When Sarah and John Briginshaw opened Sarza, a home furnishings boutique filled with handcrafted linens, tables, masks, vases, ornaments, and more from their native South Africa, they brought something wild and wonderful to Purchase Street.
That was eight years ago, and since then they have attracted a wide client base ready to move past chintz and embrace texture. Their first location proved too small, and when a larger storefront became vacant across the street, at 84 Purchase, they raced over and signed a lease. In a matter of weeks, they transformed the high-ceilinged space and reopened.
One of the things that draws customers back is the stories Sarah tells – about the artisans, the collage artists, the makers of hats and jewelry and cork chandeliers, the weavers.
“Every time I travel to South Africa, I meet new and extraordinary craftswomen and I bring home their goods and share their stories,” she said. “They inspire me to bring their world, their landscape, their artifacts across the world.”
Everything sold in Sarza is high-quality, ethically-made, eco-friendly – and unusual. On one shelf are Namji dolls, which are believed to bring good luck; on another are clay sculptures of people with thoughts on their heads. The napkins that need no explanation or ironing fly off display tables, as do the mohair throws.
Their best sellers are large masks and smallish stools, whose seats can be customized, as can most of the other furniture. “People like our art because it’s good value and out of the ordinary,” said Sarah, “and our nature-filled wallpaper, too.”
Sarza was recently honored to be named one of the “Best Home Stores in America” by House Beautiful. What took them so long?
In a few weeks, animals will start arriving two by two – in the form of beaded Christmas ornaments. The magic of every season is cause for celebration at Sarza, but none more so than right before the holidays.