****** TAKEN FROM ISSUE 3 - GET THE ISSUE HERE ******
There are a lot of really cool stores in New York City. And there are a lot of really cool stores in Soho, shopping mecca of New York City. But American Two Shot is the coolest. I would take the subway downtown in college to order coffee and sit at the coffeeshop that runs against one wall of the store, watching the cool kids socialize and shop for printed tops ands dresses to go with their sneakers. I didn’t even drink coffee. Store owners Steph Krasnoff and Olivia Wolfe, who met growing up in Miami, opened ATS in 2012 and are just the kind of badass ladies that have an eye for the clothes other badass ladies want to wear. They stock their store with small labels, labels that they care about, labels that other people aren’t carrying.
Olivia, angel from the heavens that she is, sat down and talked with us for a little bit about all the important things: being a girl, what she was wearing at ten years old, and her mom.
How did clothing feature into your childhood?
I grew up in Miami, and I think like most kids, I was just a sponge with the influences around me. Miami is a very colorful, very cultural place to grow up, so I think seeing a lot of different types of faces and eating a lot of different types of food made me curious from the get-go. I will look back at pictures and see a skirt or a shirt that I remember wearing on REPEAT for a time. Who knows what the draw was, but I think the interesting part is that there *was* a draw. For some reason, I was attracted to something about the garment - whether it was the color or the fit or the comfort I felt in it, maybe a mix of it all. A lot of mom memories in there also, because my mom was a police detective for most of my life, so I’d watch her wear everything from her plain clothes with a badge and holster look (which was coincidentally usually Ralph Lauren lol) and then watch her change out of that and put on a beautiful evening gown or a t shirt and shorts to take me bike riding. This all influenced my way of thinking in that I saw this woman who could do whatever she wanted to do, and did whatever she wanted to do. There were no boundaries (other than my curfew) and I think that the way you dress is sometimes just a by-product of your life views.
What were you wearing at 10? 15? 20? Now?
At 10 I was swearing a lot of t shirts, shorts, and dresses. I was never a kid who only wore one type of thing. I think I enjoyed being able to wear all different types of clothes and feel different in all of them. At 15 I was definitely more self-conscience, unfortunately, as I think many 15 year olds end up being, but I noticed myself becoming more interested in textures and shapes than anything else. I would show up to a girlfriends house and they’d all laugh at me trying to figure out how or why I thought my outfit looked cool, but I just enjoyed wearing certain things. Ironically, 20 was my sartorial low point. I was in college, on my own, and really buying quantity over quality. It took me a few years to learn how to estimate the worth of something; not the cost, but the worth, so 20 included a lot of cheaply made garments that I have long since given away. Now, I’m not totally sure where I am because I'm in it, but I feel pretty comfortable so that must be a good sign. I still dress however I want, whenever I want. I’m not a person with a “uniform” as I hear many fashion people say (am I a fashion person?? I don’t think I am!?). Right now I’m wearing jeans and sneakers, a loose knit tank from rag and bone that I bought 8 years ago, and a bomber from American Two Shot that we recently made with OBEY. Tomorrow may be this exact same outfit, or something on the opposite end of the spectrum. We’ll have to wait and see what tomorrow brings!
What are some landmark career moments?
Some land mark career moments include still being open after 4 and a half years!! Not even a joke. Often when people ask how the store is doing, I say “we’re still open!” and they’re not always sure how to respond so they just awkwardly laugh, but it’s a pretty good feeling to be paying our bills and rent in Soho every month, let me tell you! Also amazed and grateful everyday that my business partner is who she is. We have been friends for decades and knew that going into business together was a risk (to our friendship especially) but it has been wonderful. In owning your own business, there will always be mistakes made. We’ve made PLENTY and i could laundry list them, but I think the bigger lesson isn’t “how do I avoid making mistakes” but “how do I bounce back and learn from the mistakes I will inevitably make”.
Where did the idea for the store come from?
