PBP Picks

Shop Talk

Real estate (and retail) maven Jenna Cooper doesn’t do cookie cutter

Walk in to Jenna Cooper’s Los Angeles homewares store, +COOP, and you kind of want to buy everything. And then you wish you had the perfect house to put it all in. Turns out Cooper can help you with that. Besides curating a world of handmade goods, books, plants, kitchenwares and really great smelling candles and incense, Cooper is also a real-estate agent with a very particular point of view. Her two businesses enjoy a symbiotic relationship—clients who buy houses end up shopping at +COOP, and those who shop at +COOP might end up buying a house. It’s almost like she thought it out.

You’re a real estate agent, but you also own a homewares shop. Please explain.

My husband and I used to flip houses together. He was the designer and the builder. We would always stage the properties with our things. And I was always a huge shopper and it got to a point where I was running out of room. So, I thought, if I could open a little shop, I could take the things from the shop and put them in the houses. Plus, the shop would be my cover for my shopping habit.

How do you stage a house?

A great house is layered with things that are new—which could be from our store—and things that are old, which could be the seller’s. Things that give the house its personality. It’s our job to make sense of what’s ours and what’s theirs and to synthesize the whole thing so the house tells a story that makes sense to a buyer.

What makes you good at your job?

I’m a straight shooter. If it doesn’t feel like a fit with a client, and if I don’t love a house—if I can’t see a way to make a house lovable—the conversation doesn’t really go beyond there. To sell something, I have to authentically love and believe in it.

Homes can be so personal, is it your job…

It’s my job to make it feel commercial, if you want to use that word. I used to work in independent film, and that experience really informed my approach. When making a movie, even before you start, you have to know how you’re going to sell it, who’s going to be the audience. You make sure to hit the right notes along the way, and I approach selling a house the same way.

What’s one rule you have for someone trying to sell a house?

Take one third of the things you own and put them in storage. It’s difficult for a buyer to project their own belongings on a space that’s crammed.

How would you describe your style?

Hmm. I can tell you what we’re not. We’re not traditional, we’re not really modern. When it comes to a house, we try to keep the soul that’s there. We’re problem solvers, is what we are.

What’s the first question you ask someone who’s looking for a house?

Where are you going to sit? Literally. I force people to sit down, and think about what their sightlines are, to think about the holistic experience of how they live. How they’re going to use every room.

Where have you traveled to recently where you’ve found inspiration?

Fez, in Morocco—you feel like you’ve seen the entire world on the internet, but you see stuff there you’ve never seen, ever. Kyoto—just incredibly soulful, intentional and beautiful. Mexico City—I went three times in four months. The level of detail, the care, the craftsmanship.

What do you look for when sourcing maker-made products?

If I want to look at it every day. If I want to smell it and touch it. Have I seen it before? Is it easy to get? And, most importantly, What does it make me feel?

Jenna's Picks

Sourcing her favorite products from PBP

“I love how delicate these tumblers look. They balance function and form beautifully.”

"Here’s my perfect recipe for adding a hint of whimsy in your home: a light pop of color, eye-catching shape and functional use."
"I’m obsessed with snakes, so this rug is a must for me "
"I have a serious basket problem. Luckily these Iringa baskets are versatile enough for all my needs. I use them as planters, waste bins and general storage. You can find one in every corner of my house."

If I weren’t a designer, I’d be…

A writer.
Or a painter.
Or a photographer.