This week we’re shining the spotlight on Azaleas in NYC, a flirty East Village staple since 2002! Owner Cindy Kahng handpicks under-pinnings herself and strings them all around her light, bright boutique for regulars & newcomers alike to ogle and covet!
Honeydew: Cindy, you opened Azaleas in 2002 (the same year Honeydew Intimates launched into the intimates bra-tosphere!). It can be so hard to open a small business, but you did it in a big city full of competition! Not only did you ‘make it’, but you’ve secured your spot as a staple in the neighborhood, a go-to for fun, flirty lingerie for trendy New Yorkers! What would you say was your biggest key to success?
Cindy: Our customers are the reason for our success. We really pride ourselves on customer service and listening to the customers’ wants and needs. The East Village gals are young, stylish and laid back and so are our shop gals so it’s no wonder we have established a great relationship with our customers. Everyone has their ups and downs and we’ve been there for their latest summer fling, engagements, divorces and even children: all reasons to celebrate with new underwear!
Honeydew: When did you know that owning your own intimates & swim boutique was your calling?
Cindy: I always had a personal love for lingerie and love gifting it to my girlfriends. The oohs and ahhs over delicate details in the pretty underthings or surprise or shock value in the naughty items are always fun reactions to see when your friend unwraps a present. After working in the fashion industry for 5 years prior, I knew it was the only logical step for me.
Honeydew: What was the first moment you realized “Hey, I’m actually making this work!”?
Cindy: Well, it’s always great to hear good feedback from customers. But we are coming upon our tenth year anniversary, and it’s been most redeeming to see our loyal customers through their important life-changing events. For example, we have a male customer who used to live on this block and who’d come here for every occasion for his girlfriend from birthday presents to holiday gifts. He just came in the other day with his newborn baby to buy a Mother’s Day gift. That was really sweet that he’d take his kid on the subway (they’d since moved to Brooklyn) all the way here to buy her a gift. I really adore and appreciate that.
Honeydew: If there’s anything people know about New Yorkers, It’s their fierce love of their city and their passion and gratitude for everything their beloved city has to offer! What is your favorite thing about Azaleas’ neighborhood, East Village?
Cindy: Over the years, the East Village has still kept its charm and character. There are still lots of creative types, the crazies in the summer time, and punks doing their pilgrimage to St. Mark’s place. There really is no other neighborhood I’d rather work, play and eat in. The food culture is always changing in New York, and this neighborhood is the testing grounds for it so I couldn’t complain.
Honeydew: Small business owners often get a lot of feedback from their regular customers. What do your customers love about Honeydew Intimates?
Cindy: There are a lot of young, stylish and creative types in the East Village. The creative types, however, aren’t necessarily the ones with a lot of disposable income. It’s always a challenge to find that one item they would covet but offer it at a reasonable price point. We’ve carried Honeydew pretty much since the beginning and the look and quality for their price just couldn’t be more in tune with our customers.
Honeydew: What is your personal favorite Honeydew Intimates item & why?
Cindy: The basic mesh boyshorts with lace trim have been a staple here since we brought it in but one of our other favorites would be the lace bralettes. They are easy, comfy and cute and the spaghetti straps are great to wear and show off in the summer time. And we always adore the color palettes chosen each season.
Honeydew: Anything you’d like to tell Honeydew fans out there about yourself, Azaleas, or just life itself?
Cindy: After ten years, we will be moving our shop to a more visible and spacious space at 140 Second Avenue (between St. Mark’s Place and 9th Street) in October so please come visit us and gossip with the girls any time!
Peep some of Cindy’s wares at http://shop.azaleasnyc.com/