1. Where are you from, and what brought you to Clinton Hill?
I was born In Greece and was able to come to New York through a scholarship for graduate studies. and received my M.F.A in painting from the City University of New York.
I met my husband 12 years ago, fell in love and made New York my home. When we decided to have kids we moved to Clinton Hill from Williamsburg in search of a bigger more affordable kid friendly place.
2. What's changed the most since you first moved to the neighborhood?
The neighborhood is more self-sustained with a number of new businesses and services moving in the area. There is a lot of construction and the real estate prices have gone enormously up. Hopefully the streets will be able to keep a neighborhood feeling. My family and I live in the Clinton Hill Coops. We really enjoy it and we have great views from our windows. We would love to move in a space with a back yard sometime in the near future.
3. What inspired you to start your own business? Tell us about Brooklyn Junior!
With an art background that favors bright colors and bold shapes, a high astigmatism from birth and an often explosive temperament exaggerated by the big bellies of two pregnancies, I could not stand another light pink and pastel blue baby product. Frustration gave way to inspiration and Brooklyn Junior was born, which offers mostly limited edition baby clothes and accessories. Its new line shows a fresh and colorful touch. Brooklyn Junior, an urban-inspired children’s clothing company, explodes on the scene with its vibrant, baby-soft cotton children’s apparel. The funky tees, colorful kimonos, and onesies can be found online at www.BrooklynJunior.com, and on Sundays at the Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene (http://brownstoner.com/brooklynflea/) 4. Where did you learn to sew?
My mother always made my clothes as I was growing up. I didn’t appreciate it much then but nevertheless I was the best dressed amongst my friends. As I grew up I realized how lucky I was to be dressed so well in a fraction of the cost so I decided that I would give it a try myself. My mother in law gave me her antique sewing machine. I made my first skirt without a pattern and it looked great. Beginner’s luck, the second one didn’t fit as well. I subscribed to Burda magazine and the rest is history.
When I first started Brooklyn Junior my mom flew from Greece to help and we made about 50 baby kimonos in our home sewing machine. Now I have them manufactured here in Brooklyn, in Bushwick. So yes our kimonos are made in Brooklyn.
5. You can often be found selling at the Brooklyn Flea. How has your experience been so far?
Brooklyn Junior is at the Brooklyn Flea every Sunday since April 6th. The Flea has been one of the best things that happened to Brooklyn Junior. We get a lot of exposure and have many fans. It is great to see the neighborhood kids wearing our stuff. The extra money that we make every Sunday helps us stay in business and getting more of our designs in production. We got wholesale requests from as far as Japan. The Brooklyn Flea has been an amazing experience for our two children as well. It is a struggle to set up our booth on Sunday mornings, loading and unloading the van and dropping off/picking up the kids from soccer practice at the same time. But once all this is done the whole family gets together at the flea and our time together there has been wonderful. We interact with so many people and have learned a lot about our business from them. The kids have been very involved in the business and my son is a heavy-duty salesman.
6. How is it raising children in Clinton Hill? What does it offer that other neighborhoods don't?
Our neighborhood is a great place to live, spacious, clean, with parks and playgrounds but most importantly a sense of community and warmth. You can walk down the street and be greeted from so many people and I always see someone I know. My son is attending our district’s Community Roots charter school that is really amazing. We couldn’t have asked for anything more. We have great neighbors and feel safe and welcomed. I have only lived in Williamsburg before we moved in Clinton Hill. I liked it as well, it has its own flair. I don’t know what Clinton Hill offers that other neighborhoods don’t, every place has it own uniqueness that one has to experience in order to comment on it and I haven’t.
7. Do you have any advice for people looking to start their own business?
Yes, my advice is to go into business doing something that you really enjoy and believe in. Good planning and preparation are also important but eventually it is the level of enthusiasm and perseverance that will keep you in business the first years.
8. What's your favorite restaurant in the neighborhood?
We rarely eat out. Our favorite restaurant is “Nadia’s kitchen” fresh homemade Modern Greek cuisine created by me. We really liked Liquors but unfortunately it closed down. The kids love Grazziella’s and I personally think that Luigi’s on Dekalb has a super duper slice of pizza. We had very nice meals at ICI and Lulu’s. I would like to see a restaurant with a simple, fresh, seasonal menu, maybe there is one in the neighborhood already? Let me know.
9. What would you like to see open up here?
A bakery. Being raised in a small Greek town I miss the flavor of fresh baked bread with my tomato salad.
10. If you were a flavor of ice cream, what would you be and why?
Coconut with roasted almonds. Exotic and crunchy.
Learn more about Brooklyn Junior here!