The Shade & Shutter storefront in Key West

The Shade & Shutter storefront in Key West

It all started when…

Although our presence in Key West seems natural, our first visit to the island was somewhat of a random decision. “At the time, we hadn’t been on vacation in five years,” Mark explains. “I told Sarah I wanted to go on a trip that would really change my life—I had envisioned a voyage across Europe or something really grand, but we didn’t want to leave the country. Sarah brought up Key West because it’s warm and it’s about as far south as you can get without leaving the U.S. We were living in this tiny little hamlet and it was winter and it was cold and during the off-season there’s just nothing—everything shuts down. We loved the island and the people of Key West. As soon as we got home, we booked our next trip back within a few days and we kept coming back. Prior to our third year vacationing down here, we decided to look for a place to buy. When you say things out loud the universe provides; we came down prepared to purchase a house and we found one right away.”

Our appreciation for the wonders of the island has grown since the moment we first visited Key West. “There’s a freedom here that’s really nice,” Sarah says. “I love being able to sit on our porch and see people I know walking by. There is so much diversity here and everybody is so friendly. Pretty soon you have dozens of friends and everyone is different and there are all these ideas hoating around.”

Mark enthusiastically agrees. “We appreciate Key West because, to thrive here, you have to like diversity. You have to try new things and be willing to go out on a limb and if you’re willing to do those things and if you have something to offer to the island, it will embrace you and that’s what happened. And that welcoming environment really encouraged us to follow our dreams and open Shade & Shutter.”

“I think what we offer at Shade & Shutter is a different way of looking at things,” Sarah says. “For example, when people look at my photographs, they usually say, ‘I think that’s Ft. Zach, but this image is different from the way I see it.’ And Mark is focused on creating modern and functional ceramics, which is different from traditional pottery. I think Mark’s and my work go together well. We adhere to similar color palettes and I try to make my photos about one thing—something really simple. And Mark’s designs are always really clean and simple as well.”

After about a year in which we renovated our new home, we decided to open a gallery/studio where we could pursue our creative endeavors. We found a modern space in the White Street Gallery District that offered a blank page for our vision of a tranquil space to sell and create our art.

We designed a space that highlights and complements Mark’s locally crafted ceramics and Sarah’s vibrant nature photography. The gallery itself is a serene showroom as well as a working ceramics studio where Mark creates his pieces before your eyes—a space that is simultaneously sleek and modern yet still somehow rustic and welcoming. 

We welcome everyone to visit, browse, watch Mark make pottery, sit down to chat, and absorb some of the beauty and tranquility of our little haven.