Monday, October 12, 2009
Interview with Diana English, owner of Diana Kane
All About Fifth talks to Diana English, owner of Diana Kane, about her "must-haves" and the latest trends in fashion for the fall/winter season.
AFF: Where are you from originally?
English: The simple answer to that is Northern California- although my earliest years were spent in rural midcoastal Maine, and Maine is still really close to my heart.
AFF: What's your background and what inspired you to open the store?
English: I had been designing and wholesaling my jewelry collection for a number of years. I wanted a new studio space and saw an opportunity on Fifth Avenue to indulge a life long fantasy- my own store. So, with the jewelry studio in the back of the store and acting as insurance if the retail didn't work, I took a chance on what, in the winter of 2002, was a pretty quiet stretch of Fifth Avenue. The store allowed and continues to allow me to bring beautifully crafted small designers' work to an audience who can enjoy and appreciate it. It's one of the facets of the store I most enjoy, being able to introduce and share great designs and designers with a larger community. And Park Slope really is an ideal community- happy to find something new and beautiful, excited to support our neighbors, and having cultivated tastes and an appreciation of style and craft.
AFF: What styles do you consider classic and timeless?
English: Well, I'm really a sucker for the most basic styles-- I just want the best versions of them. So for me, timeless is great fitting jeans, perfect t-shirts in super soft (preferably organic) cotton... Or in the fall, luscious long sleeved versions in cotton cashmere blends. Handcrafted belts, simple gold jewelry in uncluttered designs you can wear every day, but make you look and feel polished and put together.
AFF: What are the trends for this fall/winter season?
English: Lots of scarves, which are a great way to enliven and refresh your wardrobe, chunky sweaters, and great boots. There are so many excellent options for all of those this season!
AFF: What are your must haves?
English: Well, I had to have Calleen Cordero's amazing hand made black leather boots... They have a very subtle reference to good ol' Doc Martens-- only the sumptuous grown-up and refined version. And Majestic's navy to black dip dyed cashmere long sleeve shirt is like a warm second skin, and lately I'm lost without Steven Alan's wool/cotton woven shirts.
AFF: Where do you shop?
English: In the neighborhood!! I love Scaredy Kat, the Community Bookstore, St. Kilda, Babeland.
AFF: What are some of the greatest challenges of owning a small business?
English: Big box store competition is probably the single biggest challenge. And Internet shopping is a close second. The designers I love and support are working with small production runs, usually here in the US, and hand crafting their wares... It makes for incredible products, but the prices also reflect their standards. And wearing lots of hats throughout the day can sometimes be daunting. Some days I'm the bookkeeper, buyer, jeweler, merchandiser, cleaning lady all at once.
AFF: And, oh, who is Diana Kane?
English: Me. (Kane is my maiden name). Long term Park Slope resident (15 years, where does it go?), mom, wife, friend, designer, shop keeper, neighbor, reader, dreamer, appreciator...
Interview by Rebeccah Welch