A few miles from the Capitol, in what feels like a getaway from political turmoil, lies a piece of vintage British culture in Washington.
Former Capitol Hill staffer turned lobbyist Daphna Peled left her political career to start Pillar & Post, an antique shop in Georgetown that sells British furniture and decor such as tea sets, pillows and artwork.
The timing couldn’t have been better.
“I feel so lucky because when I left before the election, most people thought Hillary [Clinton] was going to win and it was going to be a continuation of the previous administration,” Peled said. “Everything’s dramatically changed and there’s so much volatility right now and upheaval, and to not be a part of that but rather to kind of be in my own little world … the timing worked out so well.”
Peled, 46, left the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, where she spent eight years, in October. She signed the lease for 1647 Wisconsin Ave. NW in February, and the shop has been fully open for a few weeks.
“After the election, people were shell-shocked for a while and are still kind of recovering and figuring out how to move ahead. It seems to me, at least now from the outside, that things are a little bit more partisan and just very hectic,” she said.
Peled lobbied as a Democrat on telecom issues, which, she said, have never been particularly partisan with a few exceptions.
“From what I can tell now, things are definitely more partisan and tumultuous,” she said.
But she has kept up with her relationships from the political world.
“Everybody’s so interested in what I’m doing,” she said. “It’s exciting for people to hear different things and not the same old thing of, what are you lobbying on?”
After graduating from Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown University Law Center, Peled was a public defender in Baltimore and then practiced litigation for a firm in Prince George’s County.
“This is kind of my second big career change, if you think about it, but this is much, much bigger,” she said.
She came to Capitol Hill in 1999 to work on telecom issues for Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak. In 2003, she moved to the Senate side to work for North Dakota Sen. Byron L. Dorgan on his Commerce Committee portfolio.
She later worked for the Motion Picture Association of America for a year, and started with the NCTA in 2008.
“I always knew I didn’t want to lobby forever and that I had interests outside of telecom,” she said. “I’ve always had an interest in decor and decorating. Before my parents came to live in Georgetown, they lived in London for 15 years. I would always go over and visit them. I loved the British look and I’d always bring things back to my house.”
She added, “I decided to give a shop a go. I didn’t think that there was something like that here. There’s a lot of Swedish antiques, there’s a lot of French antiques but nobody kind of sells the British look and we combine antiques with modern British brands and accessories.”
She is the owner and president and her mother is vice president.
“This is a big gamble,” she said. “I opened the shop with the belief [that] these are things I love. So, will this be a long-term success? That’s definitely my hope but it’s a big leap.”