Ashe Martin and Laure Antoine are the proud curators of Crown City Curiosities, an LGBTQIA+, women-owned curiosity shop in the Cortland Corset Building. Their space captivates the eye and captures the imagination in every corner. Dangling from the grand double-height ceilings are rare plants, and the old brick walls bearing scars of past fires are now festooned with vintage clothing, local art, and antiques. Old hutches serve as homes for costume jewelry, oddities, retro decor and stacks of books. An apothecary cabinet is brimming with locally grown herbs and teas from Horsetail Herb Farm. Through an archway draped in scarves and beads is a classroom that hosts workshops by Forged from Ashe Studios. Striving to create a beautiful, safe, & inclusive atmosphere for their patrons, Crown City Curiosities offers private shopping by appointment at no additional charge, in addition to private event space.
We asked these innovative women if they could pique our curiosity by answering a few questions about their space, inspiration and future plans for Crown City Curiosities.
What inspired you to open Crown City Curiosities?
We decided to open Crown City Curiosities because of our mutual love of vintage clothing, plants, and collecting unusual and odd historical items. Between us both, we have over 20 years of collecting under our belts!
Where did the name Crown City Curiosities come from?
Interestingly enough, we debated about calling it Cortland Curiosities but landed on our current name because abbreviating it fit so well within our logo; the three crescent moons on the cards represent the three "C's" in our name.
Why choose the Cortland Corset Building for your shopfront?
Initially, we had started as a private art studio, but when we realized we needed more room, we combined our collections into a shop. The Cortland Corset Building is an icon, and the community within it embraced us and has made the building feel like a second home.
If your shop was a song, what would it be and why?
Scissor Sisters “Take Your Mama” because we tend to turn everything we do into an opportunity to socialize, find joy and strengthen our community.
I know you just opened, but are any exciting projects (or future projects) in the works?
Yes! We just added an apothecary with herbs from Horsetail Herb Farm and other sources. Soon we’ll be hosting herbalism and related classes, including tea blending, candle making, ritual item creation and more. We are in the planning stages of setting up a cafe space outside our studio on the first floor, and we have been hard at work cleaning up the backyard space so we can start offering outdoor classes and events.
What item do you have in your shop that is a staple in your home?
Laura: My great grandmother, Sarah Gayman’s lacy ferns, which she collected as a child in the first half of the 1800s. Through propagation, they are now available for sale.
Ashe: All three of our locally made featured products. Stinky Girl Beauty Co., Heshbon Bath, and Hedge and Co. Tea. I've also been captivated by bottles and vases shaped like hands.
What is your favorite locally made item (perhaps one you sell)?
Laura: I’m sensitive to many ingredients in commercial skincare, so I especially love Stinky Girl products from Stinky Girl Beauty Co.
Ashe: Heshbon Bath serum and rose water spray. Since I started using them regularly in my beauty regimen, I feel like my skin has bounced back from the years of sun exposure from farming. Their lotion has also helped my tattoos heal better than any other lotion I've used. Locally sourced and delicious Hedge and Co. Tea blends are a close second.
What is Cortland County’s best-kept secret?
The cemetery at Shackham Pond is breathtaking, and barely anyone knows where it is!
Describe Cortland County in three words.
Adventure, romance, and community. We love it here!
Crown City Curiosities' current hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 1-7pm, and by appointment. On the First Friday of each month, they host a social hour in the shop, directly following the live figure drawing (held on the third floor of the Corset Building, from 7-10pm). Keep an eye on the Crown City Curiosities Facebook and Instagram pages for announcements of upcoming events, such as the live vintage fashion show.
Visit Crown City Curiosities at:
75 E. Court Street
Share your curious Cortland County adventures with us for a chance to be featured! Tag @experiencecortland607 and use hashtag #experiencecortland.