Erica and Claire are the founders of Of a Kind, a cool-girl e-boutique that releases limited edition, custom made pieces by emerging designers and artists.
The ridiculously long list of designers reads like a who’s who of the modern creative set, many of them designers I know and adore, like Aili, A Peace Treaty, Apolis, Baggu, Claire Vivier, Cold Picnic, Collina Strada, Dirty Librarian Chains, Dusen Dusen, Erica Weiner, In God We Trust, K/ller Collection, Kordal, Proud Mary… clearly I’m just going down in alphabetical order and I need to stop. But you get the point.
Plus, Claire and Erica have a dope podcast and newsletter stuffed with fun finds that I assiduously read every week, not only because they share really cool ideas, things, services, and stuff, but also because reading it feels like I’m hanging out with them in their studio like friends.
I knew their answers to my questions would be just as charming, real, and hilarious, so I asked them to participate in my How I’m Livin’ series. Read on for their favorite bars, places to shop, designers, and beauty products.
What neighborhood do you live in?
Erica: Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
Claire: DUMBO, Brooklyn. I go running almost daily and I still can’t believe how lucky I am to get to do it along the riverfront there. The views are ridiculous.
Describe your style.
E: Too many neutrals—hopefully with a cool accessory or two that compensates for that.
C: Prints and pants—big into ‘em both! Sometimes printed pants, even.
What’s your favorite NYC restaurant?
E: I go to Tilda All Day in Clinton Hill with my husband once a week, and everything on the menu is so freaking good that today I was enticed to order a salad at 8:30 a.m. And it was so, so weirdly fulfilling.
C: I’ll always have a real soft spot for Gramercy Tavern. It’s a total classic and it’s where my parents like to go to celebrate happy things. It doesn’t hurt that I’m also a total Danny Meyer fangirl—his book Setting the Table is one of my all-time favorite business reads. It’s relevant no matter what industry you work in.
Your fave bar?
E: The lobby at the Smyth Hotel in Tribeca—there are free snacks if you just ask for them.
C: Blondie’s, a totally unremarkable and a little bit grimy sports bar on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that serves some of the best buffalo wings in the city. My husband and I celebrate Valentine’s Day there every year—never hard to get a table on that holiday, shockingly.
Describe your perfect Sunday.
E: It would involve spring or fall weather and playing tennis and reading on the couch and making an early dinner, maybe while drinking a negroni or some other easy-but-still-impressive-feeling cocktail, even.
C: A jog back and forth to The Bar Method Brooklyn studio (I can never quite make it during the week), followed by a nap, and ending with a home-cooked meal with my husband. Exciting stuff, I know.
What’s your favorite place to shop in the city?
E: I’ve really been loving French Garment Cleaners in Fort Greene. It’s just far enough from my apartment to make for a nice walk, too.
C: I don’t know why, but I get such a kick out of shopping for my husband… maybe because we both get to enjoy the end result? Modern Anthology has a rock solid selection of beautifully made, classic men’s stuff, with just enough surprises to keep it interesting.
Where do you do your grocery shopping in the city?
E: Oh, I’m so glad you asked. I’m full-blown obsessed with Mr. Melon in Clinton Hill. It’s a super-powered, family-owned bodega with a serious (and seriously cheap) produce section. Plus, its sister stores are Mr. Kiwi, Mr. Coco, and Mr. Piña—you can’t beat that.
C: There are only three spots in my neighborhood and you typically have to visit all of them to finish an ingredient list for one meal, sadly. I used to live on the Upper West Side, which was a grocery lover’s dream and I still stop in Zabar’s every time I’m nearby—their anchovy stuffed olives are the saltiest and the best.
Do you vintage shop? Where do you go?
E: I aspire to—does that count?
C: Does TheRealReal count? It’s more secondhand/consignment than vintage but I find such good stuff there—and also make a decent chunk of change from selling my old clothes with them.
What’s your favorite non-toxic beauty product?
E: If you never thought you could have strong, loving feelings about a deodorant, then you haven’t tried Soapwalla’s.
C: My go-to bold red lip is Wild Child by ILIA. It’s one of those magical shades that looks good on everyone.
What is your favorite designer or label?
E: This it too hard! I have been wearing this One Six Five cuff—made with recycled gold—like crazy, though.
C: Oof, impossible to pick just one, but I keep coming back to Wolfum for home goods again and again. Annabel, the designer, has a really unique method for printing her incredible patterns onto wood objects. And, she sticks to materials you can feel good about—FSC-certified wood, recycled polyester, and organic cotton twill.
You have one day to get out of the city; where do you go?
E: Hunter Mountain for a little skiing! I got ski boots for my bday, and I’m trying to break ‘em in, despite the negative feedback from my shins.
C: Home to visit my parents in Wilmington, Delaware—but I’ll stop in Philly for a prosciutto hoagie at Salumeria on the way there.
How has living sustainably changed your life for the better?
E: Well, I don’t know that I’d claim that I live sustainably fully or anything, but I think I’ve gotten much, much better about being hardcore about the things I buy and bring into my home—from clothes to skincare stuff to cookbooks. If they’re not A++, they don’t get to stay—or gain entry in the first place!
C: Fewer, better things—I’m constantly trying to de-clutter my space (and my life!) and changing the way I think about consumption has made it much, much easier.
What’s the sustainable habit you’re most proud of?
E: I make my own citrus and vinegar all-purpose cleaner—hair flip.
C: I’ve been using rags a lot more aggressively lately—I am lucky enough to have a washer and dryer in my apartment, so I really have no excuse not to—and it has helped me cut down on what was previously a very excessive paper towel habit. Editor’s note: me too!
What’s your biggest, unsustainable, bad habit?
E: Paper towel use. I’ve gotten better, ok?
C: I am extremely reliant on my Nespresso coffee maker, and the waste involved in the pods is pretty cringe-worthy. But, but! They launched a super easy recycling program a few years ago: You just pop the used pods in a pre-addressed, pre-paid UPS envelope and ship ‘em off to be recycled. It makes me feel a bit better about it all.
What do you find most challenging about living sustainably?
E: I wish donating clothes and books was an easier proposition in NYC! So much lugging and shoulder pain involved.
C: E-commerce, honestly. I rely on it for so many things (um, including my livelihood!) but packaging does produce a lot of waste. To say nothing of the impact of shipping stuff all over the world…
Do you try to convince your friends to live more sustainably? How?
E: I talk about natural beauty stuff too much, probably. So I’m either convincing them or driving them completely nuts.
C: I think pretty much everyone in my life knows my feelings on fast fashion and – among its many flaws – how bad it is for the environment.