Name: Andrea Miller
Occupation: Owner of Eponymy
Borough/Neighborhood: Park Slope, Brooklyn
Tell us a little about Eponymy and how it got started: My grandparents had an antique shop that they ran for about 20 years in Cape May, NJ — the oldest resort and Victorian settlement in the country. Their shop, which closed in the mid 1990’s, was located on the bottom floor of a residential house called The Pink House, a wonderful Victorian Gingerbread House that graced the cover of the New Yorker in March 1974. So I guess I inherited/ developed an eye from watching them in their shop and trying to “help.”
I wrote a lot of plays and short fiction in college and thought I might want to return to that at some point but wasn’t quite inspired by the starving artist lifestyle or the idea of going right back to school. So I guess opening a shop was a sort of a form of escape and crapshoot. But it was a risk I was willing to take – something that I could invent but could potentially turn into a way to make a living. I got creative about budget and hauled a bunch of antique fixtures up from storage in The Pink House, fixed them up – repainted or refurbished them, curated a base of art work by mostly local emerging artists (with assistance from Humble Arts Foundation) and winged it from there. Regardless of the outcome, it has been quite an education. And lord knows, there are so many ways to get an education — school is just one of them.
What was the original idea behind the store (and the name)? The original idea behind the store was to reinvent and reuse the old and bring in the new. The name – Eponymy – is basically just a fancy way to say that a place, a discovery, an era – anything really — takes its name from the name of a person – either fictitious or real. “The Victorian Era” for example –that’s eponymous. So I guess the idea is that the Eponymy customer could create his or her own discovery. That the shop could take its name from the customer, not the other way around. Who knows if that’s realistic (or even comprehensible), but it was the original idea.
How did you decide to design the shop? I knew what fixtures and what art was going to be in the store but the actual placement of everything was totally winged during a week long binge of coffee, Thai take out, insomnia and huffing furniture refinisher (that was a joke mom and dad).
Favourite new item(s)/piece(s) at Eponymy: I just went on a vintage run. I love my vintage ladies – the ladies I source from – they are totally eccentric and amazing and I find the most fantastic stuff. Then I spend the next week restoring, mending, cleaning, and altering the stuff so they are in top shape for their new owner. The best thing about vintage is finding the piece, your soul piece – the one that is meant for you. Another favorite — these Hot Pink Vivienne Westwood Anglomania shoes –they are made out of recycled plastic and are just sort of out of this world.
Who are your design/designer inspirations? Arati Rao, a local designer who has a new line called “A Line”
that will be in my store in fall makes really interesting, elegant stuff. Forward Fashion in Asia and Asia in general, Art Deco, old drawings of mollusks, insects and water beetles, old world glam, Florence, my step-mother and paternal grandmother for their style and aesthetic talent respectively, and my mother and maternal grandmother for their creative and eccentric minds respectively.
What are you currently wearing? Currently? As in this season? Or at this moment? At this very moment I am at home at my desk with Seinfeld re-runs going in the background so I am wearing sweatpants with paint on them and a men’s cashmere sweater from Uniqlo I bought probably 5 years ago.
Favorite shop(s) in the neighborhood? (Or Queens, NYC/NY, etc.): God, I’ve been so hermetic lately — working almost all of the time — so I haven’t been able to get out and explore recently, but I’ll give you some of my old favorites. I love Petite Fleur in Park Slope. It’s right near my store on 6th ave — they have great gifts and flowers and the store is decorated beautifully. The owners are adorable and they have a little old dachshund named “Le Chien” who is sweet and a little bit cantankerous at the same time. Also, there is a store in Manhattan called De Vera. This is a store with museum quality stuff that is absolutely stunning – it’s located perpendicularly from Opening Ceremony, which –most know — is a great store too. I’m also a fan of Obscura curiosity shop (if it is still there) in the East Village. Last time I went they had opium pipes, various skulls and porn from the turn of the century — among other splendid things. There is also a nice little print shop down around Bowery and 4th…I can’t remember what it is called. And of course if you go down to Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn there are a lot of great shops as well.
Favorite place to eat in the neighborhood: The Flatbush Farm/Barn is always a great option, Geido for Sushi, Convivium Oseteria if you want to throw down on a special occasion, and Melt and Beast are great for brunch. James is consistently good and has an amazing chandelier. I’ve heard No. 7 in Fort Greene is great but I haven’t had a chance to go yet. If I get hungry during the day I’ll holler over to Organic Heights, which is a few doors down. I’m gonna try to convince them to get walkie-talkies so they can constantly be at my beck and call. They’ll love it. I like to support local business but I also cook a lot and my neighbor upstairs cooks me amazing Puerto Rican food! She is a doll.
Little known fact about your neighborhood: Ahhh…there is a great little shop on Bergen Street between Flatbush and 5th Aves called Eponymy. Also, this is totally not a secret but there is this awesome dude who rides a unicycle around the neighborhood with his dog on a leash in tow.
Favorite watering hole: Weather Up if you’re feeling snazzy/sharp. If you are looking for a dive — The Black Sheep, O’Connor’s or Freddie’s. Total Wine Bar for um, wine. Bogota for seemingly perpetual tropical happy hour.
Best pizza in your hood: Pizzatown on 5th ave extra hot slice so the crust is crisp with lots of hot pepper.
If there was a movie of your life, what neighborhood would grace the opening scene: Well I was born in New York Presbyterian Hospital, then Cornell Hospital, on the UES so I guess if it were an extremely literal, chronological, boring documentary of my life it would begin there. If we were going for a Sci-Fi/ Fellini-esque on Peyote/ Blockbuster or something, the movie would start with my scattered ashes hitting a phosphorescent bay/ floor of a rent-controlled apartment in New York City and becoming a million little Andrea Millers whose heads open up and catapult — each in a miniature rocking chair — into the atmosphere and back into her waking life body, telling her some hair-brained idea that opening a shop would be a good move.
Any advice for the kids out there interested in starting their own shop? Don’t underestimate the power of naiveté. If I had known all of what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have taken the plunge. The licensing, certificates, permits, bureaus, state, federal, tax, filing, insurance, finger printing etc. is enough to drive a crazy person sane. Wait, did I just ruin it for the kids?
What is your all time favorite fashion movie? I have a really difficult time with “favorite” questions because I have such a broad realm of favorites. But let’s just call it a night and go with Blow Up.