Every other Saturday, outside of a warehouse in Culver City, over 400 people line up to enter Olive Ateliers. The line starts forming around 7:30 am, and when the doors open at 9:30 am, it’s only a matter of time until the 5,000 square foot space is wiped clean. The room is filled with “objects with old souls” – Turkish pots, rustic mini stools, bowls, marble sinks, terracotta planters, and more – sourced from around the world. Customers enter the room, grab tape and sharpies to mark their finds, and are off to the races. It’s first come, first serve for one of the most coveted drops on Instagram.
Olive Ateliers has quickly become one of the most recognizable lifestyle brands on social media today. Founded by Kendall, Ben Knox, and Laura Matthews, the trio imports objects from Turkey, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Greece, France, and more and releases them in bi-monthly drops every other Saturday at their Los Angeles Ateliers. Each week, the team teases its upcoming inventory to its dedicated community of over 60,000 Instagram followers to build anticipation. No two drops are the same. There’s no e-commerce site and no shipping. It’s all in person and always sells out. In Kendall Knox’s words, it’s a Supreme-meets-FirstDibs-meets-Restoration Hardware of sorts – an elevated experience with high-quality products that if you blink, you’ll miss it. “The problem we came up against while trying to furnish our homes was that the style that we loved was hard to find all in one place,” said Knox. “You really had to bounce around. And then when you did find these pieces, there were incredibly expensive, or you’d be shipping them internationally and had to find a way to get them to your home. We set out to fill that gap. Our tagline is celebrating objects with old souls. That’s the core of the business.”
The Knoxs and Matthews started curating drops in 2021 via Instagram as a passion project, but they experienced immediate success, to their surprise. They’d curate a few of their favorite reclaimed items from their travels, post them on the @OliveAteliers account, and the drops would sell out instantly. That holiday season, they tested out a holiday pop-up concept in Venice and arrived to a line wrapped around the corner on the first day. It was then that they knew their idea had legs, and six months later, they signed a lease on their first space. Today it’s the Olive Ateliers flagship in Culver City, a white and airy space with a large olive tree that greets you as you enter. The trio – Ben, an entrepreneur who founded and sold CPG company Keto Farms, Laura, an interior designer and estate manager, and Kendall, a fashion publicist – had no experience in antiques and vintage, but each brought a unique skill set to the table to bring Olive Ateliers to life.
“Olive trees signify abundance,” said Knox. “They’re from the old world regions of Europe, where we source a lot of our goods. We also wanted to approach the retail experience as a scrappy workshop environment. Walking into a showroom or a design space can be overwhelming because it’s so perfect. We wanted to remove that stigma and let things be a little bit more down and dirty. The word atelier, which means work workshop in French, felt perfect.”
The drop system, according to Knox, has been the secret to their success. At their core, the drops create excitement. As they started selling out in minutes, the Olive Ateliers customer became more loyal and invested in their growing inventory, “You walk into this space, see something, want it for your home, and can take it with you. And if you don’t, it will not be there when you return. We understand that not everyone wants to have to make a decision swiftly, but when you’ve built a trustworthy lifestyle brand and shown people how to use the product, you take the guesswork out of buying that item. You then build more trust with the consumer because they’ve now got this beautiful assortment of things at a good price, they can see how to put it together, and let it live in their own home.” said Knox. However, the number one question they get asked, she says, is, “Can you build an online experience?” Although Knox thinks it could be part of future plans, their team is hyper-focused on the in-person experience and ensuring it’s the best it can be for their consumers. According to a study Knox performed via the @OliveAteliers Instagram account, 25% of their customers are return customers for weekend drops, “We’ve been diligent about building a text and email list to ensure that all communications were happening on our Instagram account. That’s been the key to building an incredibly loyal community.”
Knox is no stranger to impeccable customer service. As the former Head of Public Relations for REVOLVE, she’s built a Rolodex of notable names and relationships to launch an Insta-worthy brand. In just under a year, Olive Ateliers has entered the homes of some of the most sought-after influencers and celebrities from Elsa Hosk to Kendall Jenner, Kristen Bell, Jenni Kayne, and more, “Today, everyone feels that they need to work with influencers. But my best advice would be to ensure that it’s coming from an organic place. You can’t force that partnership upon someone. They need organic gravitation to you as a brand and a business,” said Knox. Hosk was one of their first clients that happened to be looking for items for her new California home. The Olive Ateliers team sourced a Spanish marble stool that was shared across social media, propelling the brand to her 8 million followers.
After just six months in their Culver City space, Olive Ateliers is setting its sights on a major expansion. Later this year, they’ll move into a 22,000-square-foot space to accommodate their 40% monthly growth. The new location will allow for a more frequent, larger-scale shopping experience with the desire for more locations down the line. When asked about her best piece of advice for growth, Knox says, “There’s no point sitting around and waiting to perfect the brand logo and the brand image. You have to start. It all starts with the product. You have to learn who your customer is, build that strong community around it, and the rest will follow.”
Follow @OliveAteliers to catch their next drop.