Kirna Zabete has been a mecca for stylish shoppers since it first launched in Soho in 1999. Founded by college (UVA) besties Sarah Easley and Beth Buccini (a former luxury wholesaler and fashion editor, respectively), the store takes its name from the duo's "silly college nicknames," and quickly became a fave among fashion lovers for its artfully edited mix of emerging designers from all over the world, many of whom—Alexander Wang, Thakoon, Rick Owens, Balenciaga by Nicolas Ghesquiere—have gone on to major success of their own.
"A million years ago I was the fashion editor at New York magazine, so I really saw how stores bought in NYC as everything we shot or wrote about had to be credited to an NYC store," says Buccini. "It was an excellent lesson in who bought what where, and how they bought it. I started obsessing about opening a store and talked Sarah into doing it with me. There was no way I was going to do it without her." "She was really into it because she was the one with no retail experience!" adds Easley with a laugh.
Twelve years later, Kirna Zabete—which T magazine dubbed "the high-fashion equivalent of a candy store: colorful, tempting and addictive"—is still devoted to discovering new talent and has grown to to include a biannual magazine and a major online e-tail component. Its founders are "still having fun" though they're now married with six kids between them. No wonder they consider Paris Fashion Week a vacation.
The Fashion Informer's Lauren David Peden had a tête-à-tête with the dynamic style duo a few weeks before New York Fashion Week to dish about motherhood, their hidden talents and mani/pedi must-haves.
So, Beth and Sarah...
What's your favorite time of day?
Beth Buccini: It used to be in the evening after a satisfying hard day of work. But four children have forced me to be a morning person. I do like to wake up early while the house is quiet and have some coffee alone so I can have a personality for the kids!
Sarah Easley: Morning! The light, the quiet and the great potential of a new day. Namaste. Just kidding!
What was more memorable: your first car or your first kiss?
BB: Definitely not discussing the first kiss. So car! There was a brief period in college when I drove a red Alfa Romeo Spider. Now that was fun.
SE: First car. Honda Civic with one broken headlight.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
BB: Michelle Williams. She already has the short hair; I guess she would just have to dye it.
SE: Can I have Penelope Cruz?
What's the best and most challenging thing about motherhood? Marriage?
BB: When I was pregnant with my first child, a dear friend who already had two kids said to me, it will be the hardest thing you ever do, but it will be the best. No truer words were ever spoken. I struggle with giving each one enough individual attention—they are never satisfied—and that includes the husband!
SE: Motherhood: Being patient. Marriage: Same!
Tell me one thing people don't know about your business partner.
BB: She’s a phenomenal tennis player. It was her trick with the boys in college. She’d act like she was just decent than she’d cream them on the court!
SE: Today Beth brought scissors to work because I have been whining that I cannot get an appointment for a haircut with my beloved Louis Angelo so Beth is giving me an emergency trim today at Kirna Zabete. She is amazing in every category and I am unworthy but grateful.
What's usually on your nightstand?
BB: Pictures of the family, iPad and laptop, ice water.
SE: Lamp. Well, obviously. Books I intend to read.
Beverage of choice?
BB: Right now, Kir Royale.
SE: Kir Royale.
How has the retail scene changed since you first opened Kirna Zabete (recession aside)?
BB: When we first opened we said we weren’t going to have designers that advertised on the side of a bus. Well 12 years later, some of the new talent we started with have grown big enough to advertise on the side of the bus! So many of our indie designers have grown up with us. But there is always great new talent out there to nurture. Also, fashion is so much more accessible to the world now thanks to the Internet. Style.com really changed shopping for our customers. They started calling right after the shows. Thanks to the internet and reality tv, the general public seems to understand fashion much better now.
SE: It has really only gotten better each season, each year. Our ladies are fashion obsessed. We respect the passion. What has changed most since we opened in 1999 is high fashion retail on the Internet. Information and shopping at the speed of light.
What's the last item you traded during New York Fashion Week (and do you trade back at the end of the week)?
BB: We do trade back. Next season I want Sarah’s white Lanvin sequined jacket. Or maybe her ivory Stella tux jacket.
SE: Beth and I love to trade! She nearly bought the whole 2002 Chloé (Phoebe Philo) spring collection and I have coveted those items ever since. Going to poach the green leather jacket for fall. Yes, we trade back.
What's the one beauty/grooming item you cannot live without?
BB: Clé de Peau concealer.
SE: Chantecaille lip gloss and Just Skin in Glow.
If given the chance, what's the one question would you ask God (assuming s/he exists)?
BB: Did I have past lives and can I see deceased people that I love in heaven?
SE: Too abstract for me.
What's your current go-to mani/pedi color—and do you prefer gel or old-school polish?
BB: I love Essie Geranium right now. One of our KZ stylists just got a color I've been laughing about for days—Vermillionaire. I think that’s next on my list just so I can say Vermillionaire as often as possible.
SE: Is regular nail polish already old school??
Do you cook and, if so, what's your signature dish?
BB: I love to cook and wish I did more often. My children love this lemon chicken dish I make from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer cookbook. It is incredible and we eat it every Monday night. In the summer I always make a peach tart with fresh whipped cream that they love, too. It is from Amanda Hesser’s hilarious book Cooking for Mr. Latte. And I've pretty much cooked every Barefoot Contessa recipe.
SE: I excel at baking, really. Coconut chocolate chip banana bread is my masterpiece—and all pies.
What never fails to make you cry?
BB: My children, particularly during some sort of performance. But Sarah can often make me cry from laughing so hard.
When are you happiest?
BB: I really love my job. It is a joy to come to work. And I particularly love being in Paris for the shows. Sarah and I have taken to referring to that trip as vacation. But mostly I love being home with my family.
SE: In my hammock in Montauk. In Paris with Beth.