When I walked into The Workshop, thinking that I would find another upmarket New York jeweler, I quickly realized that it was a kind of store I had never seen before. The Workshop sells body jewelry, but unlike many body jewelry stores, the pieces on sale are high quality and often made from precious metals and stones.
When I engaged George and Shah in conversation, - the partners who had opened the store in April 2015 - they told me that they specialize in a different sort of clientele than most body jewelry stores. As Shah said, “We are not on St. Marks.” The two men are familiar with the businesses on St. Marks, since they worked together at Jewels 32 for a year and a half prior to opening their own store. Whereas George has always been interested in piercings and different kinds of metals, Shah fell into the business through a friend. Despite their different paths, the two men appear to now share an equal passion for their craft.
George and Shah recognized the "great vibe" of the East Village and made the decision to look on 9th Street, with its hamlet of excellent small businesses and friendly characters. They knew it would be a welcoming environment and they said it already feels like the perfect fit. The two men told me that their goal is to share their passion and their knowledge with the neighborhood, and to provide a service – an upscale body jewelry boutique – that the surrounding area has yet to experience.
"I found it to be a little boring to just sell jewelry so I tried to mix it up by adding some other items made by friends," Christina Duarte Veronese revealed when we began our conversation. The shop has beautiful scarves, headbands, t-shirts, and, of course, an array of handmade jewelry designed by Christina herself.Arriving in New York from Rio in 1995, Christina's first job was selling leather products from Brazil. "The owner of my company was making belts for Ralph Lauren and he invited me here because I knew a lot about leather products." But as she confessed, "I fell in love with metal, and then one thing led to another."Before opening her boutique in 2011, Christina sold jewelry in flea markets and a variety of shows, but when a friend was giving up her lease on 7th Street, Christina said, on the spot, "I'll take it." She makes everything in Brooklyn to sell in her East Village shop, and nowadays she finds that there are many customers who come back to her shop every time they are visiting New York. "It is because of them that I am still here."
We love browsing around this eclectic gift shop whenever we are on 9th. It is clear that Urte Tylaite, the very sweet owner has a keen eye for a clean, minimalist aesthetic and a slant toward natural and organic shapes. Here one can find unique home goods, such as delicate glass-blown vases and ceramics crafted by local and international artists. We are particularly fond, however, of Urte's tasteful selection of jewelry. There is also a small collection of paper goods that includes books, notebooks, prints, and postcards. On one visit to Still House, we were delighted to meet Urte's mom who confirmed for us the careful consideration that her daughter puts into choosing the artists and craftspeople whose work is on display. It is apparent to us that it is "passion, not investment" that makes this store as special as it is.
“I make dresses for people who don’t like to buy dresses, and it’s a shop for people who don’t like to shop,” Kathy Kemp said. Though she insisted she was never a terrific seamstress, Kathy has enjoyed design since her childhood days crafting outfits for herself. As an adult, she turned her keen eye to refashioning vintage clothes.Kathy opened ANNA — named for the grandmother who taught her to sew — shortly after moving to New York, where she laid roots in the East Village. Being in the neighborhood in the 1990s was a particularly special time, and she believes the area’s unique spirit remains today.Kathy sources her fabrics from New York’s Garment Center, translates them into her own style, and has the final products refined by local seamstresses. “I like comfortable clothing that’s a little bit different but not crazy.” After stitching up a sample, she will wear it for a few days, judging how the piece feels, how it looks in different lights, how it moves, and how people react to it. It is a deeply personal and empathetic creative process.Her intimate connection to her work and her customers forms the business’ strong community. “ANNA is the kind of store you only tell your best friend about. We have a very well-edited group of people who shop here: it’s special people and their special people.” Just stepping into her cozy, old-fashioned boutique will let visitors experience what Kathy calls “ANNA magic.”
