Casey and Jamie Carl have lived in Edina’s Morningside neighborhood for over 12 years. Like many couples, the pair chose to live in the community for its exceptional schools and local amenities like easy access to terrific local retail. Now, after long careers in the retail industry with one of Minnesota’s storied corporations, the duo has opened their own shop called Serge + Jane near 44th and France Avenue, just blocks from their Edina home.
Named after Serge Gainsbourg, a famous French musician, and Jane Birkin, an English actress, singer and Hermes’ muse for the famous Birkin bag, the Carls are inspired by that couple’s individual successes that when combined led to magic and mischief. “[Serge and Jane] became even more well-known after they released the scandalous single Je t’aime … moi non plus … [which was] banned from radio play in many countries,” Jamie says. “Our space will be much like their vibe … laid back, rebellious, sexy, passionate, moody and full of art, fashion and music.”
Originally from North Dakota, Casey’s family moved to the Twin Cities to be near his father’s employer, Dayton’s, where he ran the company’s home stores. Later, both Casey and Jamie would work for a combined 40+ years at Target Corporation in a variety of roles. From business analyst to merchandizing to marketing, Jamie would end up spearheading huge internal events for Target that often included celebrity guests and thousands of employees. Casey’s path through merchandising included grocery, toys, sporting goods and home décor only to later tackle the company’s digital turnaround and then strategy and innovation. Things like Target’s in-store pickup, curbside delivery and the Cartwheel app were all developed under Casey’s leadership.
Knowing she would eventually start her own business, Jamie was the first to step off the corporate ladder about 8 years ago. With young children in the picture combined with complicated work travel schedules, she decided she’d done all she dreamed of doing at Target. She speaks highly of her experience but says she felt fulfilled and ready for a new adventure. “I always dreamed of opening a new store,” she says.
The couple then purchased a lot near 44th and France but had to sit tight on any plans to build a storefront while a small area plan was completed by the city. They were willing to wait. “We knew this was where we wanted to be,” Casey says. Their years of retail experience told them the area was a sweet spot between Linden Hills and 50th and France and, “selfishly, it’s an easy walk or bike ride to work from our house,” he says.
As local residents, the couple were active in area planning and wanted to invest in something that would become a meeting place in the community and that the city would value. “We want to draw foot traffic out of these [nearby] neighborhoods and be a spot on people’s paths,” Casey says.
Building an Apparel Brand
Armed with a lot of ideas but not necessarily specific apparel experience, the couple also wanted to go through the process of designing apparel that would have local appeal. So, they launched the retail brand North Coast Soul. Marketed as a lifestyle brand that mixes the chill vibes of the “left coast” with a humility and humanity that can only be found in the North, the North Coast Soul brand includes T-shirts, hats, totes and cups that are eclectic and funky—and just a bit edgy. These products are designed and produced locally and 10 percent of the profits benefit local causes.
This led to having some fun “merch” on hand, but the couple was still without a finished storefront from which to sell their inventory. So, they decided to launch the products at a local trend event which led to several more trend events. “It’s weird but we decided to just go,” Jamie says. This gusto would motivate Casey to step away from his corporate career two years ago and focus full-time on building out the new Serge + Jane retail space that caters to men and women and includes an upper level shared creative/work/event space and leasable space on the garden/walkout level.
Casey and Jamie are especially excited about the building’s unique rooftop space where they plan to host brand launches, fashion events and casual cocktail fetes. “It’s something totally unique and special for the area,” Jamie says.
In this wild, wild west of a retail landscape that’s shifting rapidly toward online shopping, the Carls feel confident about what they’ve created as successful merchants who’ve acquired years of experience in digital technology and guest experiences. “We know people can’t replace community, connection and the serendipity that only a physical experience can provide,” Jamie says. “We feel strongly that what we’re creating will bring people together in real life to work, hang out, shop and just be present."