After passing by (and falling in love with) a beautiful store named Mulberry & Grand, in Little Italy, our Founder Fernanda Paronetto decided to interview the owner, Emily Guggino.
The minute Emily Guggino graduated College, she moved to New York City. Even as a small child she knew that she wanted to be in New York, walking in high heels down the City streets.
Ayhan, her future husband, was a Turkish photojournalist, and moved from a prominent position in Istanbul to come to New York and live the American dream.
Their love story began when Emily (minus the high heels!) stumbled upon Ayhan, selling his photography outside the Guggenheim Museum one sunny Sunday afternoon. Together they launched their first brand called Studio Manhattan, which is a series of artwork and photographic accessories.
Just a little over a year and a half ago they launched Mulberry & Grand, a curated collection of inspired accessories that Emily fell in love with. Their love for travel has introduced them to many artisans across the world and, together with their own designs, have created Mulberry & Grand. The brand is super feminine, and totally the opposite of Studio Manhattan.
“We are currently working on a line of handmade petite diamond jewelry, that is handmade in NY.” Emily, is super excited about this especially since she's a lover of all things that are gold and sparkly!
“It's really our goal to inspire our customers with lovely accessories, and we want to take our passion & inspiration and give back. Mulberry & Grand has already raised funds for Syrian refugees, and we hope to continue that in an even bigger way to continue to assist women and children to get access to great eduction, so they can also pursue their dreams.”
“Our idea of NY has really changed since we had kids, we aren't really utilizing NY the same way as we did a few years ago. It's changed from going out to great dinners and hang outs to finding the best climbing rocks in Central Park (away from tourists), the best gelato, and the easiest streets to maneuver a double stroller.
Ayhan and I try to sneak out for lunch dates during the work week, so we can have some quality time to ourselves away from work and the kids. When we do, we try different restaurants, otherwise we frequent cafés and coffee shops for quick bites. We also generally try to stick within walking distance of our stores on Mulberry Street.”
If you’re into healthy eating and enjoy yogurt (Greek yogurt, to be more specific), this is the place for you to to! Greecologies doesn’t work with industrialized products and offer the freshest, high quality and delicious food. They have everything from yogurts (of course), to a few savories, amazing desserts like their chia pudding, smoothies, probiotic drinks and a wide variety of coffees!
“We love Greecologies. Their coffee and small bites are really yummy, and it's the perfect quiet open space to have meetings or bring a laptop and get some emails taken care of. They also have a secret garden in the back, that has great outdoor seating.”
Location: 379 Broome Street
We recently wrote about Cha Cha Matcha (here). We love their drinks and the matcha ice cream…it’s simply d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!!! Perfect for any time of year, they have the matcha drinks, a few different bites and great coffee!
“Cha Cha Matcha is also around the corner from Greecologies, and we love them for their matcha sweets. Surprisingly they only take credit cards, so don't bring cash, lol.”
Location: 373 Broome Street
Surely one of the eternal hot spots in the City, with a few different locations, Sant Ambroeus is a restaurant, a paninoteca and a coffee bar. They most stylish and cool people are always around. Who? Olivia Palermo, for example, is always around!
“For more upper scale eating, Sant Ambroeus in SoHo is one of our favs.”
Location: 265 Lafayette Street
Ahhh…Japanese food! Yes, we are very fond of Japanese cuisine and love the restaurants the City has to offer! Zuma is one of the top ones for sure. They offer a contemporary japanese izakaya, in other words, they are a “Japanese tavern: drinking houses with a menu of small dishes for snacking while drinking.”…It’s a very informal dining style spot.
“Our new favorite outside of the neighborhood has been Zuma, an upscale Japanese restaurant in Mid-town. The small dishes are great for sharing and it's a place to go to taste wonderful food, but not if you are super hungry.”
Location: 261 Madison Avenue
If you enjoy coffee like we do, you have to go to La Colombe. They aren’t a secret in the City, since they have several locations and are sold in several places, but you’ll be sure to have great coffee options.
“Even though this is not quite a secret spot, for coffee we love, La Colombe in SoHo. They have an awesome cold latte on tap. Often there's a line, but it's definitely worth the wait.”
Location: 270 Lafayette Street
We all love New York, specially when the weather is awesome, right? There are countless outdoor activities to do and many to improvise. If you’re a mom, creativity needs to be in action 24/7. Central Park and other parks are not necessarily a “behind the scenes” activity, but it is surely a highlight with the kids with the endless space for them to have fun.
“We don't have time to exercise, so Ayhan stays fit by scooting between stores or renting Citi Bikes to get to our Uptown locations. I chase kids, lol. Lately we've been taking them to Central Park to climb the rocks. When they were smaller our favorite was Hippo Playground on the Upper West Side.”
CitiBike - Spread through out the City - www.citibikenyc.com
Central Park - www.centralparknyc.org
Hippo Park - Riverside Park, at West 90th-91st - https://riversideparknyc.org/groups/hippo-playground
Yup! Little Italy has really changed a lot over the years and now we can find many New Yorkers roaming around the streets, discovering every new place that has opened. The street was named after the mulberry trees that once existed and was a street that housed grocery shops and butcher houses, with countless Italian immigrants.
As the New York Times wrote back in 1896:
“They are laborers; toilers in all grades of manual work; they are artisans, they are junkman, and here, too, dwell the rag pickers....There is a monster colony of Italians who might be termed the commercial or shop keeping community of the Latins. Here are all sorts of stores, pensions, groceries, fruit emporiums, tailors, shoemakers, wine merchants, importers, musical instrument makers....There are notaries, lawyers, doctors, apothecaries, undertakers.... There are more bankers among the Italians than among any other foreigners except the Germans in the city.”
Now, it hosts nice Italian restaurants, cool small store and so much more.
“The coolest street in NY is Mulberry Street, between Grand and Broome, lol! That's where our store is and we spend a tremendous amount of time there. Local New Yorkers are always surprised when they visit and see how much Little Italy has changed. It's not just a tourist destination anymore….amazing restaurants and boutique shopping are slowly taking over.”
And…a few fun questions to finish the Interview:
What does NYC mean to you?
“NYC will always mean a lot to us. It’s where we met, started our family and our business. It will always be our epicenter.”
What will a New Yorker never tell someone?
“There's probably a lot a New Yorker would never tell someone. There's just too much to tell! Everyday is an adventure.”
What piece of advise would you give someone that just moved to NY?
“New York is a dynamic place and full of extremes. It’s the absolute best place and the absolute worst all wrapped into one. That's what we love about it!”
Photo Credits: Susan Portnoy, Life.com, @neutralthreads, @ ephemeralnewyork, Courtesy of the Venues.