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March 05

Tales of Retail: American Two Shot

By Ella Miista
American Two Shot is where New York City's coolest kids shop. And drink coffee. And discover new art. And just hang out. What I'm trying to say is that ATS isn't just a shop. Sure, it's there if you want to upgrade your wardrobe or shoe game, nurse your need for jewellery, accessories or send clever postcards to that witty friend of yours. But Steph and Olivia, the two girls behind the boutique have goals bigger than being trendy. ATS is there to inspire their customers, and to offer a fun place to hang out. Though I can't see why you wouldn't want to bag some Miista SS15 from their shop, you could just as well go there for a nice cuppa or to discover a new artist they might have on the shop walls. We sat down with Olivia, one half behind ATS, to talk shop life. Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 16.14.15 Job role: Owner Style icon: Tanner, Steph, Sabrina, Molly, Mom, Moga Guilty pleasure: Gossip Girl Favourite blog: I just love digging deep on tumblr. Morning coffee: I the summer it’s the “Olivia” at Cafe Integral, which is almond milk, expresso, cinnamon, date sugar and ice, and in the winter it’s an almond au lait, also at Cafe Integral. I have a coffee named after me at my favourite coffee spot in NYC so I guess I'm really living the dream, huh? Song stuck in your head: Staple in your wardrobe: A denim button-down shirt What were you doing before American Two Shot? Before American Two Shot, I was a working artist and also a studio assistant for other artists (mostly painters, like me). I also worked in film production, but realised after a few amazing gigs that the lifestyle wasn’t for me. How did the two of you meet and how did the store come to be? Steph and I grew up together in Miami! We met in 7th grade. She was working in fashion (doing financial planning at Theory) and one day the idea just came to us. Not sure if it had been brewing or if it just snuck up on us, but all of a sudden we realised that a place like American Two Shot didn’t exist, and that we wished it did. Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 15.34.02 It’s going to be your three year anniversary soon. What have the highs and lows of running your own business? Crash courses and the things you’ve been particularly proud of? Three year anniversary!! Time has flown, and yet I can’t even remember life before Two Shot. The high of running your own business is that you get to call the shots, and watch something that was once just an idea turn into this concrete thing that you can share with other people. The low is that it’s SCARY! When something goes wrong, it’s all on you. The first time it rained really hard, the store started flooding and I sort of looked around like, “hey is someone gonna fix this?” When you’re the owner, you ARE the one that fixes things, literally and figuratively. I’m really very proud of the store, but there’s not one thing that stands out. It’s just a product of all of these moving pieces. I’m proud of Steph, and myself, and all of our employees, and everyone who has been a part of it and supported it. I am proud of CLOTHES, which is our in-house line, because we are making our ideas come to life again, and doing it in a way that we know to be environmentally friendly and humane. I’m listening to Thom Yorke as I write this, so apologies if I am a little sappy. But whatever! I’m proud! Get off me! When it comes to buying, what ticks the this-will-cause-a-roadblock-and-sell-out-in-a-week box for you? The buying rule of thumb is that if Steph and I both love it, we buy it! That said, we like to take chances and see what happens. And there’s no magic equation for us. Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 15.59.19 What are your best selling brands and products? People love coming to us for things that they don’t see everywhere else, so exclusives always do well. Khoi Le is an amazing accessories designer and we always do special collaborations just for ATS (think mini suede backpack in lavender!) Of course a great shop isn’t just about the products you sell. What other kinda things do you focus on to make sure people keep coming back to the store? We want people to have a fun, unique experience in the store. That means finding something different, meeting someone new, or just feeling pretty damn good when you walk out the door. We always mix up the way the store looks so that it’ll feel fresh every time you come in. And of course music is a big part of coming into Two Shot. It’s a mixed bag, depending on who’s on the floor that day, so you may hear anything from Coltrane to Britney Spears to Juicy J. We like to mix it up (or not, like when we played Drake’s last album on repeat for 3 months straight. Not even sorry about it). Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 16.12.35 Everyone mentions how friendly your staff is. How do you find the best people and what makes them stay? Oh I love to hear that! I can’t tell you how boring it is for me to walk into a store and not be greeted warmly, or at all, by someone that works there. It’s like, "give me a break". We are very picky about who we hire, because unless it’s the perfect fit, it just won’t work. Krickie, our manager and number one homegirl, started working for us about 4 months after we opened, and she’s been so vital to American Two Shot and it’s growth. We don’t ever really hire for specific positions, but we are more interested in hiring people who have lots of interests and can sort of settle into their place within the company. Leslie has been at ATS for almost one year, and while she started in sales, she now does most of the visual merchandising and fantastical window displays for the store. As for how they stay? You’d have to ask them! If they’re happy, we are happy, and vice versa. How close knit is the team? Do you have traditions and fun things you get up to together? The team is very close. I like to think we have a good amount of fun all day long, but we try and carve out time to have dinner outside of the store. A little extracurricular fun :) Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 15.38.02 The store has a good mix of things available, from high street to steeper prices, and you cater for both guys and gals. What’s the common denominator to an American Two Shot customer? I think the common denominator to an American Two Shot customer is an open mind and a sense of humour. Neither of those is specific to age nor gender, and both are integral in good taste (I think!) Your Tumblr is called the City of Friends. What’s the idea behind that? City of Friends - we started putting up pictures before we’d even opened the store. It was like keeping a diary of our experience of opening a store and all the people we met and places we went. We started calling downtown New York the “City of Friends” because it really felt like that, and continues to feel like it. We are a neighborhood store and we see the same familiar faces all the time, but we also love to get to know new faces whenever they walk in the door. City of Friends describes all of the people in this ever growing community of creators and artists and writers and musicians, and all of the people who love to share in this. Steph said it so well right before we opened when she said “we want to inspire people to continue to inspire us” and I’ve always kept that with me. Creativity and inspiration can pop up anywhere if you let it. So we just wanna let it! Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 16.10.02 Check out their website and Instagram. If you're in NY, they are at 135 Grand Street, between Crosby and Lafayette. Featured photo by Jen Steele of Girls I Know.
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