Hannah Dilworth may own Williamsburg shop Concrete + Water, but her heart belongs to Greenpoint, where she lives with her fiancé and their dog Henry.
Hannah’s shop is a beautiful, stylish sight to behold, with gorgeous, well-curated items, from the perfect summer bikini to the most current pair of sunnies.
A recent panel at the shop, sponsored by Made Real Vodka and moderated by its founder Nicole Williams, featured a fun and lively group of female North Brooklyn entrepreneurs. As would-be entrepreneurs sipped a spicy honey-vodka cocktail, they listened to Hannah, Victorian Deych, Kilee Hughes and Lenore Champagne Beirne discussing the confidence required to be your own boss in a hostile economic climate. Afterwards, we chatted with Hannah about the event, her shop, collaborating with her partner, and how she turned her passion into a lifestyle.
GP: How long have you been living in Greenpoint, and what’s your everyday Greenpoint life like?
Hannah: We have lived in northern Brooklyn for seven years, and Greenpoint specifically for three years. We live right at the top of Franklin street in northern Greenpoint. I love the community we have here and the quiet neighborhood feel. We live on a ground level apartment and often sit out on our stoop with our dog Henry, and go and grab coffee and sandwiches at Eagle Trading Co which is right end of our block.
GP: How are street style and lifestyle different in Greenpoint and Williamsburg?
Hannah: To be honest, Greenpoint feels like the Williamsburg I originally fell in love with. Greenpoint has more of the relaxed neighborhood feel that I fell in love with when I first moved to Brooklyn. I absolutely love owning a business and working in Williamsburg, but Greenpoint has my heart.
GP: What spots would you recommend unconditionally to a person visiting Greenpoint for only one day and one night?
Hannah: My recommendations for a perfect Greenpoint day would be Le Gamin for brunch, Transmitter Park for a hangout and city views, coffee and flowers at Homecoming, shopping at Adaptations and Porter James, sunset drinks on the roof at Northern Territory, lobster rolls in the backyard of Lobster Joint, post-dinner cocktails at Ramona, and dancing ’til the wee hours at Good Room.
GP: Your most recent event was a collaborative panel with Made Real Vodka called “Turning Passion into Profit.” What did you most enjoy about collaborating with them?
Hannah: That it was all about the ladies! I loved being involved in an event that had such strong and talented women behind it.
GP: What did you learn from the panel and the other speakers that you didn’t expect to?
Hannah: It’s nice to hear that you’re not alone in the struggles and insecurities you have as a small business owner. I learned a lot from hearing how each person dealt with those struggles and continued to grow and become stronger.
GP: The speakers all arrived at their current positions of success in very different ways. Is there no wrong way, in your eyes, to arrive at success, or do you counsel that young women work very hard from a young age?
Hannah: I truly think there is no wrong or right way to arrive at success. I’m a big believer in trying out anything and everything along the way. All those experiences will teach you something and will help you realize what you are best at and what you truly love and want to do.
GP: What do you still find the most challenging about owning your own business?
Hannah: I can often feel overwhelmed by my endless to-do lists, so for me the biggest challenge in owning my own business it to not get to bogged down by it all and to focus on what is most important in that moment. Gotta just take it all step by step.
GP: Concrete + Water is such a beautifully-curated shop, with a clean yet warm aesthetic. What were you going for when you designed it, and who worked with you on interior design?
Hannah: When we designed the space we wanted to make sure it had a warm, bright and welcoming feel to it. We were tired of the dark wood and old timey look that been going on in Williamsburg and wanted to do something different. We love Scandinavian design and were interested in bringing a bit of a west coast feel to the store as well. Especially since we have our amazing backyard we wanted to be able to open up all the doors and have the space feel very indoor/outdoor.
My cousin who is an architect for Thread Collective helped us design the space, and then JD and I did all the interior fixtures. I loved sourcing all the fixtures. Finding lighting off Etsy, and getting a local artist, Caleb Engstrom, to design tables and shelving, was a really fun process.
GP: Were you thinking of it as an event space when you opened it?
We knew that we had something really special with the backyard and the possibility of it being an event space. We think of ourselves as a lifestyle store and wanted the backyard and our events to be an extension of that. We had a lot of amazing events last summer, and are constantly trying to find new and exciting events to have in our space. It was a surprise to us how much we have used the inside of our space for events as well. It’s great to see how flexible the space can be.
GP: Where does the name come from?
Hannah: The name actually came from the title of a college essay I had to write for a styling course about my personal style. JD came up with the name Concrete + Water because I live in the city and love the urban environment, but I also grew up on a farm and love to surf and hike. So it’s the balance of those two, and how essential both are to me as a person. People also laugh that JD is the concrete in the relationship since he is very level headed, and I am the water because I can be more all over the place emotionally!
GP: You run your business with JD, your fiancé. What is your working relationship like?
Hannah: JD and I just celebrated our 10 year anniversary and are getting married in June, so needless to say we have been together for a long time! We always knew that we eventually wanted to work together and own our own business. We had talked about many ideas for years, and a retail store was always a dream of mine.
I think we’re really a great pair in terms of handling our own sides of the business. I’m very detail-oriented, and can be a bit of a perfectionist in terms of merchandising and choosing individuals items and labels. JD on the other hand is amazing with numbers, and has always had a good business and marketing mind. He’s really good at seeing the big picture, when I might focus on the little picture too heavily. That makes us perfect partners. When one of us is stressing out, it seems like the other is always able to talk us down. We also really respect and value each other’s opinion and luckily we like each other enough to want to spend most of our time together.
GP: What are the top five desert island items from your shop that you’d take with you if you were stranded?
Hannah: The Geijo bikini, Beach People round beach blanket, Krewe du optic sunglasses, Grown Alchemist amenity kit, and Worthwhile Paper notebook so I can send messages in a bottle to JD.
GP: What are some upcoming debut collections or events at C + W?
Hannah: Spring is an exciting time at the store! Every day we’re getting new deliveries of spring and summer clothing and accessories. After winter I feel like I want a whole new wardrobe and right now I want everything in the store.
As for events, we are filling up our calendar as we speak. One of our first events will be a dyeing workshop and trunk show with one of our amazing local designers Upstate. Also we are hoping to do another event with Radiant Human in the backyard.