Five Questions with Monelle Totah of Hudson Grace

Best friends Monelle Totah and Gary McNatton of Hudson Grace opened their first shop in 2012 in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights neighborhood, bringing years of experience in both retail and design with them. Their tableware, serveware, candles, and other entertaining essentials are a perfect mix of expert craftsmanship, vintage design, and a modern sensibility.

We spoke with Monelle to learn more about the business, and to get a preview of the new products coming out for spring.

A wood cutting board holds slices of bread and a knife as a soup bowl sits nearby.

How did it all begin for Hudson Grace?

My co-founder and I came from years of retail and design experience. Gary was from Gap Inc and the fragrance industry. I was head of design for several brands at Williams Sonoma. At some point you think ‘I want to build my own brand, I want to do it my way’. I approached Gary in 2011 and we opened the Fall of that year.

Our mutual passion for home, entertaining and design made it a great partnership… I think we saw a need for a brand that had the style of the juxtaposition of classic and modern, curated and edited for the consumer to come in and find the perfect assortment of what they need for their home.

Where are your favorite places to travel to find great ideas?

Europe is always a great source of inspiration – the history, the artistry and the authenticity in visiting a 100-year-old factory and combing through the archives, finding amazing silhouettes still relevant and functional for today.

An oversized white plater with lemons and leaves on it with lemons surrounding the platter as well.

What’s your favorite way to entertain?

I do love to entertain, the more impromptu the better – admittedly easier when you have the right serveware and enough napkins on hand, which I do. Setting the table is the most fun part. I love family style, platters of food, and lots of wine! I read once ‘cooking and love should be done with abandon or not at all’ – I would add entertaining too.

What inspires you most as you’re developing a new product?

I always ask myself would I use this or have it in my home. Many of our products come from pieces I have had for years and which have become my go tos. From linen sheets to the white bowls, I am inspired by what I find while traveling and dining out.

Why recreate a tureen if I find one in a manufacturer’s archive whose owner’s great grandfather designed based on the duomo in Milan – how can you not be unmoved by that!

A wood servings tray platter holds a pitcher with various white bowls and silver spoons from Hudson Grace.

What are three products in the line you can’t live without?

I truly do have three berry bowls, (I use one for citrus, one for tomatoes and one for berries). I can’t live without a wood serving board for charcuterie, crackers, and cheeses.

Cocktail hour is always important. I need perfect cocktail and wine glasses, and am loving our new white tortoise glass and our everyday wine glass. And of course everyone needs an oversized platter. I use Hudson Grace’s Torino deep oval platter for everything from cracked crab to salads.

Story by Stephen Treffinger / Photography by Hudson Grace

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