WOOLY: RUDY ADLER
WNW Member #4270 Rudy Adler is launching a brand new website today called Wooly. "Original things for original people," Wooly hunts for rare, beautiful objects in places most consumers may never look. Only one of each is sold, so it’s first come, first served. When a sale begins, Wooly members are notified through email and Instagram.
As the son of antiques dealers, you could say that Rudy was destined to create Wooly. However, it wasn't until his recent move from the Bay Area to New York that the lightbulb went off: “I started decorating my apartment and was put off by the sameness of everything. So I began looking for things in uncommon places and low and behold, I started discovering these uncommonly beautiful pieces.” Wooly is targeting a younger audience than traditional, high-end auction houses by offering an eclectic group of objects at different price points. Some items coming up for sale include a collection of rare 1960s Swedish rugs, vintage NASA photographs from the moon landing, a laughing ‘70s Japanese robot, and a NY Yankees hat from the ‘61 World Series.
Rudy offers Working Not Working some insight into the inspiration and intention behind Wooly. Debuting today at 12pm ET, the first object up for sale is a vintage novelty gun from the Sterling Magic Company in Detroit, circa 1950. Remember: first come, first served.
How’d you come up with the concept for Wooly?
It’s sort of an amalgamation of my life and interests. I’m the son of antique dealers and spent my childhood around curious objects. Most recently, I was doing the startup thing in Silicon Valley and learned a lot about building software. When I moved back to NYC last year, I was put off by the sameness of everything in the retail world. And so I had this idea: to build the equivalent of Sotheby’s but for my generation, both in taste level and use of technology.
How does Wooly work?
It’s really simple: we find rare, beautiful objects and offer them for sale. There’s only one of each. The first person to raise their hand gets it. Wooly members are notified through email and Instagram when an object goes on sale. Sales happen whenever we find something that meets our standards, which are very high. We probably only sell one of every 30,000 objects we see.
What are your goals for the site?
One thing I’ve learned about building software is to start with the simplest thing possible. Our first goal is to create a brand and choose beautiful objects that people love. If we do that, we’ll be in a great position to grow.
We’re creating a brand for people that want more opportunities to buy things that aren’t sold at West Elm by the millions. Today’s retail environment is dominated by selling mass-produced goods, things that ultimately end up in the trash. I wanted to bring back the idea that everybody should own a few great things. Things with history, things that inspire you, things you might pass down to your children one day. These are objects that you probably never planned on owning, but once you do, you’ll never want to give up.
Without giving away all your secrets, where do you find these unique items?
We look for beautiful objects in their best available condition and often times, a great story behind it. Some things come from friends’ collections, and others we find through auctions and private dealers. We’re really good at finding uncommon objects in places people don’t normally look. Most people don’t have the time and expertise to do what we do, so it’s a win-win. You won’t see anything on Wooly that’s easy to find.
Are there certain items you’ve discovered that are difficult to part with and put on the block?
Yes. Pretty much every object, actually. That’s kind of how we make decisions about what to sell–we ask ourselves if we’d put it in our own homes. If the answer is yes, we scoop it. But I’ll probably be most sad to part with one thing in particular: we have a beautiful black and white mosaic of four lunar surface photographs from Apollo 15. I wanted to frame it from the moment I saw it.