After almost two decades, Sasha Marie Goldstein is an expert on interior procurement. What exactly does that mean? That’s one of the questions I had for the Portland-based designer, rug expert, and showroom owner when we spoke on the phone a couple weeks ago about her newly-expanded shop, SMG Collective. “Procurement is basically selection,” Goldstein explained. “Even when I work with bigger brands, I’m curating what I buy from them; it’s an intentional curation of what I show in the showroom, and how I display the items in the space.”
In an era of Instagram culture, where design and aesthetic are more prominent than ever, and during a time when emphasis on fair trade, sustainability, ethical practices and local shopping have become important consumer values, SMG Collective operates at a crucial intersection of those two priorities. Not only that, but Goldstein believes the impact of a space’s design elements aren’t just an added bonus, but an important and even essential factor in emotional and mental health. “I think interior design has a huge effect on people emotionally and mentally,” she said. “Like if you’re living in a space that doesn’t have a nice balance and flow, then that’s just going to create tension and chaos in your own psyche. I go into a room and I immediately want to move things around if it doesn’t feel right to me. It’s just how my brain was wired.”
After working in the design industry for almost two decades, and with a specialization in rugs and textiles that began in her first job out of college, Goldstein opened her Portland showroom in May of 2018 in a shared space with another business, Sitte Modern. But when that store’s owner, Allison Kramer, decided to close down her store and pursue other things, Goldstein jumped at the chance to make the space her own. Located in the historic Pearl district, a block from Powell’s Books and around the corner from Pearl Bakery, SMG Collective is nestled in the heart of one of the city’s best neighborhoods.
Focused on sourcing local and independent designers who prioritize ethical practices, Goldstein stocks her store with items of all price points, avoiding the prohibitively expensive pigeonholing that plenty of young people associate with decorating their home. “When it comes to the showroom and products that I have, they’re all an expression of things that I love,” she explained. “I would live with every item in my store. I’m in my thirties, and I can’t afford a $10,000 rug even at this point in my life. I want to cater to my peers. I believe in quality, period. I’m not going to sell something that you can’t care for you, you can’t maintain, that can’t be cleaned. I’m very particular about what I bring in, and make sure that I can stand behind everything I sell.”
Since the expansion last month, SMG Collective now stocks not just rugs and small housewares, but also furniture and lighting, with everything intentionally sourced and selected by Sasha. She lays out the store with the same care she would use on any design project, illustrating how disparate items can function together to bring a room to life. “A balance and flow, and a nice curation of things in the room is important,” she said. “Every little detail from the lighting to the floor color, and finding a harmony between every single element. That doesn’t mean things need to look alike, but they should speak together in a way, and work together.”
Currently, Goldstein is also working on offering her own in-house rug line by connecting directly with factories in places like Nepal and Hong Kong. She has three designs already with six more in the works, and is proud to work directly with factories to further reduce cost for rugs of this caliber and with this kind of ethical sourcing.
“With rugs, specifically, it gets down into things like ethically shearing the sheep,” she said. “There’s so many levels that consumers don’t necessarily think about. So just being conscious of all that and trying to find price points for everybody, it’s definitely a challenge. With a rug, you have to be an educated buyer to understand why a quality rug costs so much. Custom area rugs and textiles have kind of become my creative expression, rather than painting or drawing, and I feel very fortunate to do something creative that I love and also translates it into work.”
As the store continues to grow, Goldstein hopes that her local showroom will help people understand that buying furniture and decor from massive retailers isn’t the only option, and a return to buying furniture and housewares from local artisans is a crucial investment back into the local artistic community. “My hopes and dreams are for people to be more conscious in the way they shop, try to go local,” she said. “It’s not a genuine, conscious purchase if you’re going on Wayfair and Amazon. Seeking out things in the town or city where you live and trying to go local and small is hugely supportive of the community.”
Check out SMG Collective on your way to Powell’s, or, the next time you need to procure something for your home, consider going local.