LOCAL PROFILES: Eliza Axelson-Chidsey and Kari Sigerson (Alumnae) (10.11.17)
With the amount of walking we do around New York City, shoes are one of our most critical investments. They can’t just be cute - they need to be fashionable as well as functional. That’s why we got so excited when Alumnae opened their first shop in Tribeca at 60 Hudson Street. Founded by Eliza Axelson-Chidsey and Kari Sigerson, who met at their previous job at Sigerson Morrison, Alumnae’s chic, minimalistic shoes feature incredible materials and colors.
We spoke to the founders about their new shop and why they chose to open in Tribeca. Check it out…
What inspired you to open your first Alumnae store in Tribeca?
When we were casting around to find a spot for our first shop, and thinking about the various areas where we might see ourselves, and which areas felt like a good ‘fit’, etc. it was Tribeca which felt the most ‘right’, of all the areas around town. We loved the architectural history of Tribeca, and that it still has a neighborhood vibe. We had our hearts set on opening in an architecturally significant building, and had initially been looking around town, trying to find a former newsstand or shoe shine shop in the lobby of a beautiful landmark, and then we found this location, in this gorgeous gem. The space had been vacant for several years, and the landlord was looking for a small business that would be a good fit for the neighborhood, and I guess that was us!
What is unique about the shop?
It’s slightly off the beaten path, we like that it is a little recherché, and special. And that it’s a very calm oasis, with a slightly domestic feel. For some reason dogs never want to leave when they come in with their owners.
The building is a remarkable landmark, the Art Deco former Western Union Headquarters. Depending on the day you might run into either Eliza or I- the 2 designers, so you can get some special fit details, or material and quality tidbit that you might not get elsewhere. We also have the best selection of our collection and many of the colors and materials are exclusive to our shop.
We are also starting a rotating artists series. Our inaugural artist is a northern California artist Ruth Kneass, who creates the most amazing dynamic mobile sculptures, sort of a cross between Calder, and Noguchi.
How do you see the brand evolving in the coming months?
We are looking forward to being able to engage with more customers and be responsive to what clicks for them. We also look forward to having a chance to host events in the shop, and connect with the neighborhood in ways that are not strictly related to footwear, like hosting coffee and croissants for the early morning Mothers (and Fathers) doing drop off across the street at the Washington Market School, or having a little evening fashion film series, or maybe some readings, just as many fun things to connect with the neighborhood as we can. Tribeca is such an amazing area, with a very switched-on creative community that we look forward to being a part of.
What is your favorite aspect of owning a business below Canal Street?
We like that the citizens of the area are very connected to the local businesses, and are supportive of new ventures, and very welcoming.
So far, it has been a nice friendly mellow opening, with lovely charming locals popping by to check us out and introduce themselves. It’s been absolutely perfect!
What are you favorite spots in the neighborhood?
Grandaisy, Odeon, Tiny's, Laughing Man, Nili Lotan, Terroir, La Garconne, Duane Park Patisserie, Gotan, Issey Miyaki, Square Diner, Clementine, King’s Pharmacy, Weather Up, Zutto, Puffy’s.