Store manager Kelly Christy outside Wendy Mink Jewelry on Orchard between Broome and Grand. Photo courtesy of Google Images.
Wendy Mink likes the Lower East Side so much that she shuttered her jewelry store in the West Village a year and a half ago and moved it to Orchard Street. Most days, she's too busy designing earrings and bracelets alongside a team of Tibetan artisans in her TriBeCa studio to spend much time in the neighborhood. (Her work is inspired by travels to the Indian subcontinent and flea markets in Europe.)
But I spoke with one of the shop's managers, Kelly Christy, at the boutique just south of the museum. Her thoughts on the neighborhood: "It keeps changing, but it still has its heart and soul." Locals seem to accept its shifting nature, she said, and because "people who live here shop here" - particularly younger residents and teachers who work at nearby schools - its a good place to run a small business.
Kelly herself is a milliner, and has a studio in the back of the store. She sells some of her hats alongside Wendy's jewelry, and did the reverse when she ran a shop of her own (now shuttered) in TriBeCa. The two artists met through a mutual friend 19 years ago, not long after Wendy first launched her collection, and fast became buddies after taking a martial arts class together.
The economic climate has changed a lot since then - but Kelly ensured me that her longtime friend is doing well and "has a good following."