FWD is a consulting and development firm with a mission to create unconventional real estate that builds social fabric. 

Our projects rethink physical spaces with three goals: create strong communities, enhance local economies, and transform lives.

Hourglass II



“Boston has a wildly creative, unbelievable
art and fashion community. Experiential retail is helping people understand a new narrative about their space and their city.”
— Nicole Fichera

After the first Hourglass pop-up, we were thrilled, overwhelmed, and utterly exhausted. The project had been an undeniable success: the press coverage had been breathless and excited, our social media following had exploded, our partners were thrilled, our community was electric with energy.

But our bodies and minds were spent. Running a pop-up with a tiny team of volunteers is hard. It’s even harder when you are not only staffing the store, but you are using your days off to actually make new products to keep things stocked, and hosting events and programs in the off-hours.

Not to mention our lives had been deeply impacted by this project in other ways. My dining table and benches and art and throw pillows and accessories had all been pulled out of my house to make the space look beautiful and finished, so my house had become an unfinished disaster zone, basically just a place to sleep and shower, not a real restful environment. And our health had taken some hits as well—I was suffering pretty severe foot pain, panic attacks and insomnia.

Pop-up life is not for the faint of heart.

So for our second iteration of Hourglass, we decided to do things differently. We built out a new model for the project that would keep the vision and excitement and the community growing, but that would allow us to keep our homes and our health in better shape. We rented a smaller space to keep our event hosting to a more reasonable scale, we partnered with AllModern to provide furniture so we wouldn’t need to strip our homes, and we decided to only open on the busiest days of the week to give ourselves some proper downtime.

We also took this opportunity to really hone in on a direction for the store. Since we were going into the holiday season, we decided to focus on one of our favorite love languages: gift-giving. Thinking about what showing love through gifts gave us a great jumping off point for new product ideas, and we expanded our product offerings significantly.

As I did research on gift-giving, I kept finding all of the standard articles with titles like “Gifts for Him”, “Gifts for Her”, “Gifts for Mom/Dad”, “Gifts for Teachers”, etc. That didn’t sit right with us. In our community, these traditional gender roles and hetero-patriarchal structures felt wrong. For us, friends can be family, roommates can be family, coworkers and colleagues can be powerful emotional supporters. So we decided that we would create and source collection of fashion and lifestyle products that were still femme-spirited, but that weren’t designed around traditional societal roles. Not gifts for him or her or mom or dad—just gifts for people.

This new little store, Hourglass II, was a real home run for us in many ways. It gave us a chance to experiment with a new aesthetic direction (we called the vibe “Space Grandma”), allowed us to open for the holiday season with an expanded product line, and helped us grow our brand while maintaining our health and sanity. We hosted more photoshoots, more events, made friends with customers, cried, laughed, and finally closed up the pop-up shop at the end of 2019. 

Our next pop-up will incorporate many of these learnings, but will again shift the model. Hourglass is an experiment. The sand never falls the same way twice.

Full project gallery below:

Hourglass I

Hourglass I

Mass Fashion Symposium

Mass Fashion Symposium