Trash and Vaudeville is actually two stores – Vaudeville, full of colorful, ornamented clothing pieces, is a more kitsch environment, while Trash “is one of the seminal punk and goth stores of NYC.” Founded in 1975 by Ray Goodman, Trash and Vaudeville began adorning Rockers, Mods, Punks, Goths, and Rockabillies – “everyday working class heroes who just wanted to walk and dress on the wild side.” Today, the store continues to cater to a similar audience, dressing rock stars, such as Lady Gaga, counter culturists, as well as the average New Yorker and tourist. Besides the bright colors, feather boas, and rubber dresses, the store’s character is derived from the people working here – most notably, Jimmy Webb. He is the epitome of rock n’ roll and an era gone by - wearing tight pants that hug his body, a leather studded vest, metal bracelets that coil up his arm, and a shag haircut that shields his eyes. Jimmy's tough appearance is marked with the gentlest of souls. He tells us that he loves Iggy Pop, that he wants to be a “little piece of a great big thing happening,” but most importantly that he loves this store. In fact he is completely devoted to it. As he bops from left to right, Jimmy cannot help but charm every visitor...and he treats each of them with the utmost kindness, whether it be a star who walks in, a music lover, or someone who is simply exploring - like us. While the store is aesthetically memorable, Jimmy makes it much more noteworthy. A few years after our interview with Jimmy, Trash and Vaudeville moved from its longstanding home on St Marks to a location on 7th Street. However, the spirit, punk vibe, and killer style (not to mention Jimmy!) followed the store. We have left up our photographs of the St. Marks store as an homage to the location that started it all. Can't get enough? See more of our interview with Jimmy here.
In 1954, a Ukrainian refugee began Veselka as a shop that sold cigarettes, candy, and newspapers with a few tables for some tasty homemade Eastern European food. Over the years, it slowly evolved into a coffee shop, and then to a casual restaurant. Almost fifty-nine years later, it continues to thrive as a neighborhood destination when one is in need of comfort food, or as my own kids have told me, it is a great late night spot too. Open twenty-four hours a day, the restaurant’s menu is a mix of Ukrainian and typical American diner fare. More than a diner, though, Veselka is a family-friendly establishment that serves up Ukrainian "peasant" food - known to many as "Ukrainian soul food."
Shahrzad Ghajar, founder of the gift shop Spooksvilla + friends, takes curation to another level. She meets with each of the artists represented in the store and personally chooses every piece showcased on the walls and shelves.Shahrzad, herself, is a talented artist, and many of her designs are featured in the shop. By focusing on the artists, Spooksvilla ensures that everything for sale - from apparel to wall art - is one-of-a-kind. “We like to be representative of original people doing original things— be it art, products, charms or any other kind of cool item," said Ethan Velez, manager of Spooksvilla.Despite the fact that multiple artists contribute to Spooksvilla, the store is not a hodgepodge of styles. Rather, the art is united in its bold, whimsical designs. A favorite is the label on the bottle of the rose bath salts - a piece of art in itself. A woman with purple skin and purple hair rides a pink dragon, holding, of course, roses.
Serving an interesting but decadent assortment of coffees, hot cakes, desserts, Japanese tapas, sandwiches, pasta, and more, Hi-Collar functions as many things. In the morning the atmosphere is subdued and relaxed like a coffee shop, as customers come to enjoy “kissaten” – a term to describe Japanese-style coffee shops. The lady we spoke to at Hi-Collar told us their coffee selection is extensive and that there are a variety of beans to choose from. Not only is there the opportunity to select the bean varietal, but one can also choose how the coffee is made as well: pour over, aeropress, or siphon—each method drawing out a distinct flavor. For the non-coffee drinker, there are teas and even a fruit milkshake.As the afternoon wears on and evening approaches, Hi-Collar becomes a bar complete with wine, sake, and beer. Inquiring about the name, we found that Hi-Collar is in fact a term that came to be during the Japanese Jazz Age, when Western culture infiltrated Japan and many men were seen wearing Western style high collars. The only seating available is at the long bar, and the beautiful flowers and lamps that hang from the ceiling add to the allure of this multifaceted nook on 10th.