Brooklyn-based style icon and retail authority, Jennifer Mankins, is a respected advocate of independent designers. Her small chain of Brooklyn boutiques, Bird, have stocked Chinti and Parker since autumn 2012 and Anna Singh, Chinti and Parker co-founder, was lucky enough to catch up with her during a recent trip to New York for a tête-à-tête.
How long have you been involved with Bird?
Since 2003. The store had already been open for about 4 years but the owners – two mutual friends of mine – wanted to sell. As a big fan and a loyal customer, I could see the advantage of bringing my buying experience to a promising start up. I began my career as an Assistant Buyer at Barneys New York. I was there for about a year and a half and then moved across to Steven Alan as Head Buyer, so I developed a good understanding of that side of the business.
Why did you choose to open a boutique in Brooklyn?
I knew that I wanted a store; I had been working with friends on a clothing line, Charlotte Corday, for about 3 years but I realised that I preferred the buying and retail side and so wanted to curate brands instead. At the time, there was nothing in Brooklyn that offered what I wanted personally and so when I found out that Bird was for sale it felt like the perfect opportunity.
Who are your favourite brands?
I have a lot of clothes. Zero + Maria Cornejo and Rachel Comey are two favourites. I also like Japanese style, such as that of the designer Tsumori Chisato. I like clothes to be accessible, choosing to wear and stock approachable pieces.
When you are championing new brands, how do you edit them?
The freedom of having your own business means that you can take chances. I am really curious and always on the lookout. For something to catch my eye, it needs to be new, fresh and have energy.
Describe your perfect day in New York.
It would be breakfast at the Wythe Hotel, which is perched right on the Williamsburg waterfront and boasts the most incredible views of the Manhattan skyline. I would follow it with a drive along the river and over Brooklyn Bridge, finishing at the Neue Galerie – a museum devoted to early twentieth century German and Austrian art and design. Its Viennese inspired cafe - Cafe Sabasky - is also fantastic.