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The World is Your Oyster

We sometimes forget the inner connections that we have with each other and how fate plays a role in bringing us all together. Coming “full circle” and finding the reason for a certain encounter can take years to unfold. And so the story begins…..

Oysters connected Mike and I to Haleh Pedram. We met Haleh at Dutch & Company where she was working when Michelle, Caleb, and Phil first opened up their restaurant in Church Hill. And by happenstance, Dutch & Company was gracious enough to serve our Anderson’s Neck oysters in their restaurant. They took a chance on us by serving our oysters and still do to this day for which we are grateful.

Upon meeting Haleh, we quickly realized that we both loved oysters. It was an instant match made in heaven. Fast forward a couple years and we ran into Haleh standing in line waiting for “back door dogs” (what would later be known as Stroops) at Dutch & Company. Haleh had just gone out on her own and started an upholstery business – Haleh Pedram’s Upholstery and Ideas. Haleh gave me her business card which I slid into my back pocket, knowing instantly that I would be calling on her one day.

Little did she know that several years later she would be getting a call to come check out a scraggly old sofa in a building on Hull Street, formerly known as the Thalhimers – Baldwin Building. The building was once a vintage bookstore and was loaded up with 1940’s sex education books for newlyweds, adult coloring books, and off in a corner of the first floor sat an old dilapidated Duncan Phyfe sofa. Much like the building, the sofa was in very poor condition given its many years of neglect. But like the building, we saw potential in this rundown sofa…and we knew the perfect person who could bring it back to life.

It was a rainy day when Haleh inspected the sofa and soon thereafter it was gingerly placed at her studio in Oregon Hill. Upon inspection we found that the leg on the sofa was barely hanging on. There were also several other badly split wood pieces at the arm of the sofa. I think we all knew that this sofa was going to be a challenge, but didn’t quite understand just how challenging. Nonetheless, Haleh-the kind soul that she is-took the sofa into her care with a smile on her face.

Given the enormity of the task at hand, it would be a while until we saw the Duncan Phyfe again. In the meantime, Haleh designed and sewed us two oyster pillows that would go along with the sofa. One pillow was a copy of a fossilized oyster that she had and the other was a representation of our Anderson’s Neck oyster. We were more than happy to oblige Haleh with a 50 count oyster bag full of our oysters to use as models for the oyster pillow. On a rainy night in November we shucked and ate oysters in her studio for inspiration’s sake….what a blast!

The sofa has gone through a major transformation and Haleh did a wonderful job recording the process on her instagram account. She literally had to strip the sofa completely down to its bones. Along with that, she had to learn woodworking given the damaged wood in multiple locations. The legs on the sofa are a very unique design, which she carved four times. Haleh’s attention to detail and love for her craft is seen in every inch of the sofa.

Needless to say, all good things come to those who wait. Yesterday, we picked up our restored Duncan Phyfe in all its glory. The sofa has been transformed into a thing of exceptional beauty. This sofa would have never seen the light of day if it had not been for us working together and taking a chance on it. Much like the buildings that we are renovating in Manchester, this sofa symbolizes the journey that we are on.

I’m so proud of Haleh and the work that she does. The world is her oyster and she’s taking all the opportunities that it has to offer by putting herself out there and doing what she loves. She’s a true RVA Maker and Boss Babe!

Without further adieu…here are pictures of the Duncan Phyfe’s journey.


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