In the past few years, we've spent countless days in our favorite east coast city, New York! The big city is filled with endless rows of beautiful boutiques. Always standing out from the crowd is our first ever Manhattan partner, an adorable shop called Pink Olive in the East Village! Since working with Pink Olive, we have witnessed their amazing growth: including three brick and mortar locations (East Village, Park Slope and Williamsburg), an online shop and also a monthly subscription service for paper lovers. Grace, the owner, is a master curator of whimsical gifts with a keen business sense. We were lucky enough to catch her and pick her brain about running a retail business and learn more about what inspires her.
Talk to us about how you started your shop and what was the aesthetic you were aiming to have!
I’ve been a stationery lover as long as I can remember. I spent my toddler years in Korea, which is notorious for their paper goods and little stationery shops. Finding and collecting perfect stationery with my little allowance was something I looked forward to every weekend.
I always knew I’d have a store of my own, so after I graduated from college I was determined to learn as much as possible. So after over a decade working as a buyer for companies such as Bloomingdales, Saks.com and Barney’s, I decided it was time to open my own retail business.
Right around this time, I also became an auntie to my adorable niece Katie. I felt overwhelmed going into a mass children’s store, and wanted to walk into a place where I felt inspired to give and find something unique and creative for my niece … and maybe find something for myself.
I opened my first brick-and-mortar store in the East Village in 2007, followed by my second location in Park Slope in March 2008 and the latest location in Williamsburg in April 2014. Each boutique caters to the stylish aunties of the world and all creative types, with an aesthetic emphasis on whimsy and great design.
What are some things you look for when you are shopping for products to sell?
Our team scours creative brands online, on blogs and social media, and through our travel adventures. Many designers approach us, but we also reach out to many brands that appeal to our shop aesthetic. We’re always looking for products with unique, eye-catching design, as well as an understanding of packaging and price. But most importantly, I love doing business with people I like. At the end of the day, there are thousands of lines and products on the market. I want to do business with people I enjoy and can grow our businesses together.
What are your favorite things about running the store?
As customers often share with us, PinkOlive is their “happy place.” Life is all about celebrating the little things, and I love sharing that celebratory vision with all of our visitors! We actually just launched a new Instagram campaign to encourage our customers to add a #dailydoseofwhimsy to their typical routine – that’s the sort of joy I hope to inspire in as many people as possible.
What is your favorite piece from the new Kira Kids SS15 collection?
My favorite piece is this strawberry dress! Funnily enough, it reminds me of an adorable strawberry-shaped bag that my father gave me as a kindergarten graduation gift. He always brought back fun presents when he returned from business trips and was such a great gifter in general. He will forever remain a big inspiration behind PinkOlive’s manifesto: that a whimsical gift can really make someone smile and make them feel loved.
Lastly, what is your ideal summer vacation? Since Kira Kids is all about vacationing this season!
Since I'm a summer baby, my ideal summer vacation is anything by the water. Whether it's taking a brief staycation by the Williamsburg waterfront or traveling to the Hudson Valley or flying to the Caribbean, I find those sorts of settings so relaxing and inspiring. And of course, good coffee and food always help, too!