The idea for the store seemed to hatch over night. One day we said to ourselves “hey a place like this doesn’t seem to exist maybe we should make it” and the next day we were trying to figure out how to make a business plan. the next 6-8 months moved pretty quickly.
How do you feel about being your own boss?
Being your own boss is great, but there are pros and cons to it. I think people assume sometimes that Steph and I can do whatever we want “because we are our own boss”. A guy recently alluded to my being able to take a month off because I’m my own boss and I was like “no honey that ain’t how this works!”. Being your own boss feels exciting and fun and strong on the good days, and scary and overwhelming on the bad days. When something goes wrong, it’s ALL on you. People look to you for answers, and expect them. If you don't have an answer for them, you have to figure it out. It’s a lot of responsibility, but also very rewarding. Our days now are VERY different from the start of the store. The first two years, Steph and I were both working the floor 7 days a week. Even once we knew we were getting burned out, it felt very difficult to be away, both of us feeling a strange sense of guilt to not be working non stop. Luckily, we got over that. Now are days vary a ton - some days we are at the store on the floor all day catching up with customers and hanging with employees, other days we’re in the basement managing our website and different platforms. and now we take the weekends off, always.
ATS has it’s own line — how did that come about?
Starting our own line was WAY harder than expected! We knew from before we even opened that one day we’d love to try and produce some clothing, but we wanted to make everything in America and here in lies the challenge. It was important for us to know who was making our clothing, the conditions they work in etc., and it’s a lot easier to fly to LA than it is to China. But learning about an industry we knew nothing about was challenging, and people really don't make it easy to produce domestically at a reasonable cost. We just kept going, by trial and error mostly, to figure it out. We are still learning and making mistakes (and hopefully learning from those mistakes!)
Okay, so in terms of inspiration. Lets talk.
Inspiration comes when it damn well feels like it, and trying to control that process, I’ve found, is fruitless. The best advice I have to give to anyone in any creative industry is to not feel defeated if and WHEN your inspiration well is dry. It invariably comes back, but when you try and force it, it only takes longer. Don't fight the dry spell, use the time to be productive in other arenas of your life.
Do you feel that your personal and professional worlds are separate or that they bleed into each other?
Oh it’s one big bleed, but I love it. It’s really so fun to get to work with friends and inspire each other. We have gotten to use ATS as a platform for our friends to show work, and much more often simply become friends with people we met through work. As long as everyone remembers that friendship is friendship and work is work, it’s all good. The way we treat people we work with and our friends isn’t any different - we try and communicate clearly and with respect, and everything else usually falls into place.
Dream outfit for a dream meal?
Dream outfit - I can’t. I would have like 9 costume changes, including my favorite pajamas, a favorite evening dress, jeans and a hoodie, something of my moms, something of my grandmothers. I can’t choose one! Accordingly, with each costume change would come a different course - ice cream, roast veggies, a fish course, a burger and fries (no bun pls) and my mom’s lasagna.
What’s some of your favorite music to listen to while you work?
Oh all over the place, but a lot of hip hop (shout out Kanye and Drake and Kari faux), a lot of jazz (shout out Ellington and Coltrane and Count Basie), a lot of mix tapes (shout out so super Sam and Japancakes) and a lot of pod casts (shout out great debates and Juan EP).
One of those 5 year olds that does something whacky in a vine and becomes a meme celebrity.
Can you talk a little bit about how you feel about being a woman in the fashion industry?
My sense of feminism isn’t fueled by working in fashion particularly, but perhaps more so by being a business owner. In the past I worked in industries that were overwhelmingly male (film and art) and I was more acutely aware then of being the only girl in the room. As I’ve gotten older, whether I’m the only woman around, or surrounded by other women, I just think it’s important to find my voice, make it heard, and listen to other people as well. I love supporting other women in their ventures, because I know it’s not always easy. I have had some damn fine role models though, in both my mother and grandmother. I grew up with some fabulously chic no bullshit matriarchs.