A Conversation with :
By Estella Editor - POSTED Nov 12, 2014
We are thrilled to be interviewing Grace Kang, founder and buyer of gift shop Pink Olive, one of our oldest retailers! After years as a successful buyer, Grace opened her first brick and mortar store in the East Village in 2007 and filled it with baby gifts, home decor items, and whimsical treasures that are full of style and charm. Since then, Grace has expanded Pink Olive to include two more locations and an online shop. We were lucky enough to ask Grace a few questions about running her own business, favorite places in NYC, favorite baby gifts, and foul-proof holiday presents. Enjoy!
1. You spent many years working as a buyer in women’s fashion before making the leap to a small business owner. What inspired the change?
I always knew I wanted to have my own business, it was just a matter of when. I told myself that until that day comes, I was determined to be a sponge and learn as much as I could about the retail industry. The truth is, I really loved being in the corporate world as well and never thought I would leave my job as a successful fashion buyer for Bloomingdale’s, Saks and Barney’s. As someone who excelled as a buyer in the fashion industry, it took stepping out of my comfort zone to realize my true passion: inspiring people to give and create a beautiful living. In 2007, I opened a store called Pink Olive. Not only was it the most rewarding risk I have ever taken, but it was also the most unexpected. Pink Olive is more than just an ordinary gift shop. It’s a creative place dedicated to the simple joy of gift giving.
2. What are your most and least favorite parts of being your own boss?
My favorite part of being my own boss is being able to make a difference and inspire people, even in the smallest of ways. As customers often share with us, Pink Olive is their “happy place.” I also love to share my journey on Instagram and give people a glimpse into my world. I wouldn’t say I have a least favorite part of my job; however, the most challenging part is finding the right people for your team. It’s ever-changing, and you have to be constantly looking for those “gems” who truly get what you do :)
3. You have three stores in three very distinct NYC neighborhoods, the East Village, Park Slope, and Williamsburg. Why did you choose these neighborhoods, and what do you love most about each one?
All three neighborhoods fit the clientele of our ideal customer, but in slightly different ways. They’re like having children, all similar but also distinctly different. Our East Village location appeals mostly to creatives, single ladies, aunties/uncles, newly engaged couples and tourists. Our Park Slope location appeals to creatives as well, but also many first-time families and Brooklyn locals. Our newest location in Williamsburg has a similar vibe as our East Village shop, appealing to creatives, single ladies and gents, families and tourists!
4. Pink Olive is full of whimsical items and unexpected finds. Where do discover these brands and products?
We find our products all over! Our team scours creative brands online, on blogs and social media, and through our travel adventures. Many designers approach us, but we also reach out to many brands that appeal to our shop aesthetic!
5. Similarly, are there any places in NYC (stores, restaurants, museums, parks, etc.) that you consider to be hidden gems?
I have a few favorite hidden gems in the East Village, particularly restaurants! I am such a foodie so I visit Northern Spy Food Co., Zucker Bakery and Dirt Candy frequently! So many yummy options, and luckily each restaurant is located super close to our East Village shop – perfect for when I need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up!
6. For customers who stop in looking for a special something for a newborn and toddler, what do you recommend? Does your niece have any favorite items from your store?
There are so many great designers that we work with in finding that perfect baby gift. We have many go-to designers for specific needs. We love Pink Chicken for cute toddler dresses, TANE organics & Oeuf for sophisticated baby gear and Maileg and BlaBla for whimsical baby and toddler gifts. Also, we LOVE suggesting books for any baby gift :) Your taxi and Metrocard rattles have been a huge hit as the perfect NYC baby gift, as well :) For our online customers, they can go here to pick out their perfect baby gift assortment as easy as 1-2-3.
As for my niece, she was obsessed with the bashful beige bunny from Jellycat when she was young. Now, she’s a pre-teen and lovesssss all the fun paper goods and OliveBox!
7. The holiday season is swiftly approaching – are there any new trendy items or foolproof gifts we should keep an eye out for as we begin our holiday shopping?
Our “you are loved” collection has really taken off since last year. The mugs and tote bags are hot sellers, as well as the new pumpkin and hot chocolate scented candles :) We also have curated a wonderful collection of our favorite things in our Pink Olive holiday gift guide seen here!
Thank you, Grace!
