Jo Victoria Russell and Michelle Butler met in 2014 when their 2-year-old sons became best friends.
Russell, who is better known as JV, had just moved to Cayman, and Butler would be her first local companion. Seven years later, Russell and Butler’s close friendship has blossomed into a business partnership based on mutual trust, shared design aesthetic and a complementary skill set.
Russell is perhaps best known for her work as a communications and public relations coordinator at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort. She previously worked as a journalist in the United Kingdom, and has a passion for poetry and writing that suffuses everything she does.
An architect by trade, Butler is the owner of the Design Studio and her vocation is very much in her blood. Her mother owned a branch of the business in Turks & Caicos, and her father is an accomplished builder.
In summer 2020, Butler approached Russell about partnering to acquire Bedside Manor, a business with a successful 22-year history operated by former owner, Sara Lesieur.
“We’re not reinventing the wheel,” Russell said of the plans for Beside Manor. “Sara did such a great job — this was a labour of love for her and we’re not going to change much.”
Since it's already an established store with strong brands and a loyal following, Russell's vision for Bedside Manor is simply to elevate what Lesieur had already created and bring a fresh energy to the space.
In April, the physical store underwent a facelift for an open, lighter feel with a touch of Butler's and Russell’s modern style — a cheeky surrealist-collage mural, added pops of colour to the walls and a stunning quartz crystal chandelier over the point-of-sale.
"We’ll be maintaining the same brands, but adding a few thoughtful ideas,” Russell said.
The store will continue the product line around its three "Bs" — bedding, bath and baby — but will now include a new element called "boudoir."
"Boudoir" will be reflected in store with a beautiful desk of writing instruments and designer stationery to encourage thoughtfulness at home.
“It’s this traditional sense of the space in a home where a person can go to write letters, communicate and be self-reflective," she said.
Russell plans to host monthly writing workshops where guests can pen poetry, love letters or sweet notes to friends. The idea, she says, is to expand Bedside Manor beyond a simple retail store and to share the space with the community.
This article also appears in the May 2021 print edition of Camana Bay Times.