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The Grey Pearl; an Interview with Owner and Founder Nicole Ehrbar

The Grey Pearl; an Interview with Owner and Founder Nicole Ehrbar

Now open at 51 University Place in the heart of Greenwich Village, only a short drive away from The Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, The Grey Pearl shop offers an eclectic selection of entertaining essentials, homeware and gifts for any occasion.

Featuring an artful yet utilitarian assortment of design-driven home objects, shoppers can browse goods that are sure to elevate their space, like table linens, glassware, serving ware and pantry items. For those lucky enough to be located close by, the rotating collection of unique gifts, exclusive items and statement decor will quickly make The Grey Pearl a first-stop when holiday shopping.

To learn more about this charming new store, we spoke with owner and founder Nicole Ehrbar on how The Grey Pearl was created and how she keeps such a carefully curated collection of pieces.  

How did you first discover your passion for interior design and homeware? 

Since the introduction of the Barbie Dream House…in all seriousness, as far back as I can remember I was interested in home & design but hadn’t thought about it as a career direction until recently. I had been working in PR for the past 20+ years and had incredible experiences working with two global retailers, Cartier and Tiffany & Co. Most recently at Tiffany where I was working under Reed Krakoff and involved in the launch of the Everyday Object Home & Accessories Collection which further fueled my existing interest in the home category and motivated me to transition into home & design.

When did you know it was the right time to open a store of your own? 

I was ready to make a career transition and wanted to go in a direction that aligned with my personal interests which included home & design and entertaining.  We were coming out of the pandemic, people were yearning to once again connect in person and at the same time, there were so many empty storefronts in downtown Manhattan. I wanted to help play a part in bringing some of the magic back to NYC with a small business.

Why did you choose the name The Grey Pearl? 

I was inspired by a book about the history of champagne that referred to a term “gris de perle” or pearl gray that was used in the 18th century to describe the color of champagne. I loved the celebratory reference and pearls are also associated with a sense of discovery; my goal is to create a space to discover new things.

How would you describe your design style? 

Eclectic, fairly zen with pops of whimsy.  I love to accessorize my space with collected objects that tell a story or remind me of an occasion or location paired with vintage items I’ve hunted and gathered on auction sites and flea markets. 

What advice do you have for people trying to find their own unique style and selecting the right pieces? 

Go with what speaks to you. Ultimately you want to buy something with lasting value and something you’ll want to live with whether it’s purely decorative or functional. I always ask myself if this piece is going to add value and delight to my life and my environment.  

You have such a beautiful selection of pieces available, how do you choose where to source pieces? 

I select the pieces from various sources – travels, trade shows, introductions through friends, searching online and of course on Instagram. Some artisans have stopped in to introduce themselves and share their work which has been amazing. I wanted to make it a priority to connect with the local community and it gives me great pleasure to carry work by artisans who live in the neighborhood. 

What is the importance of choosing unique, hand made things for your home? 

There is a place and need for pieces made from all types of processes but the handmade pieces have a different energy and are functional works of art. They add personality and style to your home and serve as modern heirlooms. 

What is your favorite part about the experience of shopping at The Grey Pearl? 

The reaction from people shopping at The Grey Pearl has exceeded all of my expectations which has been incredibly rewarding and my favorite part of my experience as a shopkeeper is when a client stops in to let me know how much the recipient loved the gift they purchased at The Grey Pearl. 

Open since March 2022, stop by The Grey Pearl to discover perfect hostess gifts, or pick up something special for your own home. Whatever brings you in, you’re sure to find more than a few things that leave you feeling inspired.

Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown Guests looking for personal shopping appointments please call (646) 880-1999.

The Grey Pearl is located at 51 University Place, New York, NY 10003

Photos courtesy of Nicole Ehrbar

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