Friends in fashion: for those of us less stylishly oriented, these are the girlfriends who keep tabs on up-and-coming designers so we can make a purchase that counts as cool every once in a while. Which is why we stalk everything that pops up on the curated shopping site Of a Kind. Founders Claire Mazur and Erica Cerulo are the kinds of women we idiolize, with impeccable taste, a sense of humor and a constantly rotating supply of limited edition accessories, clothing and home decor. We recently chatted them up for designers to know, travel must-haves and destination intel from Brooklyn to New Orleans.
What was the inspiration behind launching Of a Kind?
Claire: Erica and I had already been friends for eight years by the time we started the business, and we had spent so much of our hang-time scouring boutiques on the northside of Chicago (where we went to college) and on the lower east side of New York (where we moved after graduation), searching for the perfect pieces from some unknown designer — things nobody else would have. We’ve always loved that feeling of being one of the first people to discover a new talent. I remember Erica had ordered a pair of earrings from Lulu Frost at a young designer’s market and ended up having to pick them up from the designer’s apartment. We wanted to recreate that same thrill of discovery and sense of intimacy by introducing pieces that really excited us and sharing the backstory behind the people who made them.
How do you find your designers, and what makes something a perfect fit for Of a Kind?
Claire: We find designers all over the place — scoping out boutiques in our hometown but especially when we travel to other cities and trade shows, and increasingly on blogs and Instagram. We have this group message going on Instagram with Erica, our buyer, and me, and we’re constantly just sending each other posts of stuff we love on there. When it comes to finding products that are the perfect fit we’re always thinking about what feels really special but accessible — we don’t want the things we sell to feel intimidating or esoteric. Good design should be something that people of all backgrounds can appreciate. That accessibility extends to price, too. We want to train our audience to look beyond fast fashion (and its low price points), but in order to do that, I think you have to ease them in somewhat gradually. So we do our best to try to keep prices in check.
You both live in Brooklyn, i.e. the king of the NYC food scene. What’s your go-to place for a cozy brunch or a date night out?
Claire: Nightingale 9 is a go-to for Friday night dates with my husband. We usually sit at the bar and get two orders of the papaya salad and the Chaca Catfish because we love both of those dishes too much to have to share them.
Erica: I’m full-blown obsessed with Tilda All Day, right on the Prospect Heights/Clinton Hill border. My husband and I have a standing breakfast date there on Wednesdays. The food is so, so much more impressive than it needs to be (not that I’m complaining!) — I had whipped tofu with roasted beets, radicchio, and charred scallions this week. And the owners are straight-up charming. It’s exactly the place you want in your neighborhood.
When you're not shopping online, what are the local boutiques that you love?
Claire: Modern Anthology down the street from my apartment in Dumbo is really great for guys — I always end up walking out having spent too much money on clothes that my husband probably doesn’t need.
Erica: I don’t know why it took me so long to discover French Garment Cleaners in Fort Greene, but it’s probably good for my bank account that it did.
You must have some of the best-stocked closets in the city. What are your must-brings when you’re packing for a trip?
Claire: A giant scarf is a must because it serves so many different purposes — warmth, makeshift pillow, sarong. I’ve started to amass a tiny collection of ones from the Japanese designer Tamaki Niime — she handweaves them and they’re gorgeous.
Erica: I’ve brought The OG bag by Lo & Sons on every trip I’ve taken since I got it about four years ago. Man, is it one well-thought-out carry-on, and it holds up really nicely.
We love your 10 Things emails, with five picks from each of you. How do you feel about turning it on for travel? Favorite destination, and five things you love there - go!
Claire: Okay, LA! Sugarfish for sushi, Brentwood Farmer’s Market for produce, Angeles Crest for hiking, Tortoise General Store for the most beautiful Japanese objects, and The Getty Center for the art inside its walls and the gorgeous landscaping and views outside of them.
Erica: Oooh, New Orleans is definitely up there for me. First things first: Go during Jazz Fest (and I’m not a music festival person… or even a music person, really). Stay at Soniat House, eat at Cochon (like everyone tells you — it’s for real), drink at Bacchanal Wine, and shop at Solange’s boutique Exodus Goods so you can tell me about it because I haven’t been and need to know everything.