I chatted with Maryann on her mission behind the fledgling store, in addition to socially conscious fashion that makes a difference in the local community and our society at large.
Maryann: I’ves always been interested in fashion, and for most of my life I considered myself to be a socially conscious consumer. I never believed in stockpiling things or mindless consumerism. Over the past few years I thought about a career change and I began to think more and more about owning a clothing shop with merchandise made from recycled materials, and when I began doing research I discovered that there are many small companies that manufacture goods with reference to sustainability. I also found out that many manufacturers use organic materials to create fashionable clothes and accessories.
Maryann: I’ve spent the past 34 years of my life in academia, teaching Sociology and Anthropology classes in colleges on Long Island. I’ve always loved connecting with people in heady and intimate ways. I’m grateful to have spent so many years in the academy as I have met so many interesting people who have taught me so much about life. I began traveling to India in the late 1970’s and then later as a doctoral student I conducted research on the changing roles of Indian women in the context of growing urbanization and modernization. I observed first hand the inhuman face of poverty, and so today I am thrilled that the woman of India are making use of the talents and skills in the global economy. Hook and Eye sells many hand crafted products made by Indian women, and goods made by other people from around the world.
I decided to open Hook and Eye in Greenpoint for a few reasons: I wanted a small business so why not return to my native Brooklyn. My daughter Sonia lives here and she encouraged me to return to my birthplace and to a neighborhood not far from where I grew up. I see Greenpoint as a neighborhood that combines the best of worlds in an urban setting: it’s old world charm and strong ethnic affiliation seems to be packaged nicely with a growing population of recently transported hipsters, and urban professionals. The demographic is changing in a favorable way. I also like being around smart and creative people.
Maryann: My favorite pieces are those made from recycled materials, as well as tops and tunics that are 100% organic cotton. I Like the use of low impact dyes to create stylish pieces. I love the pocketbooks made from old tires, plastic bags and newspapers. I’m inspired by creative use of these materials.
Maryann: I would like the Hook and Eye customer to appreciate variety in style and material. My shop is organic, recycled, vintage inspired and vintage, so the merchandise reflects the creative use of many materials. A clay dyed tunic can pair nicely with a vintage ring, and a hand made beaded belt. I don’t want the Hook and Eye customers to be fashion snobs….If I could find recycled couture, I’d gladly purchase it, but in the meantime my eco-friendly boutique is quite affordable and a fun place to shop.
GP: What are your guidelines for finding products?
Maryann: Always natural materials, or stuff that people recycle to make interesting clothes and accessories. Hook and Eye merchandise (other than vintage pieces) is sweat shop free, made in the U.S.A., and or fair trade.
GP: What are your future plans for the store?
Maryann: I will certainly learn as I go along. I would love to eventually add more merchandise that is stylistically high end, but affordable in price, and of course produced by people whose talents are seen in the products they create. I would love to grow as a green boutique.