Tags Baby Gifts, Baby Rattles, Estella Hand-Knit Rattles & Toys, Hand-Knit Toys, Holiday Gifts, Soft Baby Toys
(Images via Julia Cawley)
Category Baby Gifts, Baby Rattles, Estella Hand-Knit Rattles & Toys, Hand-Knit Toys, Holiday Gifts, Soft Baby Toys
Tips + Tricks :
By Estella Editor - POSTED Nov 4, 2014
Expecting a new addition to your family sometime soon and ready to start planning? Here are some of the baby essentials you’ll want to shop for at Estella and add to your baby registry. From must-have baby clothes that your newborn will be living in, to blankets and toys, be sure to stock up on the following:
1. One-Piece Rompers & Receiving Gowns: These are some of the most practical and versatile baby clothes for new parents. Snaps between the legs simplify diaper changes and a lap-neck or buttons down the front/back ensure that dressing your little one will be quick and seamless. Plus, the cozy silhouette and soft fabrics will keep baby comfortable and happy while lounging at home or as a first layer during winter. You’ll want to stock up on our Bamboo Layette or Nature Baby Collection for kimono-style one-pieces and long-sleeve rompers in classic colors and 100% organic fabrics. If you’re looking for something with more personality, check out Beau LOves and Bobo Choses. And for ultra-luxurious and sophisticated styles: Album di Famiglia or our Baby Knits Collection. Make sure to order a variety of different sizes!
2. Booties, Hats & Mittens: Accessories to keep little hands, heads, and feet warm. Cotton hats can be worn all year long, even in the summer, and these bamboo baby mittens prevent babies from unintentionally scratching themselves.
3. Baby Blankets: Lotus Springs blankets are some of our most popular, and for good reasons: they are soft, eco-friendly, and machine-washable. These plush blankets will be a go-to for babies and parents alike, making them a practical and versatile choice. For a special, keepsake, check out our hand-knit alpaca blankets. These blankets are made in Bolivia by a Fair Trade manufacturer and sure to be treasured from infancy through adulthood.
4. Swaddles: The Aden and Anais Swaddles have a multitude of uses beyond simply keeping baby safe while sleeping, thanks to their generous size: they can double as a stroller or nursing cover, burp cloth, play blanket, and even a portable crib sheet. Plus, these pre-washed blankets are made from muslin, a breathable cotton fabric that allows baby’s body temperature to regulate itself naturally. Versatile and all-natural, these swaddles are the perfect multi-taskers for new parents.
5. For the nursery: The crib sheets, bumpers, and changing pad covers from Flink Living are made from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton and available of classic prints and elegant colors that can be mixed and matched for a complete look. Sleep sacks from Aden and Anais keep baby comfortable, safe, and snug.
6. Baby Rattles: Engage all of baby’s senses with one of these designer newborn toys. Bold colors, soft cotton, and a charming sound will both entertain and delight your baby. Unlike other mass-produced plastic or wooden baby toys on the market, these rattles are safe and feel wonderful in little hands. Plus, the humorous shapes will amuse parents.
7. Keepsakes: Don’t we all have those special toys or accessories that have stayed with us since we were a newborn? Baby keepsakes will be treasured from day one all the way through adulthood. Whether it’s an engraved sterling silver rattle or accessory from Salisbury or Areaware, a hand-made Jess Brown doll, or piece of nursery decor from Boramiri, these toys and accessories are one-of-a-kind items that will remain with baby and become even more special as he or she grows up.
Tags Areaware, Baby & Nursery Decor, Baby Blankets, Baby Booties & Shoes, Baby Hats, Baby One-Pieces & Rompers, Baby Rattles, Baby Swaddlers, Designer Baby Clothes, Estella Hand-Knit Rattles & Toys, Harmony Ball Company, Jess Brown Dolls, Organic Baby Clothing, Organic Bamboo Baby Clothing, Soft Baby Toys
Category Areaware, Baby & Nursery Decor, Baby Blankets, Baby Booties & Shoes, Baby Hats, Baby One-Pieces & Rompers, Baby Rattles, Baby Swaddlers, Designer Baby Clothes, Estella Hand-Knit Rattles & Toys, Harmony Ball Company, Jess Brown Dolls, Organic Baby Clothing, Organic Bamboo Baby Clothing, Soft Baby Toys
By Estella Editor - POSTED Oct 23, 2014
Good news! We are giving away 10 of our Estella hand-knit baby rattles! Soft, high-quality, and hand-made, these baby toys are full of character and a wonderful alternative to the mass-produced plastic or hard-edged baby rattles on the market. The bold colors, lovely rattle sound, and unique shapes will keep baby engaged and entertained, while the humorous shapes and styles (like the purse, Metrocard, or mustache) will amuse parents. We’ve also just introduced three new shapes to our collection of knit designer baby toys: the pretzel, American flag, and bunny rattles. The perfect baby shower gift, keepsake, or addition to baby’s nursery, these soft baby rattles are unique and charming must have for babies and new parents! Enter to win here.
Tags Baby Rattles, Eco-Friendly Toys, Estella Hand-Knit Rattles & Toys, Kids' Accessories & Toys
Category Baby Rattles, Eco-Friendly Toys, Estella Hand-Knit Rattles & Toys, Kids' Accessories & Toys
A Conversation With :
By Estella Editor - POSTED Sep 23, 2014
After our photo shoot a few weeks ago for our new collection of baby toys, we had the chance to chat with our photographer, Luciana Golcman. Read more below on her background in photography, tips for shooting pictures of little ones, & favorite places in NYC to view art!
