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How People of 2Morrow Made Buy-Sell-Trade Exciting Again

Photo: <a href="http://drielys.com">Driely S.</a> for Racked
Photo: Driely S. for Racked

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North Brooklyn has no shortage of consignment shops—walk a few minutes in any direction and you'll eventually find yourself in front of a Buffalo Exchange or a Crossroads Trading Post. But Greenpoint's People of 2Morrow is a different kind of buy-sell-trade destination—peaceful (there's always a stick of incense going), organized (items are neatly arranged by color and style), and with a distinctly global bent (textiles from Afghanistan and Kenyan brass bracelets share shelf space with vintage Oscar de la Renta). We caught up with married co-owners Sybil Domond and Daniel Lessin (she a florist and interior designer, he the owner of Afro-Brazilian nightclub Bembe) to talk about their store's new-meets-resale mix, the space's past life as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles set, and People of 2Morrow's soon-to-launch in-house line.

Tell us about your background!

Sybil: Prior to opening the store I was a florist and a full-time mom, but before having my daughter I worked in the fashion industry for 15 years. I worked with OP, which made board shorts, Betsey Johnson, Jordache, and Coach.

Wow. What were your roles at these labels? Were you a designer?

Sybil: I did product development. I'd go out and get the samples made, sit in on fittings, oversee the cost of production, and work with factories overseas.

Did you always want to work in fashion?

Sybil: Yes, from a very early age I always had a different aesthetic. I love the upcycling of clothes, I've been shopping at Salvation Armies and flea markets for as long as I can remember. When I met my husband we realized it was a lifestyle we could market as a business.

This space is amazing! How did you find it?

Dan: We looked for a year and a half. We knew we needed a big space, and then when we saw this—with the light and the height—that was it. We had just come back from a buying trip in L.A. and we were just so motivated, we pushed for it.

Sybil: We spoke to the landlord and told him the concept. He said he didn't want any food, and this would have been an amazing restaurant. So when he told us that we thought, "oh my god, this could actually happen." We showed him photos of our brownstone we renovated in Greenpoint, so he could get a sense of the concept. All the work you see—the murals in the fitting rooms, the birch boughs in the fitting rooms—my husband did all of it.

What was here before you moved in?

Sybil: This store and all the stores in the building used be an 8,000 square foot warehouse. It was very dirty and industrial. They'd do photo shoots and movies here. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was filmed here.

How did you land on the combination of new and consignment?

Sybil: Being in the fashion industry and seeing how much clothing cost—silk, wool, cashmere—I was like, "I'll never be able to afford this." So I started thrifting and got hooked. I'd buy secondhand furniture for my home and people would come over and be like, "Where did you get this?"

Dan: I've been thrifting my whole life, but I never took it to a fashion level. For me, it was survival. But Sybil really curated it.

Sybil: It was a market that I was fascinated with. I wanted the store to have a global, worldly dynamic. We brought in more textiles, introduced home goods—which I had never seen in buy-sell-trade stores before—and added a children's section. Being a mom, I thought it would be great to have one place where I could shop for myself and my daughter.

It makes a lot of sense to do kids' resale, since they grow out of things so quickly.

Sybil: Exactly. I've been doing it since my daughter was a baby. She has the most amazing wardrobe, and it's all secondhand.

Dan: We really wanted to take it up a notch from what we had seen, with a tightly edited selection of pieces you're not going to find at other places.

Sybil: And we try to keep it affordable. We're really conscious of that. I really see three different dynamics in the store: there's the buy-sell-trade, where you really get to meet your neighbors and it's communal; I buy jewelry, apothecary items, and ceramics from local designers; and we also buy fair trade from international organizations, for instance we have these brass bangles made by women in Kenya. It's a more conscious way of shopping, and the name really speaks to that.

What was your opening day like? Were you nervous?

Sybil: I was really excited. My husband and I had seven years to renovate our brownstone and one month to build this space out. We got our keys on October 1st and opened on November 1st.

