MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: CORNELIA PARK
Cornelia Park originated at the Biltmore Fashion Park in 1980 and has served generations of Phoenicians. Anne Park and the Cornelia Park team created a destination shop where customers and the sales team take joy in knowing each other by name.
As a premier purveyor of the inimitable work of MacKenzie-Childs, Anne was featured in her TSG spread wearing a custom one-of-a-kind skirt in their signature Courtly Check pattern.
Photo credit: Life Created
Q. What inspired you to begin your business?
My business was inspired by a 7 year retail career with I.Magnin. We began our business as importers of fine Asian furniture and accessories. I find it interesting that many of the current colors and Chinoiserie design looks that were popular in 1980 when we opened our first store, are again trending 40 years later.
Q. Do you have a particular local organization or charity that’s close to your heart?
Q. Tell us about a milestone you will be celebrating?
This year will be our 41st year in business at Biltmore Fashion Park. While our Cornelia Park locations in South Coast Plaza in the OC and Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto had a great community feel – nothing is ever quite as special as owning a shop in the same community where you live, work, and raise your family. I am smiling as I answer the milestone question as I cannot possibly pass over our greatest milestone – my college sweetheart, business partner, best friend, and husband and I will be celebrating 49 years of marriage this May.
Photo credit: Life Created
Q. What would you like our TSG community to know about your business?
We would like you and the community to know how enormously grateful we are for three generations of the most loyal, kind customers imaginable. We also are the most grateful business owners on earth. Our team members are long-term rock stars who have stayed with us through births, deaths, weddings, and even a pandemic! Each day is still a pleasure and with every new customer, there is a chance for us to share in their lives and in their life celebrations. Every wedding, a chance to know a family, every birth a chance to share a grandmother’s joy, and holiday after holiday, the gift of seeing families love one another and friends bring good cheer. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be crazy busy but watching customers connect as they wait for beautifully hand-wrapped gifts, is pure joy.
Q. Tell us about your Wedding Registry that locals love and brides across the country – including the granddaughters of some of your first customers – turn to for help during this special time.
Wedding Registries are one of my favorite parts of my job. I am especially grateful when I can personally assist a bride with her selections. For some brides, their own process of doing her registry is a “ dream come true project” for others it is just one more thing on a “to do” list. Some couples come together to make choices while other times we never meet the groom! The loveliest registries happen when brides include mothers and mothers–in–law in the first planning session and the final choices are put together in a sensible fashion with just the bride and an experienced CP team member.
We want Cornelia Park brides to be able to set a “lovely table” post-wedding, as opposed to owning a puzzling group of unfinished thoughts purchased by well-meaning aunties! Our favorite registry problem is a “Sold Out” registry. We love popping off a text to remind the bride or groom to make more selections. We even offer suggestions so they do not need to come back in!
Our staff is awesome at guiding purchasers to a “lovely table” goal as well as making arrangements to satisfy each bride’s needs. We have many brides who prefer to have us hold their gifts for “Pick Up” so there are no worries about deliveries and storage.
We have both online and in-person registries. We are fully able and enjoy helping the grandparents over the phone. Many guests prefer the ease of a phone order to the online process.
Q. Cornelia Park is known as a premier purveyor of the inimitable work of MacKenzie-Childs – you were even featured in our print guide wearing a custom one-of-a-kind skirt in their signature Courtly Check pattern. How did that special relationship grow over the years and lead you to become the largest independent store to sell their collections?
Photo: Life Created
In 1984 when I received my first gift of MacKenzie-Childs I had a very mystical reaction to the touch of the pottery. Oddly I felt I had painted the piece myself! The piece I received had no easily traceable identification, and remember there was no internet! It took me a full year to locate MacKenzie-Childs which, as it turns out, was in the very same town in which my grandfather was born. We became fast friends with the founders Richard and Victoria and patiently grew as they grew opening new stores and selling the hand touched product as quickly as we received it. From the first moment, it felt like the most natural marriage. Little did I know we would celebrate decades of business together.
Q. From casual to formal, trendy to traditional, one-of-a-kind to full collections – you and your team offer a selection of brands for every style and every age. Can you highlight some of the brands and products you carry and what is unique about them?
As time passed we found our loyal customers were asking for products to enhance their MacKenzie-Childs and for new looks for their second homes in the mountains or by the sea. Often customers select Juliska. Its durability, clean lines, and transitional style are a huge favorite of every age group. We also offer the Capucine De Wolf Jewelry collection created by Juliska’s co-owner and designer. We love its multi-generational appeal and many items include the same designs in several sizes so one can purchase the same design for a tiny teen or a full figure matriarch.
Among so many stellar brands Julie Vos stands out as another multi-generational brand. The 24K gold plate is a magical color on all skin tones and mixes beautifully with all kinds of other jewelry. Ben’s Garden is the best at offering heartfelt sentiments for every occasion and Little Giraffe continues to be the luxury “lovie” of choice for the past 10 years! I think we sell one replacement “lovie” for each one sold. Every mother’s worst nightmare is the lost Little Giraffe blankie!
Photo: Life Created
Q. As a trusted resource that many look to for tips on entertaining, will you please share your thoughts on the philosophy you encourage hostesses to consider when planning any type of celebration.
Over the past few years and of course during the pandemic, I think we all have changed our attitude towards entertaining at home. My mother always told me to do four great dinner parties a year, just for the “ART of IT.” It makes you put your home in order and is important to get silver polished and crystal sparkling. As much as I do love dallying over fabulous flowers and pressing perfect linens, I also find it exhausting.
My new philosophy is entertainment for the “HEART of IT” not the “ART of IT.” I want to enjoy spontaneously inviting guests and dining in the kitchen or on the patio. I want to have time for meaningful conversations with guests I love. I don’t feel the need to prove I can bake!
I love using my beautiful dishes but maybe just clipping fresh citrus for a centerpiece (my fav is when the grapefruit are still small and green but the centers are pink. I cut them open and leave them on the stems).
There is no guilt when I buy dessert from a local baker or even pizza, especially when there are “littles” attending. I find young people love to party with their children so all things must be relaxed. I still cringe when my kids bring paper towels to the table as a napkin but other than that, melamine and acrylic are in my mix!
I feel my party has been a success when I know what was in the hearts of my guests.
Photo: Life Created
2502 E Camelback Rd #185 | Phoenix, AZ 85016