It was after being stopped on the street time and again by people asking her where she bought her daughters’ clothes from that New York-based Julie Turkel Abrahamson came up with the idea of launching a luxury kids consignment website...
“I never bought in to the whole idea that children’s things should be cheap and disposable because they grow so much. That theory felt wasteful and unsatisfying. Moms would always ask me about where I got my girls’ clothes and would also ask me where to buy shoes, how to decorate their rooms, etc. Most moms would never take the time to research and hunt down unique products at European boutiques and on eBay like I did,” explains the stylish mother of two (Justine, 8, and Romy, 5). She launched Girls On Greenwich as a stand alone e-commerce site. “I believe our philosophy of ‘better quality, less waste’ is how moms today really want to shop for their kids,” she says. As we become more environmentally aware, it’s an approach many of us are taking: buy less but buy well. On her site, you’ll find a beautifully edited mix of pieces from brands such as Stella McCartney, Bonpoint, Tartine et Chocolat and more.
The Florida-born Turkel Abrahamson lives in a loft-style abode in the West Village. She worked with Homepolish interior designer Erica Riha, to transform the space into a haven that’s minimal and chic, with pops of uplifting colour. Her girls’ rooms are full of charm, colour and personality: there’s rows of Bonpoint Liberty print boxes, African dolls and a kilim rug purchased from eBay. “I would encourage anyone living in a small space to read the Marie Kondo book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” says Turkel Abrahamson. “Or simply ask yourself whether the things around you give you pleasure and serve a purpose and simply let go of the things that don’t.” We caught up with the talented mama to talk motherhood and find out more about her growing business…
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
I make my bed so that I am not tempted to get back in it. I also have to have hot water with lemon first thing.
What is the best advice you’ve been given about motherhood?
When I was pregnant with my second daughter Romy I was so busy and stressed between balancing my toddler, business, home and exhaustion. I did not have that blissful, glowing feeling that I did with my first child. Plus I felt a little bit of “been there, done that”. A few weeks before giving birth a close, older friend of mine told me to stop and think about the miracle that was happening inside me and to give some time and energy to the baby and just “be with her”. As crazy as it sounds, it really helped me bond with Romy, appreciate the moment, the accomplishment, in general, have more gratitude for the amazing gift of becoming a mother. I hope Romy doesn’t resent the 7+ months that I complained about and ignored her!
What do you love most about being a mother?
I love re-living moments of my own childhood through my children. I am always amazed by their keen observations and their ability to build relationships with friends. I also love that my life is not all about me and my work. And I cannot lie – I love shopping for and dressing my girls.
Can you tell us about your career path?
Through some odd twists and turns I ended up in New York City working for Nickelodeon in the division of the company that made licensed consumer products such as toys, apparel and ice cream. I knew I was not long for the corporate world, and I have always been an avid shopper of fashion and design, so I decided to use my experience in licensing and brand building and start my own agency focused on licensing emerging designers. I started to approach designers that I loved personally about licensing their brands. A few really great designers were sold on my vision and signed multi-year agreements with me to build their businesses. My first clients were Jonathan Adler and Nate Berkus, but I went on to consult with numerous brands and still work with one brand Dabney Lee whose products can be found primarily at Target and Homegoods.
What inspired you to launch Girls On Greenwich?
I love working with talented designers, but I always wanted to be the brand and do something on a bigger scale than being the “agent”. On the side, I was an avid eBayer and was known for my vast collection of designer children’s wear that I collected for my two daughters. Moms would always ask me about where I got my girls’ clothes and would also ask me where to buy shoes, how to decorate their rooms, etc. Most moms would never take the time to research and hunt down unique products at European boutiques and on eBay like I did.
I finally decided to start Girls on Greenwich as a stand alone e-commerce site because I saw a void and an opportunity. I love my licensing business, but I am passionate about this new venture not only because I love the clothes we carry (we carry like-new pieces from Bonpoint, Caramel Baby & Child, Bobo Choses, Stella McCartney Kids, Mabo and other stylish brands), but I believe our philosophy of “better quality, less waste” is how moms today really want to shop for their kids.
What are your top three tips for launching a business?
1. Have patience, and lots of it.
2. Be adaptable – plans change, markets change, policies change.
3. Learn from your mistakes and learn from others.
What did your own mother teach you?
I hope she appreciates this answer because it’s not about life lessons or advice on motherhood – my mom always had her own sense of style both in fashion and in home. She didn’t look like all of the other moms I grew up with in Tampa, Florida and there was a noticeable difference in her style and confidence. I am definitely influenced by my mom’s personal style (for example, neither of us like red), but I am more of a minimalist than her. I think I gravitated towards fashion and design in my career because of her.
How would you describe the interior of your home?
Loft-like and minimalist with shots of happiness.
How have you managed to create a space, which is child friendly but also appeals to adults?
I don’t think children want clutter and I especially don’t, so I have been clever about storing toys, coats, and other family items that take up space, behind tastefully closed doors. I buy some toys that are both fun and look pretty and leave those out to serve the dual purposes of play and décor.
What about homewares – where do you shop?
Where do you go for affordable artworks?
I found some of my favorite pieces in my apartment on the street (i.e. the garbage!), but I am also lucky to have talented family members. My grandmother was a painter and my father took the photos of the moons in my living room. Everyone asks me about the moons. I love vintage art. I bought a little on eBay and my mom finds pieces in Florida and sends them to me.
The biggest challenge for me is balancing working “on” the business vs. working “in” the business…
With this start-up it’s all hands on deck with minimal resources so I have to prioritize and work smart, I have to accept that some things may not get done, I have to learn to delegate to a team and manage those people, I have to ask for help when I need it. E-commerce is different from my licensing business that required only me, my desk and a phone.
The beauty products I can’t leave the house without are…
Boyfriend or skinny jeans?
I wish boyfriend, but skinny just suits me better.
Favourite social media platform?
Instagram is the only one that I intuitively understand, but I am curious about Snapchat.
NYC or LA?
West Village NYC.
What is your approach to wellbeing?
I recently had a health issue that was somewhat of a wakeup call. Now I am fully immersed in the whole wellness trend (no gluten, no sugar, hot water with lemon, green juice, daily pro-biotic, lots of tumeric). I used to mock it but now I get it because I feel amazing.
Do you prefer to text or call?
I would normally say cut to the chase and just call, but everyone texts. I walk down the street texting. One day I am going to have a serious spill on the streets of New York.
Lip gloss or lipstick?
Ligne Roset sofa, vintage metal framed chair, DWR Knoll coffee table, Robert Turkel moon prints and West Elm lamp and rug
Coffee or tea?
Maybe tea. I’m allergic to caffeine.
Who is your role model?
Diane Von Furstenberg
What is your definition of success?
Being stable and secure while being happy at what you are doing at the same time; finishing the day without a lot of to-do’s left on the list.
2016 is going to be the year that you?
Take inventory of what is and isn’t working in my life and let go of the latter.
You can never have too much of what in your wardrobe?
I have a very carefully edited wardrobe, but I have to say that I have a lot of Isabel Marant tops and grey T-shirts by Current Elliot.
Are you a neat or messy person?
Julie’s little list of loves:
Feeling spring and summer in the air.
Green Juice #1 from Pressed Juicery
Bonpoint tops and dresses with hand smocking.
Eres one-piece swimsuits.
Wrapping orders for GoG customers.
Barrow Street in the West Village.
Flowy dresses for summer.
Watching my daughter perfect her cartwheel.