Olivia Wolfe and Steph Krasnoff, owners of the newly opened clothing boutique/coffee shop, American Two Shot, are living somewhat of an "American" Dream. The girls, who grew up together in Miami as middle school and high school classmates, moved to New York in 2007. It was a seamless move for both girls, who had the comfort of family in the area.Upon high school graduation Steph went to Michigan receiving a degree in Psychology and Olivia majored in Studio Art at Georgetown. Once in New York, the girls reconnected in a big way. Steph was working at Theory in financial planning when the idea to open up their own store hatched. "I will never forget this time we were in an elevator heading out with friends," Olivia said, "we were all wearing things our friends had made and we collectively agreed, 'Let's open up a store with our friends stuff!'" This joke became a reality for the girls pretty quickly!Now, whether it is their friend Sabrina's collection of vintage pieces or head turbans by their friend Jasmine, this shop serves as a hub of all things cool and a stomping ground for local designers. As far as their product assortment Steph noted, "Some people were our friends and we started carrying their things and other people we started carrying their things and, well...they became our friends." The two mentioned they have a personal relationship with almost every brand they carry. "That's how New York is," Olivia said, "It starts with a couple friends and it snowballs and soon you have people introducing you to other people that open all sorts of doors for new partnerships."As usual, my interviews with people who have moved to New York City most often catapult into a conversation about New York's prevalence in the their success. I was curious, however, if a location in New York is advantageous or disadvantageous for retail newcomers based on the extreme level of competition on every corner. Steph addressed my concern by explaining their unique point of view. "Our friend Sabrina came up with this phrase, 'Cute, Witty, Sexy'--too much of any of these is overwhelming but we love the combination of all three." Olivia mentioned that although the retail industry would not crumble without them, they offer something different. Whether exclusive product from designers like Khoi Le (who I featured here), or a tasty hot or iced beverage from their coffee guru Cesar of, Cafe Integral,(who personally sources and roasts delicious and high grade Nicaraguan coffee), American Two Shot carries product you wont find elsewhere. As Steph so perfectly articulated about the New York customer, "New Yorkers like what they like, but they love something new."I had to ask the girls, who play the role of buyer, sales person, owner, intern, housekeeping, etc., what their favorite part of the job is--besides working for themselves. Steph responded, "All the people we have met. People are already coming to us for advice--it's crazy!" For Olivia, it's the dynamic environment she enjoys most, "There are so many creative outlets to do different things from merchandising to window displays and event planning--I feel like I am always making something new."For both Olivia and Steph seeing the once simple idea of opening a boutique (hatching in April of 2011) come to life with an ideal downtown location in SoHo and a build-out, which completed in January 2012, is surreal. "So many people are living in New York with dreams of making it happen but it doesn't just happen...you have to step out of your comfort zone and take a risk." The girls worked hard and are, rightfully, proud of what they have created. Steph said, "We don't know if we did it right and we don't know if we did it wrong, we just did it how we wanted to do it."What's next for the duo? They have thought about their own label (as Olivia said, "We don't have a design background but we also didn't have a background in opening up a store!") but for now they are going to continue doing what they are doing. They are always having great events and getting new product in and find social media extremely effective in spreading the word. Personally, I am a huge fan of their Instagram. They, along with Cesar who runs Cafe Integral, have created a place exactly like what they had expected--a place where people come in, grab a coffee, shop, and hang out.Upon the ending of our interview, I had to ask the girls how long they see themselves living in the city. Neither of them could give an answer. Instead they humorously responded, "We don't know what is going to happen tomorrow but we are definitely here for the duration of our lease!" Since chatting with the girls I have made frequent stops in to American Two Shot to say hi and grab an iced coffee. I even picked out two of my favorite pieces from the store recently and photographed with them. I fell in love with this romper as well as this head turban byCult Gaia. You can find both at American Two Shot at 135 Grand St. on the corner of Crosby.
All photographs of me are courtesy of Alex Mouganis Photography. All other photos were taken by yours truly.