1. Tell us a little bit about your background & what drew you to family, children, & newborn photography.
I’ve always been the one with the camera in my hands. Not only on trips or events, but even when there were no digital cameras I was already making “film selfies” with my friends on our nights in! When a stranger would ask me to take their photo I’d put so much effort into framing it well, having the subject well lit, and so on. I guess it’s just something within me. As for why I chose to photograph what I do, I absolutely LOVE children and the innocence in their eyes. Grownups can be shallow, mean, fake, but kids just can’t! They are themselves 100% of the time. And that’s what I love about it. So I started with kids and from then I branched to newborns, because, come on. Who doesn’t love a baby? Then my clients ended up asking me to photograph the whole family and their bumps. So this way I ended up filling all those gaps in motherhood and photographing bumps to families.
2. Did you go to school for photography?
I actually went to school for “Social Communications,” which is just a fancy name for advertising. In Brazil it’s very different and you don’t have a major and a minor. You simply have a career – so mine was advertising. In school I had many photography classes but definitely not enough, so after I moved to NYC (about 8 years ago) I started taking classes at ICP (International Center of Photography). I never did a full term program but I’ve taken about a dozen Continuing Education Classes both as a student and as a Teaching Assistant. And I don’t plan to ever stop learning.
3. How would you describe your shooting style?
What I look for when I’m shooting is to reveal a person’s soul through an image. I don’t like posing it’s fake. I love natural. When I have a session with kids, for example, I have them have a fun playdate with me and their family, and I stay “backstage” waiting for the wow moments. And as we’ve all heard before, “The eyes are the windows to the soul, ” so I’m insanely intrigued with the eye and how they sparkle when we’re happy. Or how it shines when it’s teary. It’s all connected.
4. ISO, shutter speed, aperture – help! How can a beginner get the most out of a point-and-shoot or DRSL camera?
ISO, shutter speed and aperture are the exposure triangle. When you change one you have to compensate with the other(s). It’s like a seesaw. If the one side is heavier than the other, it’s going to tilt. So all you have to do is balance it out.
My advice for those wanting to learn how to shoot manually is to try to understand one by one first. Start with the “aperture priority” mode. See what happens when you drastically change the aperture. Then move to the shutter priority mode. And finally join them together to add the ISO factor.
5. Are there optimal places or times of day to shoot? Any tips on how to get the best lighting?
All photographers talk about the “golden hour,” which is that short time right before sunset or right after sunrise. At this time the light is much softer and the shadows are not as hard. So it definitely looks much more flattering on your subject. Midday light is the harshest one, but there are always ways to work around it. After all, the best time to shoot is always NOW.
6. What are your top three tips for taking pictures of babies & young toddlers?
Patience, patience, patience. LOL.
7. Any particularly memorable moments or laugh-out-loud stories from your shoots with little ones?
Every shoot is has a memorable moment. I laugh so much every time. I’m not sure who is having more fun: the kids or myself!
8. When it comes to kids, attention spans can wane quickly – do you have a tips for keeping them engaged or tricks to get real smiles out of them when they’re not in the mood?
When they are really not feeling it, the worst thing you can do is force them. They are supposed to have fun, not be a perfect professional model. That’s why I always ask the parents to pack water, juices, snacks, and toys. If they are not feeling it we have a break, play, rest, and wait for them to feel better. The one thing that never fails, though, are bubbles. They just love them!
9. You live in New York – do you have any favorite spots to take pictures?
My “public” studio, definitely (and by that I mean Central Park). It’s amazing how many different backgrounds you can get in Central Park! And because I usually blur the background to focus on the eyes, all I look for are backlit trees or anything else that would look beautiful blurred.
10. How about favorite places to view art in the city?
That’s a very difficult question. NYC is a Mecca of art. I love visiting the small galleries in Chelsea and Soho. And I’m extremely bummed that “Yellow Korner” (a great affordable photography shop) closed last year. New Yorkers deserve more places like Yellow Korner!
11. Your talent speaks for itself through your photos. Is there anything you don’t do well that you wish you could?
Thank you very much :) We are always our worse critics. Every day I think to myself “I don’t do anything well! I still have so much to learn!” But if I should pick one thing I would say I can always learn more about light. Photography is all about painting with light, and the more you learn the more you see that it can change the way you look at the world.
Tags Baby Photography, Baby Rattles, Estella Hand-Knit Rattles & Toys, Hand-Knit Toys
Category Baby Photography, Baby Rattles, Estella Hand-Knit Rattles & Toys, Hand-Knit Toys