There are so many options for shopping in downtown New York so a refreshing, new pop-up shop is exactly what we’ve been looking for. AdmittoBitter, located next to the Seaport, is exactly this. With various items from vintage clothing to “White Trash” trash bins with George W. Bush’s face on them, AdmittoBitter is a one of a kind treasure haven.
The shop owner, Jacquie Joseph, loves to promote real, New York City women and the shop’s motto “Live, Dream, Create, NYC.” She meets and accepts the work of talented artists who stop by the shop. DOWNTOWN talked with Joseph and learned more about how she started designing and what the AdmittoBitter culture entails.
DOWNTOWN: Tell me about yourself. Where you are from? When and how did you develop an interest in the fashion industry?
Jacquie Joseph: I am from Colorado but I was born in France. I was never really interested in the fashion industry, but I loved art and clothing and for as long as I can remember, those passions were as strong as my desire to be in New York City. I would come here as a child on summer holidays and just knew this is where I had to be. My love for design traces back to my first Barbie. I would sketch new looks for her. I remember getting in a bit of trouble for taking apart a newly purchased Barbie’s clothes and drawing on them, recreating new looks. I would have to say the fashion industry found me.
DOWNTOWN: Tell me about Admit to Bitter and how the idea came about. What is the reasoning behind the name?
JJ: Admittobitter: meaning if we admit to being bitter it frees up our mind for creative thought, and therefore we are not stagnant. There is a lot going on in the world at that the moment and it is hard to ignore. Sometimes it is so overwhelming trying to think of how you can make a difference as just one small person in a world that becomes less simple daily. For some time I have noticed how New York City is changing. As time goes by, I continue to see how the heart of Manhattan, to me, is being removed. I listened to my musician and artist friends struggle to have places to show their work, to play their music, to create as more and more venues closed and opportunities shifted or dissipated completely. At the same time the fashion industry in NYC was taking on its own battle. My love for this city began because I saw it as a place for artists. I began to ask myself, does this city still facilitate the arts/artists? I felt it was time again to create our own way as creators of NYC. Very early on, the AdmittoBitter website was found and invited to the gifting suite at the MTV movie awards. At the event, one of the celebrities said to me: “This is not a brand, this is a culture, a way of life, a way of being.” Humbled, I thought “She gets it, but will others?”
DOWNTOWN: How did you land a pop-up shop next to the Seaport? What has it been like to be in the downtown area?
JJ: I live a few blocks from the pop-up shop and have lived in the Financial District for the past 10 years. Five months before Super Storm Sandy, we moved into our dream apartment at the Seaport. Shortly after, we were homeless for eight months a week after Sandy hit, while our place was being restored. The city came and padlocked our doors and placed a restriction sign on our front door. We had not evacuated and our dog was still in the apartment. To this day, the effect on the downtown area and how unknown it is to most shocks me. I watched my neighbors and friends lose their businesses. It broke my heart. We were so excited to finally be a part of Manhattan and we watched it wash away all in one evening. I watched my friend Amanda Bryon Zinc start her business and lose it in a day. She works effortlessly and tirelessly to keep her doggie boutique thriving. Amanda was the catalyst that encouraged me to reach out to the Howard Hughes Organization to see if there might be a space available. So I did and they have given me what I think is the opportunity of a lifetime. They have such a big job ahead of them. For being such a large corporation they are doing their best to listen to the people of the community and help however they can, while trying to redevelop an area that was completely destroyed.
DOWNTOWN: When did the pop-up shop open? When does it close?
JJ: We opened Admittobitter at the end of August, one week before Labor Day. We are hoping to stay open through the first few weeks of December.
DOWNTOWN: What type of items do you sell? Are they all your creations or done by varying artists?
JJ: We sell art, Bespoke Fashion for women, accessories, candles, vintage and more. Everything is made by New York City creators or comes from their closet.
DOWNTOWN: What is the price range of the items in the shop?
JJ: $15- $5,000
DOWNTOWN: What’s your favorite piece that you sell?
JJ: I do not have a favorite piece, but I do have a few favorite experiences. One feeling I love is when a customer is so happy with their purchase that they come back to share that with me. Another experience I have loved was when a young girl came in during fashion week. We were talking and I discovered she was a street artist from Paris and I was able to give her a wall to do her thing. Every day someone comes in and tells me their story. The shop has a really nice vibe and people feel comfortable to share what is happening in their life with me. It is amazing. It has also been a wonderful experience to help Art Start, a mentoring organization.
DOWNTOWN: Any inspiration behind your designs?
JJ: I find inspiration in daily life. I am all about texture and color and just keeping my eyes peeled. I have had several designers that have inspired me through the years, I’ve been inspired as a student of Kenzo and also by the Japanese designers of the 70’s and 80’s that never drew a line between art and fashion. I would like to think I have taken that inspiration with me in my designs.
DOWNTOWN: What are your future plans for the brand and the store?
JJ: To grow the Admittobitter culture and to have a permanent shop at the South Street Seaport. To continue to give back by working with organizations such as Art Start which uses creative arts to transform young, at-risk lives. We love being a part of our community in this way. Opening our doors to visit with our neighbors is truly an amazing feeling.
Head out to the pop-up shop located at 117 Beekman St. New York at Titantic Park at South Street Seaport and check out some of DOWNTOWN’s favorites from the shop below.
-Photography courtesy of Jacquie Joseph
“Empire State” by Jonnie Miles, $300
“Golden” worn by Nitya Vidyasagar, $375
Brooklyn Candle Company, $20
Daniel A Bruce: Shovel, $1800
“Paris” worn by Anisa Ferhati, $525.00