When designer Erik Kegler moved to Jackson 17 years ago, he never would have imagined where he is sitting today.

“We’ve worked steadily and grown and I’m not sure how this all happened; I just kept placing one foot in front of the other!”

Those steps have lead Kegler and partner Brennan Hovell to Erik Kegler Interiors, Eventful and their newest venture, EK Home. The new interiors and design showroom, located in the former Harkins Florist building next to Banner Hall, is the culmination of years of searching and the need to streamline the operation.

“Five years ago I started [Eventful] the party rental and design business,” Kegler explains. “[My clients] wanted things and I wasn’t finding, so I asked, ‘Why aren’t we doing this ourselves?’ We have been running two very separate businesses in two areas and decided to simplify.”

Searching Fondren for a storefront for the design and party business, Kegler and Hovell approached Margaret Williams, owner of Ye Old Lamp Design and Shades (who also owned the building). “It was too much for Eventful and the [interior] design business is small, so we thought to open a store that has things we love. It works around all our clients in this area.” Kegler called it the “perfect location” and the “perfect timing.”

EK Home will be another option and choice for shoppers in Fondren. “In retail, you don’t want to saturate with one idea or one thing,” Kegler says. “[Our store] is a little different niche and how we see things.” Hovell says they have worked closely with their merchandise reps to make sure they aren’t carrying what others do. Kegler calls it “our intent to make room for everyone.”

The store itself has been two years in the making. Kegler and Hovell are unpacking boxes, remembering what they bought and falling in the love with the pieces all over again. They hope their customers will, too. “We buy what we love,” Kegler says. “If we had to take it all home and put it in our house tomorrow, would we?” Hovell asks. “And we were like, ‘Yes.’” “But we wouldn’t want to,” Kegler adds with a laugh.

Ready-to-purchase items, from furniture to furnishings, hard lines and soft lines, including art and linens, are available. Then there are lines of upholstery that can be customized with a selection of fabrics, some that can take your measurements to fit the furniture to you – with no upcharge. “We mixed that idea: some are more custom and some more affordable, with great family room pieces,” Kegler explains. EK Home features European antiques, museum quality mid-century French paintings and other “interesting pieces.”

“We both enjoy art and want to be the spot where people can purchase unique and different art,” Hovell says. (On our visit, a large work from a North Carolina artist was priced at $1,100. Around the corner, a Jacques Nestle goes for $8,500.)

Buffered by The Antique Shops of Jackson on the north end and Banner Hall to the south, Hovell dubs this Top of Fondren strip now as “Wedding Row.” Bliss Gift and Home, Fresh Ink, The Bridal Path, Tuxes Too and Mangia Bene Catering create a destination for all things nuptial. The location is also extra convenient for the couple. “We’re happy to be in this area because we are so much about local,” Kegler says. “It’s becoming more important as our city is growing.”

“And it’s a mile from our house,” Hovell adds.

Kegler is the face of the company, “the brand,” so to speak, and Hovell understands. “I know who does all the work, so it’s fine,” he says. The couple breaks into a fit of laughter.

“We really do work and do everything together,” Hovell tells. “There’s not a client I work with he doesn’t have a hand in and vice versa. Erik’s been here 18 years and has the name recognition. From a business standpoint, let’s play on that.”

“What we have realized is that, my name has become the brand,” Kegler adds. “I say, ‘It take a village’ to make these businesses great and our employees are the most creative and understanding of how we expect things to be. The Erik Kegler umbrella of this is what you expect if you do business with us. It’s so much more about a huge village of people that take care of all this — for us, too.”

Despite the chaos of wading into uncharted territory with a retail store, Kegler and Hovell’s “next right move” approach gives them an appreciation for what they do. “I love it,” says Kegler. “I love our job. Everything about party throwing and design — it feeds my spirit. I enjoy people and love what this business has brought to our life. I feel like it’s one of those gifts — evolving into, growing into, making choices and taking risks… for all my fear: it’s a great place to be.”

The grand opening and reception for EK Home (4501 I-55 North) is Thursday, October 13 from 5-8pm. Store hours are Monday – Friday 10am-6pm. Saturday hours are 10am-4pm. Extended holiday hours will be offered.

Eventful is the preferred event rental vendor for The Cedars in Fondren.