Did you just not sleep?

Sybil: We basically lived here for two weeks. I really saw something within myself and my husband and another friend of ours who helped us. When you're so driven to finish something you just won't stop until it gets done. Literally, an hour before we opened we were ripping the papers off the windows. Dan was installing speakers as people were walking in.

There's nothing like this in the neighborhood.

Sybil: There's nothing like this in New York. And that's not being cocky, I just haven't seen it done like this.

Dan: There's nothing like this in the country.

Sybil: We travel pretty often, just because it gets a little stagnant in New York and it's great to see what other people are doing, and I haven't come across a store like ours. Which is why we opened it.

Who is the People of 2Morrow woman?

Dan: The age bracket is all over the place.

Sybil: It's definitely all over the place, because we have the stuff for kids. If something comes in that's a little too small for women, we'll take it in for a teenager and put it in the kids' section. I'd say anywhere from 17 to 65. I see so many people come in here excited about the hunt, excited to find something. Sometimes I'll go up to the second floor on a busy Saturday to get an aerial view, and I'll see so many different ages. It's really a beautiful thing.

Dan: We wanted this to be a pleasurable, easy experience. You don't have to dig through the racks for an hour to find something. You can walk in and very quickly find a beautiful piece.

Sybil: And not break a sweat!

You have a great vintage selection. What's your favorite decade, fashion-wise?

Sybil: The '70s to the early '80s. I really love high-waisted jeans, peasant dresses, and plunging necklines.

Which items do really well for you? What can't you keep in stock?

Sybil: Candles and jewelry, definitely. We also do really well with Inca USA incense, we burn it in the store and people will come in asking what that scent is. Of course, beautiful vintage pieces don't last for long. Everything in our apothecary section is organic and made in New York, and all of those products have taken off.

Are there any new lines you're excited to carry?

Sybil: Cave Collective. They did the installation that's hanging from the ceiling—I saw a similar one they made for the Ace Hotel and had to have one for the store. With the high ceilings, I thought it would be incredible. We sell their jewelry, I'm so excited to have them.

Saint Alma does hand-dyed bedding, Turkish towels, and silk scarves. That's why we have a bed in the store now—I saw the bedding and thought it would be huge. I love her textiles so much that I had her make the curtains for our fitting room.

Your Instagram has really taken off.

Sybil: The fact that we do street style and we give tips on how to style the items in our store really makes a difference. Sometimes, people will look at a piece and think "I could never pull that off," but once you show them how to incorporate it into a look they realize that they can.

Our customers can call and request to be put on file, so that they can purchase items through Instagram. Then they just have to comment with "It's a wrap!" on the photo—we'll wrap up the item and send it to them.

What's next for People of 2Morrow?

Sybil: People think we're just a vintage store, but we're actually picking up some clothing labels. It'll be interesting to see how it merchandises with the rest of the store. We'll be carrying Nina Z. clogs, Mara Hoffman swimwear, and Made of Dreams—she's a designer out of L.A. who does hand-dyed caftans and scarves.

Dan: We're also working on a private label.

Sybil: We're hoping to launch in the spring, and we'll have our own bedding and jewelry.

Time for the lightning round!

8am or 8pm?

Sybil: 8am
Dan: 8pm. That's how it all works, though—the store, the bar, the kid, the dog. We split it up.

Beer or wine?

Sybil: Wine

Whiskey or tequila?

Both: Tequila

Cats or dogs?

Sybil: Can I say both? Both!

Beach or mountains?

Both: Beach

Favorite neighborhood breakfast spot?

Dan: Egg

Favorite neighborhood happy hour spot?

Both: Bembe

Bagels or croissants?

Sybil: Croissants

Mad Men or Game of Thrones?

Sybil: Mad Men! He's Game of Thrones, I'm Mad Men.
Dan: Not even in the running. Game of Thrones.

· People of 2Morrow [Official Site]
· Better Know a Store Owner [Racked NY]