Golden Mean Brings Artful Gifts and Local Creators to Bouldin Creek
The gift shop and art gallery has something for everyone
Golden Mean only opened its doors in March of this year, but owner Grace Milligan had dreamed of creating her artist-focused gift shop and art gallery for many years before. Milligan is a Houston native who lived in New York City for more than a decade before making the move to Austin with the goal to open her own store.
During her time in NYC, she developed deep interests in art and fashion while working in sales, merchandising, wholesale, PR and styling at Wolves Within, Home Of The Brave, Urban Outfitters and the Massimo Bonini Showroom. The tastemaker also spent time working at San Francisco’s Rare Device, which became a huge inspiration for her own shop, specifically the art gallery element of the concept.
Boasting a curated selection of new and vintage home decor items, stunning jewelry, artful gifts and humor-infused greeting cards, Golden Mean aims to have products for any and every customer. The gorgeous store is approachable yet elevated, accessible yet sophisticated.
“I’m making sure there’s something for everyone here,” says Milligan. “Something for your grandparents. Something for your niece. Something for yourself. Something for your partner. I wanted to make sure there was something for every category.”
Walking around the natural light-filled locale is similar to perusing through a museum thanks to the intricate and show-stopping products inside, but in this space, you’re invited to interact with the work. There’s trendy and colorful glassware, stunning ceramics and one-of-a-kind pieces of art, and Milligan wants you to fully experience all of it.
“You’re going to see things that you’ve never seen before,” adds the owner. “The space is a little elevated, but I encourage people to touch things and pick things up, to open the books and flip through them in the store.”
Golden Mean is a reflection of Milligan’s personal interests in all things art and vintage, as well as her wide network of talented friends and acquaintances. It’s easy to see the amount of effort and heart the passionate entrepreneur has poured into this store on the journey to get to Golden Mean’s opening day. In the approximately 10 months it took to prepare to open her retailer, Milligan established relationships with vendors at flea markets and pop-up events, via Instagram and through friends and family.
“I know all the faces behind the brands and I think that people connect with that and they can see that these are all small businesses and handmade items,” states the entrepreneur. “It’s important to me to work with a lot of local artists that not only are Texas-based, but also Austin-based.”
She found a home for her storefront in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood, close to a Juiceland location, Once Over Coffee Bar, the iconic Passport Vintage and other businesses that Milligan considers to be like-minded to her own. Her vision for the open-concept business was strong — and it had to be, as the location previously housed a laser hair removal salon, complete with smaller, sectioned-off rooms and a lower ceiling in one area of the space.
“When I first saw the space, I thought to myself, ‘I can envision this being a white box, even though it’s hard to do that right now,’” explains Milligain with a laugh. “The landlord agreed to completely renovate and once I had the lease signed, it was go time.”
A landmark feature of the store is the 10-foot wall where artists present their work in the form of a monthly gallery. The first exhibition to be put on display when Golden Mean opened was Keli Ma’s “MEMENTO MARY,” a collection of 15 original Polaroids by the Texas artist. The store’s second exhibition was “THESE ARE THE DAYS,” a gallery from Austin-based Rob Chase made up of original lettering, lines and mantras on a selection of vintage frames and mirrors, all sourced in Texas.
For each gallery, the store hosts an opening party in an effort to bring people together in an authentic and celebratory way. Events are important to Milligan, who envisions community, representation and inclusivity as integral pillars of her establishment. The store even hosted an event during South by Southwest, less than two weeks into business. Stay tuned for more information about upcoming gallery openings and community events, as Milligan always has an idea up her sleeve.
Many amazing local and global brands and artists are featured at Golden Mean. Highlights include Soul Studio, a mother-daughter duo creating naturally-dyed goods; Lauren Hunt, an artist crafting stunning works of glass art, and Landry McMeans, who designs detailed hand-cut stencil prints. The shop’s name comes from The Golden Mean principle, defined as the desirable middle between two extremes. Also known as The Golden Ratio or Fibonacci Sequence, Milligan describes the concept as something that represents balance, art and humanity.
“The goods that I carry can be the perfect final touch that adds to a space,” explains Milligan. “I felt like The Golden Mean really connected with what I represent here.”
On top of that, she liked the idea of the store carrying her own initials of “GM,” a fitting touch for such a personal project. At the end of the day, Milligan’s favorite part of owning and operating Golden Mean is interacting with her customers, whether that’s through having an in-depth conversation or simply greeting them with a smile while they peruse the handmade goods.
“The whole point is to connect with people,” she explains. “I think that people are happy to have a go-to place to get cards or a journal or just have a place if they want to come in and hang out and talk without buying anything.”
Right now, Milligan has one part-time employee, and Milligan herself is in-store every day of the week. Pieces are available at a myriad of price points in the hopes that everyone can find something that works for their budget. New items arrive daily, and the owner’s dreams for the retail space are to grow with the artists she currently carries and increase her inventory to carry more Austin-based artists.
“When you visit Golden Mean, you’re going to see things that you’ve never seen before, new and vintage,” says Milligan. “You’ll come and you’ll leave being inspired.”