To (mis)quote some famous old Brits, Laura Freedman gets by with a little help from her friends.
When scouting locations for a New York outpost of her Los Angeles jewelry mecca Broken English, Freedman stumbled upon an ideal spot in the heart of SoHo. The only problem? It was already occupied. “I fell in love with Crosby Street,” Freedman said. “I was looking with a realtor and as we walked down the street, he explained why Crosby was so special. We passed a big space that was great, because it goes through Crosby and Broadway. He said, ‘That’s AllSaints.’”
Fortuitously, Freedman counts Lyndon Lea, cofounder of Lion Capital, which acquired 76 percent of AllSaints in 2011, among her close friends. “The following week, I had lunch with Lyndon, and I was telling him how he had an amazing location,” she said. “He said, ‘Well, why don’t you just take the Crosby side of AllSaints. If we divided it and you took over 500 square feet, it would be used per square foot more efficiently.’ And, really, the synergy between the two brands made sense.”
According to Freedman, the decision to expand out East was a long time coming. A Los Angeles native, Freedman opened her fine-jewelry store in 2006 after spending several years working at West Hollywood boutique Kaviar and Kind. Located in the Brentwood County Mart — also home to the likes of Intermix, James Perse and Jenni Kayne — Broken English opened as a 400-square-foot jewel box of a store. Today, still in the same location, Broken English boasts a designer roster that includes Anita Ko, Deborah Pagani, Jacquie Aiche, Colette and Pamela Love. She declined to provide specific sales figures.
Freedman views the SoHo flagship as a chance to take on much larger retailers like Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman.
“There is a real lack in the market, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to come to New York,” she said. “[Broken English] is really a fresh approach to a jewelry store. There’s a lot of flagship stores for jewelers separately, but there isn’t really a jewelry store.”
In addition to its existing designers, Broken English will introduce a handful of new ones, exclusive to the New York location, such as Inez & Vinoodh, as well as new vintage offerings. Freedman also hinted at future exclusive collaborations.
She describes the interior of the 518-square-foot space as “luxurious, but still homey and quaint.” The store features a mix of custom Carrera marble-and-brass and vintage French jewelry cases, with concrete floors and an inlaid brass logo. Freedman expects the store to hit $2 million in sales in year one. “I was very young when I first opened the store,” she said. “I was the new kid on the block. Now, the store has brand recognition.”