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Oh, Brother!

Houston’s own set of Cohen brothers have designs on fall.

The Cohen brothers

It may sound like the plot of a new sitcom: Two tall and handsome former models—brothers who have made the rounds in Manhattan, Los Angeles, Miami and Austin—return to their hometown to take over a beloved family business after a series of struggles. It may ring of TV fiction, but it’s Houston fact, as Jason Cohen, 26, and his brother Eric, 24, have taken the reigns of one of Texas’ oldest furniture stores, Blum’s Fine Furniture, which their grandfather, Morris Blum, opened in 1958. The store has been renovated and reopened after setbacks including damage from Hurricane Ike in 2008 and Morris’ death in 2009.

“It was in limbo for a while, but our mom, Tina, wanted to continue the business in honor of her father,” Jason explains. The sprawling showroom a mile west of the Galleria on Westheimer is now becoming known for its high-end private-label line and imports from places like France, Italy, Indonesia and Asia—as well as original artwork. Jason, who studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology, helps design, select and import. Meanwhile, Eric, a UT radio-television-film grad, handles the store’s marketing and advertising and shoots the commercials. “We both like to explore our creative sides,” notes Eric.

That might be an understatement. Although Blum’s is where the guys are mostly, they are Renaissance men with a growing list of ambitious side projects, including but not limited to starting up a lingerie company (yes, for real) and working on music projects for former DJ Eric and the Bellaire-bred siblings’ baby sister, Michelle. The close-knit brothers and West U roommates share an old-school work ethic as well as an appreciation for fitness. Both run the Rice track and get ample sleep—as opposed to partying into the wee hours. “When you’re focused, when you take away the distractions, you can get so much done,” Jason says. And what about dating? It’s a “hobby” they try to make time for, laughs Eric.

“In 2013, you can establish your career first,” adds Jason, who’ll soon make a fall buying trip to Europe, “and it’s not even a financial thing. It’s not ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ It’s ‘Who do you want to be?’ It’s about crafting your own experience.”

Lingerie, high heels, curls, doers, originality, open-mindedness, self-reliance, hustle, loyalty

Pretense, prejudice, pleats, small talk, traffic, fast food, labels, laziness, reality TV