Get to know Bermuda through the eyes of its locals.
A few years ago, Nicole Golden was working a 9-to-5 job and looking for a new challenge. She also happened to be decorating her home, scouring estate sales and local shops.
Inspiration struck, and she decided to channel her creative energy into launching a weekend pop-up featuring some of her finds. It was a hit, and in 2015 she found a permanent home for Urban Cottage, a lifestyle boutique that showcases eclectic local brands and hosts events.
“I cater to locals and offer something different for Bermuda,” says Golden. “ Urban Cottage is definitely the quirky one on the block.”
What’s it like to launch a business in Bermuda?
I’ve found it’s an easy place to become an entrepreneur. We’re small compared to the States where you can get crushed by the big-box stores, so here independent stores really have a chance.
Still, to be safe, I decided to gauge interest by hosting a weekend pop-up for a few months with a mix of my collected antiques and some new merchandise. It was in an industrial warehouse area, Well Bottom in Warwick, the last place you’d think to find a shopping experience. My family thought I was crazy at first, but I invited people, and it spread by word of mouth.
I found a building right in Hamilton that has a rich history. It was originally a sawmill, then a china shop, followed by a boutique, and then I came along. A train used to run right by the building. Throughout the space, I have images of nostalgic Bermuda—including the building’s past incarnations—as well as some personal effects.
My family’s been in Bermuda forever; I can’t think when they haven’t been here. My great-grandfather was here and had a tuck shop in Dockyard. I have the scales from his store in my store, and some of the family trunks.
How does Urban Cottage stand out amid the local shopping scene?
It’s a young, very relaxed vibe in here, which is totally different for Bermuda, a place where things tend to be traditional. We host live music in the store some days, and our lineup ranges from spoken word events with local poets to wine tastings to happy hours with Dark ‘N Stormys ®.
We carry local fashion designers, some of whom are edgy and didn’t really have a home, as well as vintage and reclaimed goods. We change it up all the time; we have weekly new arrivals. A few of my favorites include Rebecca Little’s jewelry line of sculptural pieces and Nettleink, a textile company that creates pillows with old-time images and maps of Bermuda.
What are some other island favorites that you’d recommend to visitors?
I suggest dining at Seaside Grill on the North Shore and Jamaican Grill, an off-the-beaten path spot that has a Friday’s jerk chicken pit on the sidewalk. I’m also a fan of Swinging Doors, a hole-in-the-wall club on Court Street in Hamilton, for a late-night out or a Sunday cod fish breakfast.
In the summertime, I like going to the county games, all-day cricket matches. They’re a bit of a fashion show too. Girls go all out, they’re very fashion forward here. So it’s a great place to people-watch and enjoy seafood, like fresh mussel pies paired with rum swizzles or beer.
Summer also means Carnival in Bermuda. It’s three days full of events, including live Soca music (each band has different themes for its elaborate costumes) and both partake in day and night “all white” parties, where everyone wears white.
What inspires you about living and working in Bermuda?
I grew up in Bermuda and, outside of it being a beautiful place, I love that it’s a melting pot. The culture is really developing. And with the shop, I get to meet so many cool people all the time. There’s an office upstairs for creative types, and it’s a very personal space—people stop in throughout the week just to say hi.