This blog is about a lot of things—creative writing, combining the left and right sides of the brain, trying to read/write about girl stuff without being ashamed, lawyering… at its core, however, it’s about a random dream. With that, I’m dedicating this post to Erica Kiang, a former roommate of mine who is neither a writer nor lawyer, yet she nevertheless served as an inspiration for my attempt at noveling because she literally made her dream come true before my eyes.
Back in 2007, Erica and I were two of five roommates who lived together in NYC after college, connected by a mutual friend. In the midst of our time living together, Erica would casually mention that she wanted to open a store that sold clothes from around the world. Eventually, she would move out of the apartment and I would move out of NYC and we would lose touch.
Fast forward two years, and our mutual friend tells me that Erica owns a store called Babel Fair in Nolita selling (surprise!) clothes from all over the world. Fast forward five more minutes, and I’m purchasing multiple dresses and using pictures of myself in them as my facebook pictures. She’s written about in New York magazine, Time Out, she’s on NBC and all this other craziness (now she’s achieved the ultimate honor of being featured on this blog). The point is Erica stopped “paying dues” when she was 25 (or 24), instead she’s literally living her dream!
Since this essentially a blog about a journey toward a personal goal/aspiration, I decided to use my journalism skills and ask Erica a little bit about her experience turning a dream into reality. And since she agreed to answer my Qs, I should let you know that Babel Fair is located at 260 Elizabeth Street and sells some very unique, very cute stuff. But anyway, here’s what she said…
Babel Fair is a boutique and showroom that carries a unique and constantly changing global assortment of international designers.
How did you go from telling your four roommates that you wanted to open a store selling clothes from all over the world, to actually doing it a couple of years later?
I think mostly passion. I loved every step of opening the store, from scouting locations, choosing designers, designing the store, etc., so I worked on it every free second I got. Weekends, nights, mornings—even during work at my other job—all of this time was spent obsessively doing research.
Tell me how your day to day life has changed since you worked at Ann Taylor back in 2007 or so.
Well for one, I feel like I never work. Of course I get stressed and have hard days but I never feel like I’m obligated to do anything or I’m just going through the motions, it’s all self-motivated. I’m working on things I love and choose to do. I think once you open a business, there’s so many other doors/opportunities that open up. So it’s an exciting time. Each day is never the same, and I love that. I never know what emails or phone calls I’m going to get.
Is there anything about opening a clothing store that is similar to trying to write a novel while working a law firm??
Similar to a novel? I think just commitment. You can’t really open a store or write a novel half-heartedly. I mean you can.. but it won’t be impactful. You have to follow through with well thought out plans. And also make sure you minimize the word document you’re working on when your boss walks by ; )
What advice do you have for people who are scared to pursue their childhood dreams?
Haha, I don’t know if I’m in the position to comment on following childhood dreams. But I think if you have a serious passion meaning it drives/motivates you and you know you’re good at it – pursue it. Do serious research, be knowledgeable and realistic. Passion is a gift I think, so if you have it you are already lucky. And preparation is key.
I know you love Sex and the City as much as I do, tell me why!
Oooh that was a secret! Okay fine. I love Sex and the City mainly because of the clothes. Who doesn’t? I might or might not have found a tulle ballerina skirt and wore it in high school…
I’ll admit that last question was kind of random, oh well. Below is a pic of me (on the right) in a a dress I bought at Babel Fair. Tia Mowry is on the left in a dress that was clearly sold in Babel Fair (whether she actually bought it there is unknown, and probably irrelevant).