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441 East 9th Street
BeetleBug 1 Event Planners Florists East Village

"Everything has a twist to it - the stems are equally as important as the flower to me," Libby Myer revealed as I stepped inside her shop admiring some of her floral arrangements. When I gazed through a clear glass vase the first thing that came to mind was the game Pick Up Sticks. Yes, Libby laughed, "All of my designs have a graphic nature to them."

Libby began her latest venture in 2017, opening BeetleBug to house her florist and event company. She enjoys being able to use her great sense of style when planning special occasions for people. From weddings of 200 or more to small intimate gatherings, she is able to coordinate a party of any kind and, of course, does the flower arrangements herself.

Libby was a clothing designer prior to becoming a floral stylist. Not new to the world of small business ownership, I learned that Libby ran a shop in Soho for years called The Smith. She carried men's and women's clothing. Pointing to an attractive ad hanging on the wall, Libby told me that this was created by Barney's in 1991. It has Christie Turlington modeling an outfit that Libby designed. Libby closed her boutique in 1996 deciding that she wanted to raise a family outside of the city. Now that her youngest is in college, and she has found time for herself again, Libby chose to jump back into retail, but this time with a different agenda.

Libby is excited to be teaching weekly floral arrangement classes. Visitors are invited to sip on a glass of champagne while learning about the "tools and conditions" of flowers. Over the course of two hours, people are taught how to both fill a vase and create beautiful bouquets.

In addition to the flowers displayed throughout BeetleBug, there are a few other items that Libby is proud to carry. The Alicia Adams Alpaca line attracted my attention. "I fell in love with it," Libby told me, as well as the woman behind it. I learned that Alicia has an alpaca farm in Dutchess County, having moved here with her family from Germany in 2006.

Another fascinating story of a young amazing woman was Jessica Hendrick Yee's, who runs The Brave Collection. Proceeds from her jewelry line go to women who are being trafficked in Cambodia. "Her designs are simple, but done with integrity," Libby told me. "I was impressed by this young girl who had a vision and a passion - she was quite impactful."

Lafco makes soy based, natural candles, and when melted all the way down it becomes an attractive empty vessel. It is at this point that it can be filled with flowers - a perfect reason to stop by Libby's shop. She will give anyone who purchases a candle a bouquet at no charge.

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More places on 9th Street

Lost Gem
Veselka 1 Breakfast Ukrainian Diners Brunch undefined


The warmly painted walls inside Veselka envelop the room in folky florals and traditional Ukrainian symbols. Hanging from the ceiling are glowing milk glass globes that seem to replace the sun or moon depending on the time of day — and it could be any time at all, as Veselka is open for twenty-four hours, seven days a week, serving a smorgasbord of pierogis, bowls of borscht, and other expertly prepared comfort foods — Ukrainian and otherwise. Wlodymyr Darmochwal planted roots for Veselka when, as one of the founders of the neighborhood Plast organization (akin to the Ukrainian boy scouts, teaching survival skills and Ukrainian language), he was asked to create a weekend study program for the boys. In response, he opened a five-and-dime style counter at the corner of East 9th Street and Second Avenue where the boys could buy paper clips, cigarettes, lighters, and, notably, bowls of borscht and other basic Ukrainian foods. The business expanded into another storefront on East 9th Street a decade later. After Wlodymyr’s passing in 1972, it was taken over by his stepson, Tom Birchard, who was later joined by his son, Jason. Today, having worked at the restaurant since he was a teenager, Jason has “done every single job possible here except cook the borscht. ”When Jason joined the team, one of his first projects was to find out, “How late can we stay open? ” It turns out the answer was “all night. ” As Tom and Jason once again prepare to expand the restaurant into an adjoining storefront on 9th Street, they are eager to continue serving the next generation the kind of traditional Ukrainian food that Wlodymyr would have had at his counter more than sixty years ago.

Lost Gem
Duo 1 Women's Clothing Vintage undefined


The essence of Duo is in its name; it is two things at once. It is dulled colors and clean lines, minimalist in feel but simultaneously filled with warmth and softness. Both young and old, vibrant and calm, it is modern and fresh but brings to mind memories of simpler times: of handwritten letters, cozy Sunday afternoons and soft breezes over the wide open fields of northern Minnesota, the owners’ home state. Conflicting and complementing all at once, Duo is the product of two minds at work. Sisters Wendy and LaRae Kangas have created a perfect little fashion oasis that fits right in with the small town vibes of Manhattan’s East Village. Growing up, Wendy and LaRae pestered each other and fought over clothes, as siblings will do, but in 2008 they decided to open up a shop together. Today, they work with dealers and emerging independent designers throughout the country and pick all their clothing, accessories and home goods by hand, combining masculine and feminine styles with modern silhouettes and vintage traces to curate a timeless collection of quality, classic pieces. “It’s a very personal process, ” they told me, “and we put a lot of love into our shop and our collections. ” Nothing at Duo is mass-produced, and most of their merchandise is recycled. The sisters pour their hearts into the shop and work hard to stay true to themselves while keeping an eye toward the future, expanding their business into the world of e-commerce and social media. “It’s important to stay current and give the customers what they want, ” they said. They love what they do, and working with family makes it even more fun, according to the sisters. “It makes work smooth when you don’t have to verbalize what you’re thinking, ” they told me, “We just know what each other is thinking and it makes choosing products and daily operations much easier. ”Duo is a celebration of creative spirit. It is clear that the sisters revel in the one-of-a-kind individuality of each and every one of their customers who come to them looking for pieces that will express their own unique style. When explaining what they love about their work, they said, “It’s great to make a customer feel better when they walk out the door. ”