The Genteel
April 17, 2021

Best Kept Secrets

Dublin’s new boutique-café Tamp & Stitch is located on a quiet street at the edge of the Temple Bar neighbourhood. "Photograph by Briana Palma."

Many locals in Dublin recognise the Temple Bar neighbourhood as a bit of a tourist trap; it's a place that panders to stereotypes of Ireland found in the minds of many foreign visitors, with folk music, Guinness and plenty of leprechauns all around.

But away from the neighbourhood's pub-and-hostel-filled core, its western edge has a quieter, more authentic air. Here, you can find locally-owned bookshops, craft stores, restaurants and cafés, all showcasing Dublin's creative side. Amongst these businesses sits Tamp & Stitch; a new space that - as its name suggests - is bringing together coffee and fashion.

In September, Tamp & Stitch began displaying art
as part of the First Thursdays cultural initiative.
Photograph by Briana Palma. 

The small but innovative boutique-café is the brainchild of friends Veronica Trevisani, Neil Barry and Paul Taylor. With a background in the restaurant industry, Barry and Taylor manage the coffee while Trevisani takes the reins with clothing and accessories. All three work to combine the two main elements of the business into one unique experience for customers.

Inside the café, a three-sided bar protrudes from the wall into the middle of the boutique, with an espresso machine perched on one corner. This bar, however, is more than just a place to sit and sip a cup of coffee; it doubles up as a jewellery display case, showing off brass rings, bracelets and necklaces by Mafia that rest on spoons and in cups.

"We didn't want to create two separate spaces," Trevisani explains. "At the beginning there were loads of thoughts about how the coffee side could go with the jewellery. It's all about imagination."

And imagination is certainly not lacking at Tamp & Stitch. The owners emphasise quality and uniqueness, which they believe are essential ingredients for success, especially given their location. Not only is the boutique in a pedestrian area with light foot traffic, but it's also away from the newly dubbed "Creative Quarter," an area where locals flock thanks to its many quirky businesses, ranging from hipster burger joint Jo Burger and café-bike shop Rothar to Project 51, the Irish Design Collective.

Nonetheless, Trevisani, Barry and Taylor appreciate the challenges presented by their address. "What we knew coming down here is that we had to be a destination place; we had to be a reason for people to come down here," Barry says. "When you're in an area like this, you've got to work that little bit harder and you realise what the core part of your business is."

I would bring home something and then people would stop me and say, 'Where did you get it?' and I would tell them all the story. That is, I think, really the concept of the shop.

"You're literally crawling to start with and then you're kind of learning how to walk and then running, as opposed to up there [in the Creative Quarter], you're just totally running." 

Since opening on May 21 this year, Tamp & Stitch has progressed steadily, bringing in new fashion lines and adding elements to the business, including participating in First Thursdays. This Temple Bar Cultural Trust initiative is modelled on similar programmes around the world in which cultural spaces open their doors to the public one day a month, often with free admission and light-night opening hours.

As part of First Thursdays, the trio have transformed their robin egg blue walls - which deliberately evoke Tiffany & Co - into a gallery space. For November, they hung the graphic, colourful paintings of local artist Rob Crane, while the month of December has brought in the work of contemporary painter Debbie Chapman, a friend of Taylor. 

Another project of Tamp & Stitch is Live from the Cupboard sessions, which sees musicians play at the back of the boutique. The bands set up in front of a black wardrobe, a versatile piece of furniture that Trevisani normally uses as a showcase for the work of Irish and Ireland-based designers. At the moment, the Cupboard is home to clothing and accessories by Amy De Loup as well as the eco-friendly jewellery of La Valse des Matières. 

While Ireland and its creatives are at the forefront of Tamp & Stitch, behind the scenes the owners' international travel experiences are playing a part too. It was on a trip to Buenos Aires about eight years ago that the unconventional use of unoccupied space first captivated Trevisani and Barry. "We started seeing all this useless space, like car parks being used as markets on the weekends," Barry recalls. "Every bar and nightclub was open during the day and they were trading. They would set up little markets or clothes stores, and we just thought this was absolutely amazing." 

Fashion and coffee are seamlessly combined at
Tamp & Stitch. For example, the jewellery 
 display case is built into the coffee bar. 
Photograph by Briana Palma. 

Trevisani adds, "I suppose when you travel you always get inspiration and ideas, and you kind of want to bring a piece of the place back home." So a couple years later the pair delved into the worlds of fashion and markets. They ventured to India and Thailand and met with designers. Then upon their return to Dublin they began selling the goods - primarily jewellery - at markets. That led to other projects like the creation of the weekly Fashion Stage market at local entertainment venue Twisted Pepper - another example of the duo's ability to think outside the box when it comes to the creative use of space.

Then in 2011, Trevisani and Barry decided to set up shop and establish a base for their various activities. At the time, Taylor was considering opening a coffee shop, so the three joined forces and fused their business plans. 

Tamp & Stitch is not only the result of combining two industries, though; it is also a product of the relationships its owners have built up over the years with vendors, designers and others active in creative industries in Dublin and beyond. When you walk into Tamp & Stitch, you find brands by people who Trevisani, Barry and Taylor know personally. "These are people that we go and we meet and we have coffee with," Barry explains. "We never use a middleman. The only thing we do use a middleman for is the coffee and that's because the middleman happens to be the roaster."

Consequentially, a purchase in Tamp & Stitch is more than just a purchase; it's an item with a story, just like the things Trevisani and Barry have picked up on their travels. "I would bring home something and then people would stop me and say, 'Where did you get it?' and I would tell them all the story. That is, I think, really the concept of the shop."

Anything can happen under this roof - you never know.

In addition to the shop's unique stock - Italian children's brand GioKit, for example, is not sold elsewhere in Ireland - the threesome also pride themselves on selecting pieces that are accessible to the general public. "Our price point is like Topshop's, even cheaper," Barry says, explaining that nearly everything falls into the under-€50 category, with the exception of the artwork and the Irish designs housed in the Cupboard.

And beyond the clothes and the coffee, Tamp & Stitch is about ambiance and providing Dublin with a place that is original and dynamic. "For me, what's important is that people really understand about the synergy and the use of the space," Trevisani says. "The art is melting with the jewellery, the jewellery is melting with the coffee and we look like we fit as well," she adds, laughing.

"You can come back here after one month and it is different. If you come tomorrow, or another time, with the new paintings it will look different again. Anything can happen under this roof - you never know."



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