Like Mother, Like Son


A staple in the design community for over thirty years, Susanne Hollis has traveled the globe to curate one of the most robust collections of art, artifacts and antiquities for her 19,000-square-foot South Pasadena showroom. Now following in her footsteps is Hollis’ son Mik, who spent summers as a child scouring Europe with his mother, then later learned the art of craftsmanship and quality in the family workroom. He has returned to the helm, bringing a wealth of knowledge in fine arts, guiding the famed gallery into a new era of design. We chatted with Mik to uncover his plans for the company, re-opening now as HOLLIS, with two new locations.

What inspired you to take over the business? I’ve been in the family business all of my life, even while I pursued other endeavors, but I ultimately joined formally when the time was right for me to take the helm. I feel fortunate to be in a position to expand on my Mother’s legacy, and to be taking our family practice into a new generation.

How did your mother’s love for design shape your passion? You know, my love of design came to me rather begrudgingly. My childhood summers were filled with buying trips to Europe and Asia with my mother, which I hated at first. But over time, learning about decorative arts and how it connects to world history (and is really, at its core a story of politics), made me realize that this can be a lifelong pursuit. As I grew up in the business and spent time at the showroom and in our workshop, I began to absorb the finer points of craftsmanship.

-What guided the opening of two new locations? It may seem counterintuitive to open a new shop today, let alone two shops, but our business has always been based on our relationships. Certainly we have all seen the rise of online shopping, but we still believe in a level of trust that only an lRL relationship can deliver. Our approach to opening two new spaces is based in moving past the outmoded parts of retail (in fact we have fortified our website in the last few years,) to work in tandem with our in-store offerings. We are aiming to create a new kind of shopping experience that offers an ever-evolving sense of discovery. Add to that a very high level of customer service, and we hope to continue being Pasadena’s trusted design resource in the age of misrepresented online merchandise. We are rethinking what brick-and-mortar needs to be, so it can give you everything online can’t.

-How will HOLLIS be similar yet different to when your mother was at the helm? We are taking everything our customers love about the business my Mother built to the next level. For the last 30+ years, we have run multiple arms of our business under one roof, which worked for us. But now, as we move into two new Pasadena locations, we are able to devote more focused attention to our service offerings. Our San Marino showroom will serve as our first retail concept, where we’re embracing a new approach to in-store shopping, and seamless online-to-offline integration for a new time. It’s all about offering the next level of discovery and service that our family has stood behind for decades, reinvigorated for your changing needs.

Our new Pasadena flagship is a massive space that will allow us to show our full inventory in a way that we haven’t been able to show before. We have also always had an onsite in-house artisan workshop for our custom made furniture, which will be expanded in size and scope at our new flagship space. Together, these two spaces will provide a great design resource for both the tasteful homeowner with a passion for good design, as well as the integral design trade.

-What are your pandemic protocols for in-gallery shopping?Surprisingly, Covid has actually increased our business, which was unexpected going into this pandemic. As people are spending so much time inside, they are prioritizing all things that make their house a home. We feel privileged to be working with our almost 40 year history of clientele, to bring more joy and happiness, and even a sense of security and stability during an unprecedented time.

With both locations, we are rethinking how our spaces function for better safety. Our new flagship is located on an indoor-outdoor, campus style space, so that customers won’t be confined to smaller spaces. And although we will continue to have regular business hours, we are also pursuing more scheduled, by-appointment visits for clients who need extra time with us.

-What can designers look forward to seeing at the gallery that sets you apart from other resources in Southern California? A place for discovery for fine antiques, traditional handmade furniture, unique home accessories, and access to our whispered custom furniture workshop. We will continue to source from around the world (as soon as we are able again), but we will also be drawing on local artisans from all over California. My focus will be on emerging makers, ceramicists, and artisans who live and work in the area. We have such a rich fine and decorative arts history here in the city, and with our new HOLLIS shops we see an opportunity to present work that is emblematic of our unique Pasadena culture and history.

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