If you haven’t heard of Sarah Slutsky in the context of her VP role at video startup Cinematique, perhaps you’ve come across her celebrity styling in glossy magazine pages. The incredibly busy, and incredibly accomplished 29-year-old has showcased her fashion prowess by outfitting stars like Emma Watson and Elizabeth Olsen.
The New Yorker draws inspiration from her surroundings: the hustle and bustle of city living, but especially lesser-known hideaways nestled within the expansive metropolis. The hidden gems of downtown's east side, where Slutsky lived for years and where her office is currently based, especially call to her. "There was a time where I knew Canal to 14th Street between Broadway and Avenue D like the back of my hand," she says. "It's a truly amazing place."
In partnership with Sanpellegrino® Sparkling Fruit Beverages, we tagged along with the talented startup maven/stylist for a day to get a feel for her New York — the spots that fuel her style genius. Read on for unique east side discoveries, and keep the journey going with Delightways, a new app from Sanpellegrino® that’s curated thousands of similar local attractions to happily stumble upon.
Our first stop takes us to the corner of Prince and Elizabeth streets. With a seemingly bottomless inventory of the coolest in vintage menswear, The Quality Mending Co., located on the same block of NoLita for over a decade, is filled with the sartorial charms of yesteryear.
It's just so happens to be one of Slutsky's very first New York discoveries. "I remember feeling like it was such an authentic taste of all different kinds of fashion — I find myself coming back here and looking around, feeling the fabrics ... I love menswear for women."
As she sifts through racks of vintage tees, baskets of varsity pennants, and piles of recycled denim, she considers the shop's quirky meld of Americana. "In terms of inspiration, I think Americana is always trickling in and out of my brain: Different people from all over the world come here and settle, so what does it actually mean to have an American sense of style? I feel like it's wrapped up in here through a lot of the different pieces."
Slutsky's style philosophy is similarly eclectic, juxtaposing the ultra-feminine with an edgy downtown aesthetic. Fittingly, her favorite find of the day was a bright yellow muscle tee, which she plans on pairing it with a long, "proper '50s style" skirt.
The Sill, tucked away on the Lower East Side's Hester Street, is our second stop, and it religiously abides by the mantra: "Plants make people happy." Both a go-to for city greenery and a quick and easy stop-in for plant-owner pedagogy, this micro-oasis successfully brings the great outdoors to urbanites.
As soon as you step inside, humidity and the scent of damp earth hits you — this cleverly curated jungle of sorts seems to have its own climate. Slutsky recently moved to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and she's turned to the tiny plant shop to brighten her new space. "They always have something different; they collaborate with many artists," she explains. Today, the artistry is most distinct in the pastel, seemingly cake-frosted pottery adorning the "Plant of the Month" wall. (The title is currently held by the parlor palm, by the way).
And, it all plays into her personal style, but touches on a different note. "My aesthetic as far as fashion versus home is really different. In fashion styling, I'm usually thinking edgier, and downtown. My home is bright: I'm drawn to pops of color over white," she says. "I love to use home and plants as that breath of fresh air in comparison to my personal style."
With Slutsky at the helm, we saunter north to the quiet Elizabeth Street block where Love Adorned is located. Since it opened in December 2010, Love Adorned has been a distinctly crafty enterprise. Housing everything from fine jewelry to quirky rugs, kilt pins and Aztec art, the idiosyncratic shop is one of NoLita's best-kept secrets.
Slutsky first discovered the boutique while walking to work from her former Lower East Side abode. "It's a treasure. Whenever I have anyone in from out of town, I take them here," she says.
Shop owner Lori Leven, her petite black dog Birdie on her arm and a one-of-kind diamond ring on her finger, greets us. In addition to Love Adorned, Leven is proprietor of New York Adorned, a two-decade-old East Village tattoo shop. "I'm very interested in having a store that isn't like the other stores you walk in and out of. I feel like it's a little bit of a problem these days — everyone is carrying the 20 most popular lines and just painting the walls a different color." Leven takes this interest to heart, traveling around the world to find unique and one-of-a-kind items from artists.
Slutsky draws style inspiration from the breadth and depth of the shop's quirky, yet thoughtfully cultivated collection. "There's an ebb-and-flow," she says.
It's time to take a quick break. Albert's Garden, off an unexpectedly quiet block of 2nd Street between bustling Bowery and 2nd Avenue, is just the place to sit for a while. Come springtime, few spots on the city's east side compare to this garden that provides some elusive metropolitan tranquility, complete with a delightful goldfish pond. "There are six fish to be exact," one of the volunteers that maintain the garden tells us.
This special pocket of greenery means a lot to Slutsky. "When I first moved to NYC, I lived in the Lower East Side with my best friend. We were just in love with the city. I think we spent every single day running up and down every single street," she explains. "This is where we would relax on the weekends, read books, and hang out … just talk about our lives."
"New York is so manic, and to have a piece of calm tucked away on a city block is really special. It's magic," she smiles, and takes a sip of her Sanpellegrino® Sparkling Fruit Beverage.
She's since introduced the spot to her coworkers. "My office is still nearby, so often in the summer, instead of having a coffee meeting, we'll go to the garden."
For Tictail Market, what began as a digital endeavor has become one of the Lower East Side's most creative spaces, a masterfully curated mini-emporium of art, fashion, and design from innovative indie brands and artists. Several successful pop-up shops later, the e-commerce platform for emerging crafters has boasted a permanent brick-and-mortar space since December.
Tictail is a newer find for Slutsky, but it's become a fast favorite. "I love anything that's an outlet for people to do things that inspire them. It's become a regular spot to pop back down to," she says.
The unique mishmosh of styles and wares — we're talking stationary and books, clothing and shoes, children's goods, pottery and miniatures — keeps her coming back and spurs her own creativity.
"I love the playfulness and the imaginative nature of all of the products. It gets me thinking about mixing and matching colors in unexpected ways, and being really playful with different fabrics," she says.
As we filter back onto the street where we'll go our separate ways, the mood is bittersweet. It's goodbye for now, but who knows what we'll encounter en route.