Don’t you love the fact that no matter how well you know Manhattan there is always something new to discover? A new store, a new restaurant, a new art gallery. I also like the fact that a lot of these undiscovered treasures are usually small, independently run businesses. The one I picked to feature in this week’s column is no exception. The Dressing Room is located in the newly gentrified lower east side on Orchard Street. It is a lot more interactive than a traditional boutique with its retail area, bar and clothing exchange business. Co-founded by Alexandra Adame, whom I first met years ago when she worked as a publicist, and her business partner Paul Frazier, the space is welcoming and makes you feel like hanging out to shop, grab a drink with friends and even catch a movie (there is a movie screen where day and night movies ranging from 70’s kung-fu to Breakfast at Tiffany’s are screened and Sunday afternoons feature a theme movie screening). The retail area, referred to as the Designers’ co-op, features a wide array of independent designer labels such as Peter Hidalgo, TaMelo, Annette Gortz, Alissa Chapman, Maria Intscher, Yarimaki, and Out of Print t-shirts. There is also a broad selection of jewelry and accessories from brands such as Anomaly, Heather Benjamin, The Atelier E, VraiFaux, Hunter-Gatherer, The Divine Tribe, Lisa Medoff, and Verameat. The good news is that one does not have to break the bank in order to update one’s wardrobe, retail prices range from $30 for a luxe cotton t-shirt to $500 for a custom-made cocktail dress. With the holidays around the corner I’d say that sounds like the perfect place to find a party dress or a last minute gift! The clothing exchange portion, located on the lower floor of the space, works as follows: all vintage and second hand items are selectively bought or traded, to, from, and with the public on a walk-in basis. And the best part, items left behind will be donated to charity. The store has been opened since late 2007 and in 2009 it won the Fashion Group International Rising Star for Retail. Having weathered the last recession the shop is forging ahead, continuing to establish itself as a great ressource to discover new talents. If you are in the neighborhood or heading that way, pop on Twitter to find out what is happening that day (or evening) at the Dressing Room. Its twitter handle is @DressingRoomNyc.
Follow Miriam on twitter @MiriamDriot
Store website: www.thedressingroomnyc.com
1. What do you love most about your job?
There are many perks to my job. Among them, having the freedom and flexibility to make the job whatever I want it to be. I’m able to experiment and try out new ideas in the store, whether it’s with new cocktails, different merchandising ideas, planning events, or focusing on social media and marketing, it’s like having my own test lab. And if something doesn’t work out, I can move on to the next idea.
I also love the crash course in business that I’m getting, and learning so much as I go.
Lastly, I love being able to meet new people everyday – I never know who’s gonna walk through our door, or what’s going to happen each day – wacky, creative, rich, poor, local, foreign, all types! My days are never what I think they’re going to be. Plus I get to have my friends come and hang out with me and share good times over cocktails, music, and movies. You can’t do that at most jobs!
2. If you did not live in New York where would you live and why?
I love LA for many reasons – many of my closest friends have moved there. I love that the city preserves its history and old buildings, whereas New York seems all too eager to tear them down and replace them with something shiny and new. In LA, you can drive around and still see glimpses of the ‘50s and ‘60s in certain buildings. Most of that is lost in NYC. I also love the year-round flowers everywhere, the dry sunny days, and the easier, slower pace of the city, which still has all the diversity of NYC.
Alternately, I could easily see myself in the future living a quiet rustic life in Vermont – I’ve always loved that state.
3. When not working what do you enjoy doing?
I’m often reading – books if I have a lot of time, but usually I’m just trying to catch up on the week’s NYTimes, New York Magazine, and WWDs. I have an obsessive love for the NYTimes, and I love all kinds of magazines.
I also enjoy cooking, trying new recipes. Wandering the aisles of grocery stores. Finding unusual food items to taste.
I also love exploring new neighborhoods, and escaping to the country whenever possible for some quiet, fresh air, nature, and a walk on the beach.
4. What is your best memory from childhood?
It would probably have to be the amazing trips my parents took me on, which were an education of their own on different cultures and customs, and broadened my world view. Staying in a tiny hotel in the medieval town of Saint Paul de Vence in the south of France, where Picassos hung on the walls, or watching the sun rise outside my tent on the plains of the Masai Mara in Kenya, or accompanying my mother on a trip down the California coast to visit all the Saks Fifth Avenue branch stores.
Or simply watching from the tarmac as the planes would take off and land at Westchester County airport with my father, as he explained landing procedures to me.
5. What is your favorite holiday destination and why?
So hard to choose just one, but probably any part of Italy, either someplace I’ve already been to, or a new city, would be ideal for me. Beautiful architecture, art, countryside, culture, the sound of the language, and of course the food!
Oh! or Hong Kong! Absolutely one of my all-time favorite cities. The contrasts between the old and new world, and the unusual blend of cultures make for a magical environment. Between the scenery, the history, the incomparable cuisine (my favorite!), there’s so much to do there, not to mention the fantastic shopping!
6. Book or e-reader? Why and what are you currently reading?
Books, for sure! I love books and am not an avid adopter of new technology and don’t enjoy extended reading on a screen, it just doesn’t seem healthy, like it strains the eyes.
Lately I’ve been getting into my friend Jim Higdon’s new book The Cornbread Mafia, a fascinating investigation into a network of community farmers in rural Kentucky in the 1980s who became the largest homegrown marijuana syndicate in history and their ultimate clash with local and federal law enforcement. Kentuckians take their marijuana as seriously as they do their bourbon!
7. Which social media platform do you use and how did they impact your business?
We use Facebook and Twitter. We promote our events and our merchandise on both. It gives us a way to communicate with our customers and friends in an immediate way and also gives us a platform to create a more personal identity for the store. I only started accounts on both mainly to promote the store. I personally have no desire to tell the world where I am and what I’m doing. Who wants to know?
8. What is a true luxury for you today?
Free time to myself. Time spent with friends. Good sleep. An excellent meal. Fresh country air. Travel – going somewhere, anywhere at all.
9. What is your biggest accomplishment to date? Why?
Keeping The Dressing Room open for the past 5 years! I marvel everyday at that miracle.
INperson: Duncan Quinn
INperson: Peter Hidalgo
INperson: Elizabeth Uss
INperson: Shamma Fidaly
INperson: Selima Salaun
INperson: John Bartlett
INperson: Lisa Weiss
INperson: Jin Soon
INperson: Hubert Barrere
INperson: Lissa Hussian & Dominique Marano
INperson: Valentine Pozzo di Borgo
INperson: Pierre-Andre Senizergues
INperson: Patrice Farameh
INperson: Christina Neault
INperson: Barney Bishop
INperson: Chrissie Morris
INperson: Christopher Chong
INperson: Francesco Clark
INperson: Christine J. Brandt
INperson: Rolando Santana
INperson: Diane Clehane
INperson: Pierre Cardin