August 01, 2019

Fancy Troubles Pop Up NYC

By Gabrielle Saifi
Fancy Troubles Pop Up NYC

It’s hard to describe this feeling I’ve been having. Something between a relative boredom and a deep sense of relief. As some of you may know, recently my amazing team and I ran a Fancy Troubles pop up shop in the Nolita neighborhood of Manhattan. It’s true what they say, New York never sleeps, and for the weeks I was there neither did I. After leaving NYC I think I slept for basically three days straight, and when I woke up on the fourth I missed the fast paced energy wrapped around every corner of Manhattan. 

I decided a good way to handle this feeling, this longing I have to meet more amazing customers and share with them my passion, would be to write about the entire experience, and share with you the good, the bad, and the not so pretty.

While it was a privilege to get to do all this, it was also intimidating at times. The pressure to show not just my customers, but my friends and family (who are so supportive and the best) that I really could make fashion design a career was intense. While I’m lucky I have such a supportive team, professional and personal alike, it’s easy for your own doubts to feel like they’re coming from someone else.

The first hurdle was finding a place to host the shop in. Luckily I found the spot on 251 Elizabeth and that worked out, but I was so concerned with how to get people in the store that I couldn’t see how easy finding the place had been. I laugh at that now. But I was so focused on what to do with the space once I had it. 

Elizabeth St. NYC pop up

For the two weeks before the store opened, I called almost all the florists in New York to ask about their exterior floral designs. I ended up going to a craft shop, buying fake flowers and making the whole display myself. It really struck me that a nice, natural display would help the shop stand out and bring customers in. Natural, elegant, comfortable in your own skin: a flower is all of those things, and like Fancy Troubles, they grab people’s attention.

Floral arrangement Pop up Shop NYC

Once the external deco was dealt with, the inside became all that filled my mind. Not only did I want the event to be memorable, but I also wanted something people could remember it by.

Someone in my social circle had shared the work of an Irish painter who lives in France, and I fell in love with her stuff. Amazingly enough, when I reached out to Rachelle Cunningham she was delighted to make me a commissioned poster, which we also turned into elegant postcards for people to take as keepsakes. That will forever be a cherished collaboration.

Rachelle Cunningham postcard drawing Nolita Pop Up shop

A week away we had all of those things figured out, but we had totally forgotten about the reception we were hosting for early supporters of the brand. We had a week during the peak vacation season in NYC to find a photographer, plan what we were serving for food and drink, and get the word out. It was insanity, but we managed to track down a super talented photographer, who happened to live right above the store! In a city with over 12 million people, a place so populated it can be lonely, the one person we needed above all else lived right over our panicked heads.

The 17th rolled around, and it seemed like we’d gotten everything taken care of: displays, lighting, a custom sign and poster, people to work the floor... but I still couldn’t feel ready. I paced around my hotel room the morning with an insane mixture of panic and excitement...

Then the doors opened, and within thirty minutes someone was in the store.

Nolita Pop Up NYC Fancy Troubles

“Wow, these are made in Italy? So elegant.”

I nearly melted! I had been beating myself up, so focused on what could go wrong I couldn’t see what was going right. I had spent years finding the right manufacturer for my glasses, testing and reconfiguring designs, obsessing over making my products perfect. Once I was finally satisfied I began focusing on perfecting this event. But perfect is only something to strive for, and I need to remind myself of that more often. By forgetting to remember what was right I almost forgot about the reason all of this event prep was happening in the first place, and I undervalued myself, something we can all sadly do.

The rest of the week was a blur. Conversations, smiles, good vibes, and a great night on Saturday all wrapped into one highlight reel of fast moving footage. That’s what I’m holding on to now: not the sadness that it’s over, but celebrating that it happened. All the stressed running around, frantic phone calls, nervous interviews with bloggers and influencers before and during – all of that is an afterthought. What I have front and center are the faces of everyone who came in the store, and celebrated our brand’s journey with us.

Nolita Pop up Shop Fancy Troubles

After all, it’s not every day that you can remember a yesterday where you were running your own store in Manhattan. I don’t want to brag, that’s really not who I am, but I think it’s healthy to acknowledge that I did something special. I’ve worked for over two years getting my designs made into actual glasses, and getting those glasses out into the world. All of the hard work I’ve put in, all the support my team has given me, it let us talk to strangers in our own store about our passions.

I might be feeling somewhere between missing it all and boredom. I think there is a high you get when you defy the odds when you set your sights on something bold and hit the target. I’m craving that now, and I’m feeling more confident than ever that I can pull it off. So, it’s back to work: new designs, new stories and thoughts to share, and new passion to share with our customers. I’m so thankful for everyone who has been on this journey with me from the beginning, and all of those who we are meeting that are getting on board. You all mean the world to me, and you’re the reason all that happened in NYC this month happened.