When you enter J. Horton you’re immediately drawn in by the fun, quirky vibe, welcoming faces, and calming scent from the reed diffuser currently sitting on one of the top shelves. “That’s Coqui Coqui,” shop owner Joan Horton told me of the diffuser. “She was a model and he was a photographer,” Horton continued, explaining that the creators of Coqui Coqui had owned an organic spa together in Tulum but it burnt down. “They reopened in Coba about 45 minutes away and started as a perfumery.”
I quickly learned that this wasn’t the only story Horton was going to tell me on my visit to her shop. This New York City woman turned Madison shop owner knows the story behind just about every item in her store and I loved hearing the stories.
She walked me through the long, narrow store rattling off little tidbits and facts about different items. “These are earrings that come from Italy and this Italian family makes sculptural things out of books and one of the daughters takes some of the rejected extra paper and just turns them into earrings….These are knives all done in a village in France known for its knives. They are interesting because there are sections of France that are known for specific things….Here are Japanese safety pins, just because.”
Horton spent a career looking for unique items. She worked at Revlon for 17 years where she was in charge of all the beauty editor launches for their products. Going up against brands like Tom Ford and Chanel, Horton had to stand out if she wanted to compete, “so, I was always in search of new designers and exciting new products that no one knew about.” This career of searching for up-and-coming designers and uncommon finds all comes together at her Boston Post Road boutique.
To some , the store might look like an overwhelming collection of items. But, slow down for just a second and a sense of direction will arise. Horton did this on purpose. She said she created a space that she hopes engages you to explore. “The more you look, the more engaged you get,” Horton declared.
In the center of the store are kitchen items where you can find everything from handmade platters stamped with lace to vintage glasses to an ice bucket made by a budding designer who works only in resin.
To the right are items for your dogs and cats including dog biscuits handmade by a local baker. Horton explained that her shop used to be home to a pet store and the local dogs, out for their walk, would instinctually stop at the front door expecting a biscuit – and so she added a pet section.
Wander deeper into the store and there’s a case covered in jewelry. New to the shop, Horton showed me Cashmere and Pearls which, as the name suggests, are necklaces and bracelets made of cashmere threads and freshwater pearls.
Across from the main desk, you’ll find the men’s section with handmade knives, leather wallets, travel gear, and shaving accessories. Further back is some activewear, a small baby section, and even a small section of art, design, gardening , fashion and even dog books for fun, sale and “inspiration”:
If you need something special J.Horton will deliver, just don’t wait too long to buy it. “This store changes a lot,” Horton told me, “I don’t buy very many pieces of things…If you love something it could be here one week and then it won’t be.” So, next time you fall in love with a unique, one-of-a-kind piece at J.Horton’s, grab it while you can!