m sure that I am leaving
out. Besides all of the above, I would have to say the architecture, history
and walkability, these rank the highest in making Grant Park a DREAMY neighborhood.

 MH: Let’s talk about the link between fashion and home! You’ve been plugged into both worlds starting with your first job at Anthropologie leading up to now with your real estate and home design business as well as Shoppe Native. Can you tell us about your path and how it led to where you are now? 

 Alison: I sell real estate and do interiors, mostly renovation
work, but yes, interiors (insert link). Most folks don't correlate that home
and fashion styles are typically mirroring one another. Similar for you, that you forge ahead and get inspiration to set the tone for a year ahead, interiors folks do the same. 15 years ago, I subdivided Derek's property when we first met, then built our first home; that was the springboard into my current work life. I have lived in a white house now for 15 years, so it's more a classic thing for me than anything else; there’s something serene about it. In my weird little head, I wish my entire street had ALL white houses.

 Being the co-founder of Shoppe Native is an honor. Alyssa and I
have been dear friends for 18 years and we were actually roommates prior to both being married. We worked together first, so I feel we collaborate VERY well with each other. She wanted to host a thing with her jewelry collection, have some folks over to her house and I was like, “let's add Charlotte!” (I’m one of Charlotte Smith’s largest collectors of her ceramics and Alyssa has quiet a collection, too.) Then we thought of my dear friend, amazing photographer, Audra Melton. Then, we added The Victorian Atlanta and their beautiful plants  & Shoppe Native grew from there. We approach this differently than most pop-ups. Not only are the events in our homes, they’re merchandised to appeal to folks in such a beautiful way. It's a fun party and they can't help but shop, have a good time and talk ALL about it. It's a coveted event, obviously very successful with now over 300 folks that attend, and the guest list keeps growing. But let's be honest, our homes are not, so we will see how it develops from here. Just like any creative endeavor, it's alive, evolving, constantly growing and changing.