Ten Money Questions for Deb Malkin
Deb Malkin is the owner of Re/Dress, a plus-sized vintage and resale store that opened a few months ago in Brooklyn, New York. I stopped by the lovely store and met Deb and some of her staff. The space is great as well as the selection of clothes and accessories.
1. What was your inspiration for opening Re/Dress?
My inspiration for opening Re/Dress NYC was my amazing fierce fat community and the way working with them has transformed my life for the better. So many of the women, men + transfolks I know rock their fashion hard making a unrepentant statement that they are not to be ignored. And honestly it was completely selfish, I made the store I’ve always wanted to shop in. Creating and organizing the Fat Girl Flea Market was my baby steps to starting Re/Dress NYC.
2. Growing up, were you always a fashionista?
Nope, not at all. I was a wannabe fashionista with no sewing skills and no access to fashion as a fat kid. So instead I spent a lot of time dressing at 19 like I was 40. Now I’m almost 40 and I love to dress like I wanted to at 19.
3. How did you finance your shop? savings? loans? credit cards?
Lots and lots of savings, and cashing out of stocks, which before the crazy recession/stock market splat felt kind of insane, and now it feels like a brilliant investment. And what they say about new businesses and credit card balances is true. Mine used to be $0.
4. Opening a retail space is hard especially in this soft economy, so how do you plan to attract people to your store?
First off I’m working hard on PR, getting editorials in magazines and online. I’m pretty familiar with the plus size online marketing machine and will to tap into it. We’ve been favorably reviewed in a bunch of blogs like Racked, Yelp, Budget Fashionista, Luvin’ My Curves, and the Fatshionista community on Livejournal.
We’re also have a lot of fun with posting pictures on Facebook and having people discover our store through their friends. It’s a very destination-oriented type shop, with a lot of word of mouth potential. I’ve also had calls from costume designers and Vogue searching for vintage goodies.
5. What is your favorite outfit to wear?
Lately I’ve been working a lot of black and grey and doing a post-punk rocker chick thing. My grey modal Svoboda skirt, black frayed denim Tripp NYC jacket, funky tee shirt from the Velveteria in PDX, and either my Fluevog engineer boots or shortie cowboy boots are my comfy clothes these days. It’s so fun to get to wear what I want. I feel the Spring is going to bring a lot of vintage crinolines into my life.
6. What are some style tips for right sized (plus-sized) women?
My favorite style tip is to stop wearing clothing that are TOO BIG. Learn to dress + get comfortable with your curves. If you buy a size smaller, it will help define your shape. Wearing shapeless clothing isn’t going to make you look any smaller, so you ain’t fooling nobody. Show off, feel good, fake it til you make it and you will make it to feeling more confident about your body. Also get a good fitting bra.
7. What is the one personal item that you always splurge on?
I always try to buy one really nice piece a year. Whether it’s a fancy party dress, a pair of sexy boots, or a vintage coat. Whatever it is that makes my heart go pitter pat, that’s what I’ll do. Especially if it’s something I’ll get a lot of use out of and love, then it doesn’t cost a lot over time. My other favorite splurge is jeans from Svoboda. They make my ass look hot. (Can I say ass?) [ Ed. note Yes, you can!]
8. What is one thing that you feel is always overpriced?
It’s hard for me to tell since I usually shop sale or resale. So I know how to find a bargain and love it. Which I why I made my store. I can’t really hack retail. But I would say I don’t understand why bras are so damned expensive. Those I buy new. I would love to try out some of the more fancy kinds but I’m afraid of the price tags. Eeeeek.
9. Given the “Skinny Bitch” syndrome affecting New York City, do you feel that her business is better-received and more at in Brooklyn as opposed to Manhattan?
Well I think that the “skinny bitch” thing is as much hype as anything. I think there are a lot of women who are struggling and having a hard time being told their bodies aren’t good enough. If I could open a store in Manhattan I would but probably in a “neighborhoody” type area since that’s my vibe. I’m a DIY kinda girl so Brooklyn with it’s more chill and artsy atmosphere is perfect for me. I love being in Boerum Hill which only three stops out of Manhattan but near all the best restaurants and other cute stores. I love that I can create a real “girls day out” kind of experience for plus size women.
10. If you were given $20 to spend one item of clothing or accessory for an evening out on the town, what would you buy?
I would say being out on the town means showing off your assets and feeling like a knockout. At Re/Dress NYC $20 can buy you a cute party dress, or a hot pair of shoes and some jewelry or a foxy belt. I bought both my New Year’s Eve dress as well as my Christmas Eve dress for under $20 each. At my store $20 goes a long way.
Read other Queercents interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.